The is the second part of a major redevelopment for the track that started with an extension to the catching pen area, which was in use for the first time at last week’s meetings and has been thoroughly endorse by all that raced on the weekend.
The new 400 metre starting point replaces the original 413 metres boxes, and makes first 30 metres a straighter run, giving competitors a safer and fairer start. The NCA acknowledges that no bend start is perfect, but the new starting point for short course events is a great improvement for all participants.
Punters and racing enthusiasts won’t have long to wait to see the new boxes in action with the meeting today kicking off with the NSW NCA Maiden, that will jump from the new starting point.
But, the feature event of the meeting is race six, the Gardens Social Club Versatility Final over 515 metres, for greyhounds that qualified over 413 metres last Friday. The Versatility series is made possible by the tireless work the Gardens Social Club puts into raising funds that funnel back into prizemoney.
The final has been robbed of one it’s star attractions with the early scratching of Lochinvar Marlow, which ran a sensation 23.48 in his heat, the third fastest ever under race condition and he would have started a pronounced favourite.
The scratching of the nominal favourite has opened the way for track specialist Rachael Robbo, which was a determined heat winner last week, to make it five straight victories for popular couple Eileen and Gary Robertson. Rachael Robbo is the epitome of versatile, winning 11 races at The Gardens over three distances, 413, 515 and 600 metres.
There is also a great support card with two heats of the Multicam Middle Distance series over 600 metres, with leading kennels represented from the local area, Sydney and as far north as Pillar Valley, near Grafton.
In the first heat, race two, the Kearsley trained Carla looks the one to beat, while in heat two, race seven, WA Oaks placegetters Odessa Shiraz should start a short priced favourite, but the Kristy Sultana trained chaser won’t have it all her own way as she clashes with Ken Cheetham’s high quality youngster, High Ball, which will be well suited by a step up in distance.
Today is the start of two big days of racing at The Gardens, with Saturday the opening round of the three week Laurie Healion Memorial series, with the final on Friday August 6 worth $20,000 to the winner.
The eight heats of the ‘Healion’, promise to unearth another future star of the track with greyhounds from kennels such legendary trainers John and Minnie Finn, Steve Kavanagh, the trainer of iconic 1980’s chaser Brother Fox and more recently the owner and breeder of Cosmic Rumble, winner of Australia’s richest ever race, the 2010 Golden Easter Egg and Kel Greenough, the man who put the polish on 2009 Black Top champion and Australian Greyhound of the Year, Cindeen Shelby.
You can bet live on today’s bumper meeting at The Gardens at Sportsbet or Iasbet, with the first race of the early evening program scheduled to kick off at 4.02pm AEST.