It was a chaser of three and a half years from the North Coast that won in 2007 and in 2008, a veteran of five and a half years traversed the state, visiting 16 tracks and clocking up over 15,000 kilometres, to win the title.
This year the stage is set for an exciting conclusion to the Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) Country Challenge series with just eight legs to go to produce a winner and establish the field of the top eight greyhounds to take part in the GRNSW Country Challenge Showdown.
The GRNSW Country Challenge is conducted across 28 tracks statewide with each hosting a leg of the series. Greyhounds accumulate points based on their finishing position in the local finals. The highest point scoring greyhound at the end of the 28 track series is crowned GRNSW Country Challenge Champion and the connections take home a $10,000 bonus.
But the winning doesn’t stop there as the highly successful Country Challenge Showdown event will be conducted again this year at Wentworth Park in Sydney. The top eight point scorers in the Country Challenge series will be invited to compete in the Showdown and race for prizemoney totaling $20,000.
More than 120 greyhounds from across NSW have already competed in local finals of the 2008/09 series and the field is still well and truly open for any greyhound to win this year’s series or at least make it through to the final showdown event at Wentworth Park on Saturday 11 July.
In the first two years of the series the winners have each finished with a total of 47 points. In 2007 Kingsbrae Di started the year slowly and at the same point in the series was sitting on 27 points. In 2008 at this point, winner Token Mulwee was already sitting on 41 points and only managed one placing in the last eight races to fall across the line by just five points.
This year’s current leader Elite Flash has already amassed 30 points from five finals appearances, even though he has only recorded one victory. Second placed Cashmere Queen has won twice so far from four finals appearances and sits just three points back, while third placed Future Fund has one win from five attempts. In previous years the leader at the end of April has gone on to win the series, so this puts Elite Flash in the box seat.
Dianne Craig the owner/trainer of the current second placeholder on the leaderboard, Cashmere Queen, said she is very excited about the next couple of races in the series.
“I think the next race for us will be the Gunnedah event at the end of May,” Craig said.
“She ran fourth at Tamworth in the heats last weekend, only a couple of races to go and we are trying to get the lead before the end.”
Cashmere Queen is also in the running to make the field for the popular $20,000 Showdown event at Wentworth Park in July and Craig believes if she gets in she will be more than competitive up against the likes of Golden Easter Egg Champion Dana Beatrice.
“Cashmere went down for the heats of the Futurity a few years ago but was a bit too young.
“She knows the track and it would be lovely to get into the draw and she would give them a run for their money, she’s a tough little bugger, a pocket rocket.”
Aberdeen trainer John Lawson has three runners in the top six on the leaderboard and with Elite Flash and Future Fund both competing in the series last year, he looks set to get some reward for the travelling and training hours he has put in to the Challenge over the last few years.
The next final of the 2008/09 GRNSW Country Challenge series is at Tamworth this coming Saturday 2 May with the heats of the Appin event also set for the same day.
GRNSW Country Challenge Leaderboard as at 30th April 2009
- Elite Flash 30
- Cashmere Queen 27
- Future Fund 25
- Black Warhorse 20
- Dana Tiger 20
- Elite Fury 17
- Assassin Journey 16
- Dana Beatrice 16
- Winona Gold 16