GOLDEN Easter Egg favourite Up Hill Jill is firing on all cylinders ahead of her biggest test to date this Saturday night at Wentworth Park.
Trained in Victoria by David Geall, the black bitch has pulled up well following her sensational semi-final victory last weekend where she clocked a flying 29.63 over the 520m trip.
On that occasion, Up Hill Jill showed tremendous pace out of box five, finding the lead early and kicking on strongly to hold out the fast-finishing Slamming Thunder.
Geall said he is happy with the daughter of Premier Fantasy and Where’s Demonica heading into the decider, feeling that she has reached her best just in time.
“She is at her peak now – we always thought she could run about 29.65 and I think that’s her bottom line,” Geall told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I was a bit worried about box five in the semi-final – it is always a concern when you draw the middle because you can’t make any mistakes.
“Thankfully she did everything right – she jumped pretty well and she showed great acceleration.
“Slamming Thunder stuck with her throughout the run and really started to wind up late – I got a bit worried at about the 50m mark but luckily she was able to hold it out until the line.
“We were rapt that she was able to qualify.”
A winner of the Group 2 Laurels and runner up in both the Group 1 National Futurity and the Group 2 Richmond Oaks, Up Hill Jill has drawn box two in the decider this week – an alley from which she has won or placed in all three appearances.
However, Geall admits it will be a tough assignment this week against a terrific field including Mack Tux (box one), Lucky Chap (box three), Big Flood (box four), Slamming Thunder (box five), Aqua Cheetah (box six), Striker Light (box seven) and Lagoon Jazzy (box eight).
“[Mack Tux] missed it last week, but he normally has a lot of pace so she has to do everything right,” Geall said.
“She can miss the start from the inside, but even if she does she lets go with an enormous rush when she hits the ground so we have just got to hope for a bit of luck early.
“She is very competitive and she seems to want to head them off – when she won her heat she got a knock after the start and she landed awkwardly but she was able to shoot through along the fence.
“Hopefully she can maintain what she has been doing heading into Saturday – if she runs up to her 29.63 win again we might be able to pinch the race.
“She loves Wentworth Park – she is more switched on there than at any other track which I didn’t think would be possible because she is a very keen and competitive dog.”
Geall, who bred the 14-time winner with his wife Rose, says it would be monumental to win the final which is worth a quarter of a million dollars.
“It would be massive to win – as a trainer you look at races like the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Cup and the Golden Easter Egg – they are the big three – and you hope that one day you have a dog good enough to get in the final.
“We have got the chance to win one this week – to win this race would be life changing – it would set us up forever and ever.
“It would put you that far ahead and there would be no looking back.”