WHITTAKER stamped himself as the greyhound to beat in next week’s Group 3 Chairman’s Cup final (720m) with a determined heat victory at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Starting from box eight in the third and final qualifier, the Judith Fletcher-trained greyhound was installed as the $3.20 favourite by punters, with the black powerhouse coming into the feature following his last start effort in the Group 1 National Distance Championship at Angle Park.
Beginning cleanly from the outside draw, the son of Milldean Panther and Mrs Trickett was able to carve across the field in the early stages, taking the lead in the run out of the back straight on the first occasion and surging clear.
Once out in front his opponents were always going to find it tough to run him down, with the 32-kilogram greyhound stretching out to score by three lengths over Cawbourne Bright (box one) in a fast 42.17.
Filling the trifecta back in third was Madliena Girl (box two) for trainer Joseph Satti, with her finishing time also booking her a spot in the decider.
The impressive victory took Whittaker’s career statistics to 20 wins and 18 minor placings from 56 starts, with a win in next Saturday’s final set to take his career earnings above the $130,000 mark.
The first heat of the night was an open affair, with five runners starting under double figures and given a realistic shot of landing the prize. At box rise the favourite was Victorian stayer Come On Fantasy (box two), however she was never in contention after a poor beginning.
Instead taking the early lead was WA visitor Olivia Benson (box one) which used the inside draw to perfection, leading over Nangar Flame (box six) when the field settled down.
However, in the closing stages the two leaders began to tire, with track specialists More In Store (box five) and Cardiology (box four) both finishing off strongly, the former going home the best to score by two and a half lengths in 42.69.
Cardiology ran the trip out well to finish second, with Olivia Benson sticking on to grab third.
Trained by Mark Gatt, More In Store has now won 13 races, with the regally bred daughter of Kinloch Brae and Lady Arko now having won eight over the testing ‘half-mile’ at the Glebe circuit.
The remaining heat of the night went to an interstate campaigner, with Ringer (box six) proving too strong for his opposition.
After a fair beginning, the Aaron Debattista-prepared greyhound settled in third spot behind tearaway leader Carjack Arrest (box five) and Whispering Soul (box seven) before making his move down the back, hooking to the outside and moving into second position.
Despite giving Carjack Arrest a five length start swinging into the straight, the black dog was not going down without a fight, grinding away to hit the front and kicking clear to score by three lengths in a moderate 43.13.
Carjack Arrest tired in the run to the line but was able to cling on to second, with Tommy The Weapon (box four) rounding out the top three.
It was Ringer’s first victory since scoring at Sandown Park over 715m back in July, with the win giving him 13 triumphs from 56 starts.
The final of the Group 3 Chairman’s Cup will be run at Wentworth Park on Saturday September 10, 2016, and is worth $25,000 to the winner.
Group 3 Chairman’s Cup – box draw
Box One – Olivia Benson
Box Two – Madliena Girl
Box Three – More In Store
Box Four – Carjack Arrest
Box Five – Whittaker
Box Six – Ringer
Box Seven – Cardiology
Box Eight – Cawbourne Bright
1st Res – Tommy The Weapon
2nd Res – Lovelace