Hot off the heels of the Group One Golden Easter Egg, the group race action continues just two hours up the road at Maitland Showground today with the running of the Group Two GE Industrea Gold Cup. The $40,000 to the winner feature has attracted some of the country’s top short course sprinters and one turn speedsters, whilst it has also helped to unveil some emerging young talent looking to break their way onto the scene.
Jumping from the cherry in the final is grand old campaigner Bralyn County, with the four and a half year old still racing in fine style shown last week when he scored an impressive heat win in a brilliant 25.20 seconds over second reserve Dinkum. Trained by the astute Dave Irwin of Maudsland Queensland, the black sprinter has won twenty two races from forty five starts and will be looking to make it the second feature win for Irwin at Maitland in recent weeks, after his super bitch Scissor Queen took out the $4000 Gold Collar final last month.
Bralyn County has been a model of consistency throughout his career which started when he memorably notched up eleven straight wins at his first eleven starts back in 2010. The black dog is owned and bred by Brad and Lynne Northfield from their group winning bitch Bralyn Maisie who took out the Ladies Bracelet final at Wentworth Park. This will be Bralyn County’s second chance at The Maitland Gold Cup final after he was unsuccessful in 2010 from box six behind Reggie Kay’s champion Elite Blue Size. Box one is a definite advantage for Bralyn County who could run a cheeky race along the rails if he can jump well and avoid the trouble from the outside.
Beginning from box two will be industry blue blood Transcend Time for Appin trainer Mark Azzopardi with the brindle speedster aiming for his third straight win at Maitland. The son of legendary sire Bombastic Shiraz won his heat very convincingly last week, showing enormous acceleration from box rise, stretching out to win by three and three quarter lengths on the line in a fast 25.20 seconds. Transcend Time has won eleven races from just twenty starts including four from four over the track and distance at Maitland, whilst he also boasts an ominous record from the inside boxes making him well boxed in the checks. An interesting fact to note about this dog is that he is out of the lightning fast bitch Elite Oriental who placed third in the Maitland Gold Cup twice during her stellar career, first in 2008 behind Awesome Hustler and again the following year behind Julie Fletchers Magnifique.
Lake Munmorah powerhouse Johnny Fire will jump in the final wearing white for trainer Trevor Hagney with the son of Knocka Norris qualifying for the final as the fastest second behind Werynski last Thursday. The black dog comes into the decider with fantastic form after running third in the recent Group Three New Sensation series at Wentworth Park. Whilst he may not have taken out his heat last week, he comes up with a good draw and can bounce back. The biggest thing holding him back is his box manners, as he tends to need a few strides before his motor kicks in, however if he does get room to move, he can run blistering times as shown at Wentworth Park when he ran a breathtaking 29.88 seconds in is semi-final less than three weeks ago.
Jumping on his outside will be the fastest of last Thursday’s heat winners, Unexplained for Londonderry mentor Majella Ferguson. The black son of Where’s Pedro and prolific producer Stylish Scene looks the early favourite despite the poor draw after his scintillating 24.95 seconds heat triumph- just .07 off the current track record held by Exclusive One. Unxplained’s run last week was enormous given the weather conditions which saw rain fall for the majority of the twilight meeting with the 33 kilogram chaser recording his tenth win from a mere 18 starts and maintaining his flawless record of the Showground circuit where he has won four from four. If he can get out with the field and avoid the dogs from the outside who will no doubt be searching for the rails, the two and a half year old has a brilliant shot at taking out the feature.
Champion Victorian trainer Jason Thompson has a double shot at the feature in 2013, with the first of his qualifiers Werynski searching for his fourth straight victory after his all the way heat win last week where he recorded 25.29 seconds for the 450 metre trip. The white and black dog began well and led all the way over Trevor Hagney’s promising pup Johnny Fire who stuck on brilliantly half a length behind the winner in second. Werynski’s heat triumph was his tenth race win from nineteen starts with the son of Knocka Norris and Cashmere Queen drawing awkwardly in box five for the final. The lightly raced dog turns three this month, and whilst racing fantastically at present, he will need to do everything right from the awkward alley.
Thompsons second runner will start on Werynki’s outside in box six, and happens to be group winning bitch El Brooklyn. The stunning white and blue daughter of El Galo and Dark Mayne has been a sensational sprinter for Thompson winning twenty two races from 38 starts including the 2013 Healesville Cup and the Listed Ultra Sense final held at Wentworth Park on Golden Easter Egg night. El Brooklyn qualified for the final when she was a prominent second to the up and coming speedster Black Magic Opal. Whilst the talented bitch may have only had one official race start at Maitland, she was reared around the area and had her performance qualifying trial at the track where she stopped the clock in a scorching 25.08 seconds. If she can run anywhere close to that time in the final this week, she will certainly go close to taking home the winner’s cheque for Thompson who is no stranger to training a group winning greyhound.
Beginning from box seven will be the exciting pup Black Magic Opal for Budgewoi husband and wife team Leslie and Carol Hudson. Beginning with the field in his heat the son of Magic Sprite and Awesome Opal showed a massive turn of foot, quickly sprinting away from top class bitches Scissor Queen and El Brooklyn to score a dominant win in a flying 25.16 seconds. Black Magic Opal has the intimidating record of eleven wins and three seconds from just fourteen starts and was the second youngest participant aimed at the entire series, despite his young age, he has one of the best chances of winning the feature with a perfect record to his name at the track and a stunning personal best of 25.01 seconds.
Last but not least is Exquisette Kari who will jump from the pink alley on Thursday night. The solid 33 kilogram blue bitch was the rank outsider when she took out her heat last week in a handy 22.45 seconds, and in turn paying $37.70 for the win. Whilst she has a great record from the outside, she will need to find a bit more this week against the big gun sprinters in the final. Despite the fact that she looks a tad outclassed, her owner/trainer Peter Dunn has done a fantastic job qualifying the sprinter for the final. Exquisette Kari has won twelve races from just thirty starts and has been a handy performer for her Dubbo mentor.
With such a high quality field it is hard to pick a winner, however I am leaning towards Black Magic Opal from box seven. Every time I have doubted him due to a rise in class over recent weeks he has proven me wrong so I am willing to stick by him for the final. Unexplained should get a nice run into the race with a slow beginner on his inside, with El Brooklyn also a genuine chance despite her poor draw.
With the main final no doubt the draw card, there is also some high quality chasers going around in the other races. Sisters Noelene Holloway and Lorraine Atchinson will be competing against each other in the maiden final when they line up highly talented littermates Mike Marlow and King Sapphire who are both bred from Noelene’s fantastic producer Fascinate Marina, and look to have a good shot despite their awkward box draws of four and five respectively after they both won their heats in dominant fashion on Thursday.
Race six on the card is the $2000 Gold Cup Consolation which will see Jason Mackay’s Man of Manners; a winner of ten from 27 take on the Julie Fletcher trained Dinkum who gets another chance to be first past the post on Thursday after a run of bad luck in the top class races over recent weeks. On his outside in box three is the Mark Wilcox trained Knocka’s Return who has the exciting record of eight wins from eleven starts with a best of 25.05 seconds over the track and distance.
Racegoers should also stay on course after the main race to see Dave Irwin’s speedy bitch Scissor Queen who will start from box eight in race nine. The red fawn bitch will be aiming to bounce back to the winners list after her luckless fourth in last week’s Gold Cup heats.
The first race at Maitland Showground today is at 7:29pm whilst the lids will fly open for The Group Two Maitland Gold Cup at 9:58pm.