Displaying his customary impeccable box manners, Paw Licking was the clear leader out of the boxes and was never headed, recording 25.05 on a rain affected track.
After being kept fresh in the lead-up, Natural Player (3) was able to lob in a handy position and went extremely well to finish three and a quarter lengths behind Paw Licking. Rose Sannette (1) kept her good record from box one intact, securing third spot by a nose from the fast finishing Gradence (7).
Paw Licking was the hot favourite before the race and trainer Kel Greenough was relieved that the Elite State – Kingsbrae Di (Solve the Puzzle – Pretty Jacalyn) could pull off the win.
“It’s hard enough having the dog that’s the favourite, everyone expects him to win. There’s a lot of pressure when people expect you to win a race. It’s all well and good if you win it but if you don’t win it, it’s more of a relief really to come up here and win,” Kel said after the race.
After the stressful experience of being left in a crate for hours on the return trip to Melbourne after the heats last week, Kel ensured Paw Licking was prepared for any mishaps his week, flying to NSW on Tuesday to make sure Paw Licking was settled before the race.
The Maitland Cup victory is the 30th career win for Paw Licking and he has now amassed over $380,000 in prize-money. There’s a few big races coming up that Paw Licking could potentially target, including the Golden Easter Egg, Warrnambool Classic and the Bendigo Cup.