Drama and sensation were the order of the opening day of the historic $250,000 Platinum Paws greyhound meeting at Addington yesterday, and easily the biggest sensation was the exit of hotly favoured local bitch Winsome Ashley, who went out of the series after falling at the first turn and spraining a wrist.
The injury means a two-week stand-down in any case, but it cruelly prevents the star of last season from taking any further part in the series. The first four from each of the six heats go through to the semi-finals next week, with the $250,000 final the following week.
It is by far the richest dog race run in New Zealand and up with the top Australian races.
Before the race, co-trainer Jean Fahey was reasonably confident the bitch would at least qualify for the next stage.
“She has needed her recent racing and should be coming back to her best now,” said Fahey.
Winsome Ashley was a little slow out of the start, as she has often been, and was the centre of the melee at the first turn for the second time in her glittering career.
Yesterday’s fall could be the end of her racing career, during which she has been cruelly robbed of Greyhound of the Year honours under the criteria set for the award.
She has won 21 of her 29 starts to date.
The race produced a major upset by Hear the Cheers ($31.50), and Smash Palace ($11.40) continued the trend in the following heat when searing favourite Uno Witch also missed the start but sneaked home late into fourth place to qualify for the next round.
The stars of the heats included NZ Waterloo Cup winner Magic Spike, trained by Steve Clark at Albany, which won easily in a slick 30.55 for the 520m a time he could easily have bettered if pushed on his Addington debut.
Lynlea’s King looked a little lost at times in his track debut, holding third on his heat for Melbourne trainer Angela Langton.
An even more impressive visitor from Australia, Brisbane’s Size Can Matter, ran the fastest time of 30.30 from the six heats, winning well.
Beside Que Sera Sera, which is in Christchurch and previously qualified for the semi-final, there are other Australian dogs yet to arrive who have gained automatic entry.
Courtesy : Davd McCarthy, The Press