The attention of NSW Greyhound Racing this week has no doubt been on the heats of The Group One Golden Easter Egg, however on Thursday just two hours up the road, Maitland Showground was host to some interstate chasers and locals alike, all vying for a spot in the 2013 Gold Collar final.
Carrying a winning cheque of $4000, The Maitland Gold Collar series always attracts plenty of attention, with this year no different as four spectacular fields assembled for the series specifically aimed at short course specialists. The series provides the perfect appetizer for the 2013 Gold Cup held over the 450 metres with the heats to be conducted on the 4th April at the Showground Circuit.
The first heat went to the superbly bred Coastal Storm. Trained at Nabiac for astute mentor Craig Francis, the blue brindle sprinter had not had a start since last April when tailing the field in the 2012 Group 2 Maitland Gold Cup. By super sire Big Daddy Cool out of the prolific producer Bazwill, the rising four year old was bred to be fast with his first up performance from box six proving that neither his age nor his absence from the race track was an issue. With sixteen months difference between Coastal Storm and his next eldest competitor, the grand old campaigner showed the pups how it was done, defeating recent Maitland winner Armenra by a solid one and a half lengths in 22.52 seconds. The ultra-consistent performer now has the very impressive record of eight wins and three placing’s from just 18 starts, and whilst he has obviously has had his share of injury problems, based on Thursday’s performance, there should be plenty of wins left in him.
Heat two went the way of the airborne Swift Callah, who not only won in a blistering 22.48 seconds, but also broke the first section split held by handy bitch April’s Legacy when clocking an unbelievable 5.10 seconds to the turn out of the back straight. Trained at Albion Park by Jason Matthews, Swift Callah led from box rise and in turn gave sire Big Daddy Cool two qualifiers for next week’s final. The black bitch out of Star Callah has been a more than handy performer winning 23 of her 38 starts and has maintained her unblemished Maitland record of two starts for two wins. The Mark Azzopardi trained Transcend Time came in a close second and will definitely be better for the run, with the multiple city winner sure to improve after his first up performance since last November. The enormous 35 kilogram chaser certainly has an affinity with the showground circuit, previously clocking a scorching 25.13 seconds for the 450 metre trip, with the son of Elite Oriental well in contention for this week’s final.
Dave Irwin continued the interstate invasion in heat three with Scissor Queen continuing on her winning way when she obliterated her fellow canines by two and a quarter lengths in a smart 22.38 seconds. In a similar demonstration as last week, the pint sized powerhouse rocketed to the rails after a clean getaway and gave nothing else a look in at what was a breathtaking performance. The 25 kilogram daughter of Knocka Norris is all heart, rarely puts in a bad run and now has the dominant record of sixteen wins and three placing’s from 24 starts. Among these wins is the 2012 Grafton Cup and a scintinalling victory at Grafton where she went 27.15 seconds over the 480 metre journey- a mere two lengths off the track record. It is fair to say, whatever box she draws the red fawn dynamo will be a dominant favourite.
Irwin left with a double on Thursday night after Hot Tewin was also victorious in the third on the card. The White and Black speedster has had one previous start at the Maitland for a near record 24.95 seconds, and whilst Thursday’s time of 25.19 seconds was not quite as fast, it was just as impressive with the daughter of Give Me Five racing out wide from the yellow the entire trip until she was able to weave in between runners in the straight before drawing clear to win by three quarters of a length on the line.
The fourth and final heat went to a local with Diddy Strike defeating his opposition by six lengths and in turn striking up win number 23 for Bishops Bridge trainer Colin Kneeshaw. Kneeshaw has had a great deal of success with his ‘Diddy’ line which has produced some talented pups over the years. Some of his best were the talented bitches Diddy Rose and Diddy Shine, with the latter throwing her tenacity into Thursday’s winner, a son of both her and the great Elite State. Diddy Strike will soon turn four years of age, yet is still racing with a great deal of zest and has certainly been a fantastic frontrunner for his owner/trainer. Facing the starter on seventy three occasions, the black chaser who tips the scales at over 34 kilograms has now won a very impressive nine races at Maitland, with Thursday’s time a handy 22.56 seconds. Diddy Strike’s earnings now stand clear of the $34,000 mark- a fine feat for such an honest greyhound and his equally genuine mentor.
The box draw for the prestigious Gold Collar final will be released on today, and whilst Scissor Queen looks the early favourite, the draw will definitely determine who is her biggest threat with all runners capable of winning given the chance.