HUNTER Valley sprinter Knight Sprite will be aimed at the upcoming Group 1 Paws of Thunder (520 metres) series at Wentworth Park after a gutsy victory in Friday night’s Group 2 Gosford Gold Cup (515 metres).
Stepping from box seven in the $40,000-to-the-winner final, Knight Sprite managed to cross a talented field in the run around the first turn, kicking clear down the back and holding off a late challenge from Eva Diva (box eight) to score by a neck in 29.66.
Cash In Motion (box one) filled the trifecta spot one-and-a-half lengths behind the winner, with race favourite Smart Missile (box two) following the field into the pen after falling.
It was the first Group victory of Knight Sprite’s career and the first for his Hexham-based trainers, husband and wife team Gayle and Wayne Masterson.
“It is still very surreal – it is still sinking in,” Gayle told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“There were some very good dogs in the race but I thought that if he jumped well and did everything right like he did in his heat then he would give himself every chance.”
Masterson said she was very impressed with the style of the victory, although she admitted to having a few nervous moments throughout the event.
“He copped a good bump when he crossed the field going through the first bend but he pushed through it and he kept going – he is a good boy.
“I was holding my breath down the back, but he always tries his hardest so I knew that if he had it in him he would get over the line in front, but when he actually did it I was just so excited, apparently I was jumping up and down screaming behind the boxes.”
For Masterson, who is assisted at the racetrack by her 18 year old grandson Kynan, it has been a whirlwind ride since Knight Sprite commenced his career just over a year ago, with the black dog also delivering Gayle her first city winner after more than three decades of training.
Knight Sprite will be aiming to add $75,000 to that amount in the coming weeks when he heads back to Sydney for the Paws of Thunder series.
Masterson says she has no expectations from her gallant speedster heading into the feature, and is already over the moon with what he has achieved throughout his career.
“It is very exciting and hopefully the ride is far from over because he isn’t even three yet – but for now we are just enjoying every moment of it.
“As I was walking back from the presentation someone said to me that he would be sleeping in my bed that night – but after what he has done he can have the whole house.”