This Saturday, eight of NSW’s best sprinters will converge at Wentworth Park for a crack at the NSW Sprint Championship in search of a ticket to The Meadows for the National Final and a crack at the $75,000 to the winner first prize.
Fastest heat winner Zulu Zeus stormed into calculations running a scintillating 29.69 seconds last week and has drawn in box eight for the decider. Whilst this may not be ideal for some, Zulu Zeus can handle himself out wide which will ensure that he commands attention.
Whilst he will be one of the dominant favourites, the race is also shaping up to be a clash between Zipping Willow and Amadeus Strikes, arguably the best two bitches racing in the state. Both bitches thrive at Wentworth Park and are airborne at present with Amadeus Strikes representing a seasoned campaigner whilst Zipping Willow is the new kid on the block who looks to have a very bright future ahead of her.
Amadeus Strikes is trained by Nowra Hill mentor, Steve White, and is a winner of 18 races throughout her 49 start career. The daughter of Bombastic Shiraz has always shown potential, contesting the final of the Vince Curry Maiden at just her third race start. Since then she has gone on to make the finals of the group three Big Dog Cup and the Richmond Oaks, whilst she ran second in the group two Ambrosoli and the group two Gosford Gold Cup and triumphed in the 2012 group three Nowra Puppy Classic.
Beginning from box six last week, Amadeus Strikes had to race wide around Black Rip and Fast Archer down the back before finding the lead on the home turn and kicking clear to score by a decisive six and three quarter lengths in a slick 29.79 seconds.
White was pleased with the run of his 29 kilogram chaser who has put in two phenomenal performances to score at her two most recent appearances in town
“It was a big run the week before because she hadn’t started since I took her to Melbourne where she ran second to Irma Bale so it had been close to a month since she has raced”, White explained.
“In her past two runs she has sat three wide and it’s not like she is doing it in a fifth grade, she is doing it in FFA company and doing it with ease”.
Whilst her talent is undeniable and has always been apparent, it has only been the last six months where she has really started to shine with her last five runs at Wentworth Park in that time resulting in five dominate victories. White attributes this to her experience, claiming that she has also started to mature mentally in that time.
“Being by Bombastic Shiraz I think she is just starting to mature a little bit”, White said.
“Since the Golden Easter Egg series is when she has come of age and it is like she has just grown. I think racing against good dogs has helped to build her confidence because they are experienced dogs and they know what they are doing so she hasn’t been getting knocked around as much”.
Moving into an awkward box five draw this week, White is not exuding much confidence amongst the hot field, but is not going to go down without a fight. Regardless of the tough assignment ahead, Amadeus Strikes has the class to feature in the finish.
“Even though she has got a big motor and likes to run home strong she has got it a bit hard to have to come from behind against these dogs who will be running fast times”.
“I have tried to keep her fresh this week- I had to do something because of box five”.
“Like everyone else we just want a bit of luck. All of the dogs are capable of running the times and none of them are slouches”.
Drawn beside her, in an equally poor draw is Jason Mackay’s Zipping Willow. Mackay is rarely without a top class chaser in his Hunter Valley kennel and it looks like his emerging talent will soon be challenging for the top spot.
In contrast to her fellow female competitor ,Amadeus Strikes, Zipping Willow has only faced the started on twelve occasions but has already strung together ten wins with her other two runs resulting in two placings.
The daughter of Goodesy and Sirocco Lass has set the track alight at The Gardens 22.49 seconds (400m), 29.33 seconds (515 metres) before transitioning to the big smoke where she has won six of her seven starts with a personal best of 29.59 seconds (520 metres).
Beginning brilliantly from box one in her heat Zipping Willow sprinted straight to the front and was never in danger from that point, holding on to secure victory by half a length over the strong finishing Where’s Wob in 29.81 seconds. Although it was definitely a quick time, it was not as fast as many had expected but Mackay was able to offer an explanation.
“Her last start she had to race two and three wide and she still got up and won in 30.08 but she pulled up with an injured nearside shoulder and for the next week she was under intense physio and didn’t have another run. She basically went into the Nationals series underdone so she should be fitter for the run this week”.
Whilst Mackay obviously knows her potential he is not one to get carried away with Zipping Willow still a pup by racing standards. Based on this Mackay is realistic that she is new to the racing game heading into this week’s final.
“You’ve got to try to keep both feet on the ground. This is only her first preparation and at his stage she is very new. She has only had 12 starts for 10 wins which is a great start to her career but box six is not ideal”, Mackay said.
“She can match most of them for pace so it will just come down to who makes the least mistakes on the night. If she begins and can cross them she is a big chance but less if she misses it because she will probably get tangled up from the draw”.
Whilst it is a testing race with no less than eight genuine winning prospects, Amadeus Strikes and Zipping Willow are shaping up to be two great chances for the girls to snare victory in the state title. Both bring to the race different experience levels and racing styles but both bitches share the same sheer speed and tenacity which will make the NSW Sprint Championship an exhilarating affair where they will certainly give the boys a run for their money.
The NSW Sprint Championship is race six at Wentworth Park this Saturday and will jump at 9:12pm whilst the NSW National Distance is race eight and is at 9:57pm.