Group One action will hit The Gardens this Friday afternoon, with four heats of the Group One National Derby and Group One National Futurity to be conducted.
Greyhounds will arrive at the Birmingham Gardens circuit from all over Australia, in a bid to secure the sensational $75,000 first prize money on offer for each final winner.
Heat one of the National Futurity will kick off proceedings, with a few newcomers to the track, including last start winners; Bella Senora (2), who won the Australian Racing Greyhound Summer Cup last Thursday at Maitland over the 450m in a very quick 25.26, and Zipping Electra (7), for champion breeder Martin Hallinan, a winner over the 280m at Wentworth Park in 16.21. Cawbourne Cobra (3) has the fastest personal best at the track; recording 30.00 back in July of last year and can win this after some consistent performances at Wentworth Park.
Heat one of the National Derby sees another Hallinan runner in Zipping Snoopy (1) ideally drawn on the rails, having recorded two victories at Horsham (23.35, 410m) and Shepparton (25.85, 450m) in his preparation. Topper Harley (3) for Anthony Azzopardi comes into this race with solid Wentworth Park form and has genuine pace to lead this field. Black Road (7) put in an impressive performance during a stewards trial last week at Richmond for in-form trainer Mark Gatt, clocking a fast 30.64 and will be highly competitive in this affair.
Smashing Sally (2) will step out in heat two of the Futurity for trainer Neil Falk after two slick performances at Richmond over the past two weeks, clocking a personal best of 30.45. Dean Swain has another strong chance in this heat with Rue De Khan (4) having excellent form at the track with a personal best of 29.80. Recording three wins from four starts; this bitch is very strong in the latter stages and look for her at the finish. Cawbourne Rev (7) has been consistent of late, with a 29.66 personal best at Unibet Gardens and has enough early pace to get across from the wide draw.
Group One Brisbane Cup hero Kiss Me Ketut (7) will be looking to take out heat two of the National Derby for owner-trainer David Burnett, after some mixed form of late at Wentworth Park during the Paws of Thunder series. The winner of seventeen races can bounce back and has recorded blistering times all over the country. Evil Punk (2) ran a super race finishing second behind Gradence in the Paws of Thunder consolation last week at Wentworth Park and has good early pace to lead this field. Ritza Raider (6) is yet to be unplaced after ten starts and should run a cheeky race from an awkward draw, whilst Waymore’s Blues (1) has an excellent career record of five wins from nine starts and can’t be ignored from the favourable inside alley.
A newcomer to the Mark Gatt kennel, She’s Scandalous (1) gets a great chance to display her talent in heat three of the Futurity from the red rug at her first attempt around the two turn circuit. Unbelief (5) has flown around The Gardens at her past two attempts, recording 29.79 and 29.77, making her a genuine contender to take out this heat. In-form trainer Adam Wade has another talented chaser engaged in Peta Pitstop (6), impressive at Maitland last week over the 450m, clocking 25.30.
Superstar in the making Red Road (8) will exit from the wide alley in heat three of the National Derby for trainer Mark Gatt, and will only have to step cleanly to clock a blistering time. A winner six races from just eight starts, including a sizzling 30.22 at Richmond. Punters are already labelling him a series favourite. Zipping Brock (4) comes into this heat with some solid performances around the Victorian tracks for trainer Peter Dapiran, including a 29.73 personal best at Sandown. My Boy Snoop, for well-respected Hunter Valley trainer Brett May, has an ideal draw on the rails, with a sensational 29.56 time at the track. Recording a brilliant win two weeks ago at Wentworth Park in 29.92, expect a bold showing from this son of Where’s Pedro and National Futurity winner Daydream.
An amazing line up of bitches will compete in the final heat of the Futurity, with two-time Group winner Ritza Hattie (2) returning to the track she made her debut. She clocked a blistering 29.41 over the 515m journey back in July of last year. The unanimous series favourite; bred, owned and trained by Mark Gatt, has good early pace and will take some running down from a superb draw. Cawbourne Whip (3) enthralled enthusiasts during the St Ledger series at this track, recording a flying 29.46, and will provide a great battle with Ritza Hattie if she begins well. Larni Banarni (1) and Premier Mozz (5) have both won their past two starts in respectable times and can figure for the minors.
The final heat of the Derby will be an exciting race. Boyce Road (6) returns from a fourth placing in the Group One Paws of Thunder final in an easier field and will be highly competitive if he gets room early. He sizzled around Wentworth Park in his heat of the Paws, clocking 29.69, expect him to be storming home at the finish. Kelly Bravo and Take Charge (3) will make the trip up from Victoria. He has three consecutive wins under his belt and is a threat to take this out and book a semi-final spot. Tricky Pluto (7) has got plenty of ability and can figure in the finish. He ran second here last week and saluted at Wentworth Park the week prior in 29.99.
Heat one will kick off at 3.48pm EDST time on Friday afternoon, with the first four place getters moving through to next week’s semi-finals.