Miss Lauryn, the daughter of 2009 Darwin Cup winner Queen Lauryn; drew the prized red box at a trackside draw after the heats on Monday night.
In a display of true Darwin spirit the box draw was conducted by connections of the greyhound selecting a “Darwin Stubbie” with the box number displayed on the bottom.
Heather Donnelly, who was handling and looking after Miss Lauryn for absent Queensland trainer Tony Brett; was initially thrilled with the prospect of box 1, but more hesitant in the moments after when Australian Racing Greyhound spoke with her after the draw.
“We’re thrilled to have the rails” said Heather, before adding “We haven’t had a chance to speak with Tony (Brett) yet but she will need to get away better than she did this week”.
Donnelly, who along with husband Peter is accommodating all the Tony Brett and Darren MacDonald greyhounds during the cup series; was quick to add that “None of the greyhounds had seen the track before tonight’s heats and we would expect they will all begin better on Friday”.
Along with Miss Lauryn, Donnelly’s other guest, Take It All was successful winning a heat of the Darwin Cup for Darren MacDonald who travelled with the greyhound.
However both greyhounds were not quick to begin and were shuffled back in the field before unleashing spectacular runs to reel in the leaders in the home straight and race away.
Miss Lauryn was perhaps the more impressive of the two winners, having been buried and checked twice before being held up until well in to the back straight and reeling in local champ Swansea Jacky; who stop like shot after getting out to a race winning lead mid race.
Fellow interstate raider Catwalk, showed the benefit of a race at Winnellie Park the week prior, beginning well from box 8 to lead all the way and take out the remaining heat of the cup in a respectable 31.36 for Gold Coast trainer Norm Bradford. That compared favourably with Miss Lauryn’s 31.44 and Take It All’s 31.37.
Catwalk was perhaps the best of those three to benefit from the feature box draw, coming up with box 7 and will start outside Take It All from box 6, who will need to begin much better with his second look at the track to be a live chance in the final.
Local champ Swansea Jacky has drawn very well in box 2 and looks the likely early leader with Catwalk, but will need her trainer Graeme Fern to work a small miracle in the short four day turnaround from the heats, after the tiny 24kg bitch looked very short in her action fading in the run to the line to get overhauled by Miss Lauryn in finishing second. Swansea Jacky had won her past 7 starts in a row prior to running second in the heat.
Miss Lauryn’s trainer Tony Brett is looking to secure his fourth Darwin Cup, while long time master trainer Darren MacDonald will have all his hopes on Take It All to secure his first major NT race success.
Gold Coast trainer Norm Bradford goes in to tonight’s race with numerically the best chance in the race promoting all three of his Darwin Cup greyhounds to the final. Apollo Ohno and Cascades will start alongside heat winner Catwalk from boxes 5 and 3 respectively after all three were given the benefit of a look at the track a week prior to the heats.
Queenslander Tom Tzouvelis will start Tee Brady from box 8 after he overcame a slight early check to finish third behind Take It All, but realistically he looked a little too one paced to be a live chance in the final despite the likelihood the wide draw will be a boost.
Local trainer Brian Kelleher will start Typhoon Banquet from box 4 after he finished second to Catwalk from the same box in the heat, but wanted to use all of the track going through the first corner and would need a miracle to secure the cup for the locals. However the black son of Goodesy may well determine much of the finishing order, as a repeat performance through the first corner will ruin the chances of those outside him and gift runs to Miss Lauryn and Cascades who are likely to be buried back on the rail early.
The final of the 2013 Darwin Cup will be run as Race 5 on tonight’s 8 race card and the gates open at 6:30pm with the first race to kick off at 7:39pm. A huge crowd is expected with a punt-mad influx of visitors in town to take in tonight’s canine Darwin Cup and Monday’s equine version.