Thirlmere trainer Mark Gatt went into tonight’s Group Two Richmond Derby heats with five runners and wasn’t disappointed, securing three winners and a second placing to qualify four greyhounds for next Saturday’s $40,000 final.
Ritza Raider kicked off proceedings with an impressive display in heat one, clocking a fast 30.51 from box eight. The son of Bombastic Shiraz and Midnight Flare began brilliantly from outside and quickly crossed the field to sit second at the first turn. After a fierce battle with Belfast Kaiser, Ritza Raider streaked away on the home turn to score by one and three quarter lengths. Romantic Affair made up a stack of ground to finish second, securing a place in next weeks final.
One of the states most in-form greyhounds at present, Evil Punk, was well supported by punters in heat two and blew his rivals away from box five in a best of the night time of 30.29. Exploding away from the middle box, the James Coyle trained star gapped the field at the first turn to salute by three lengths and cement his spot as a genuine contender in the final. Gatt qualified his second runner with Ritza Ryder, who managed to reduce the margin at the finish, clocking a time of 30.47.
After a disappointing few starts, Boyce Road returned to the winners circle in grand style with a dazzling performance from box seven in a smart time of 30.38. Jumping brilliantly from out wide, he squeezed his way through a line of three at the first turn to skip away by three and a half lengths. He is a member of the talented Collision x Mystic Pace litter and was back to his best tonight and looms as a huge threat next week. Outsider Calamity Trigger ran a very gallant second, sticking with the winner the entire way, clocking 30.59 for trainer Michael Eberand.
Gatt’s final qualifier was the freakish Red Road, who exited from box six and clocked the second fastest time of the night, a flying 30.33. Overcoming a difficult start, the son of Collision and Mystic Pace got the fly at the first turn and shot away winning comfortably by five and a quarter lengths over second placegetter Manyana Groper for Syd Swain.
The box draw for the $40,000 final next Saturday night is:
1. Red Road Mark Gatt
2. Ritza Ryder Mark Gatt
3. Evil Punk James Coyle
4. Manyana Groper Syd Swain
5. Boyce Road Mark Gatt
6. Romantic Affair Mario Abela
7. Calamity Trigger Michael Eberand
8. Ritza Raider Mark Gatt