THE Darren Russell-trained On The Clock collected time honours for this year's Group 2 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden (520 metres) after eight heats were held at Ipswich on Saturday night.
Beginning well from box seven, On The Clock got plenty of room to move in the early stages of the race and was able to stroll to the lead in the run to the line on the first occasion. Crossing to the rail through the catching pen, the son of Collision and Surin' Sal was in a race of his own, sprinting clear to record a five-and-one-quarter length victory over Tony Brett's Split Image.
On The Clock is from a hot litter which are just beginning to make their presence felt in the Sunshine State, the most notable thus far being Tripium which made it six wins from 10 starts when scoring in 29.76 at Albion Park on Thursday.
Just four one hundredths behind On The Clock's quick time on Saturday was Lucky Sally which scored a slick 30.56 win in heat five for Colin Horrigan. The black bitch was having her second start and showed terrific pace from box seven, leading all the way to record a seven-and-a-half length victory over Little Late Show.
Tony Brett had a successful night with two newcomers winning, the first of which being Thirty Talks which recorded a convincing win in the third qualifier. The regally bred son of Where's Pedro and Unfinished (Bombastic Shiraz x Stylish Scene) exploded out of box seven and burned to the early lead before stretching out to score emphatically by nine-and-one-quarter lengths in 30.57.
Brett's other winner was Paua To Avoid, a granddaughter of the mighty race bitch Paua To Burn. Despite beginning poorly from box three, the black bitch showed tremendous acceleration to find the front of the pack, assuming the lead through the first turn. Once on the bunny it was a case of times and margins, with Paua To Avoid clocking a smart 30.64 over the 520 metre trip.
Brett will be looking to go one better in this year's race, having run second with Crazy Sexy in the 2015 running.
Turn and Burn gave trainer Garry Gilbert a serious contender for the 2016 title after the white and black dog recorded a top win in heat seven. Although only away fairly from box four, the son of Fear Zafonic and Terrific Style was able to barge his way into some clear galloping room, railing underneath the early leader Wee Bit Lucky around the first turn to take control of the race. As was the tradition of the night, Turn And Burn extended the margin, eventually crossing the line seven-and-three-quarter lengths clear of Zabdon Ferrari in a tidy 30.61.
The Apap family will be aiming to win the Vince Curry for the second time in 2016, having won the 2012 edition with Brook Lee. This year they are represented in the series by Cincinnati Juice, a daughter of Made To Size and Tina's Show, which used box two to perfection on Saturday night when scoring a handy 30.77 victory. A younger sister to Group performers Peter's Pick and Maid For Ron, Cincinnati Juice defeated Vicki Wisener's Smack Dab by six-and-one-quarter lengths on the post, with Cynon Snip one length further back in third spot.
Punters were on the money with Cavalcade in the second heat which was able to overcome a terrible start to score. The Greg Stella-trained bitch fell out of box two but was able to cross to the fence soon after, railing underneath the field into second spot as the other runners fanned off around the first turn. Down the back Cavalcade began to knuckle down to the task, pushing her way under the lamplighter Noire Cherie to claim the lead before sprinting away to score in 30.99.
Cavalcade is one of the best bred pups to race in the series, being by Collision out of Miss Bel Air, a Group 1 finalist and the 2010 Warragul Oaks winner. Miss Bel Air is out of Casey's Angel, making her a sister to toppling performers such as Waymore's Blues, All Strung Out, Anything Less, Gone To Heaven and Living Proof, and she has already proven to be a valuable brood bitch having thrown pups the calibre of Bottom Dollar and Down Every Road.
The remaining heat was taken out by one of the roughies in Dodgy Dancer which was able to muster pace and circle the field in the run to the first turn. With carnage behind him, the red brindle son of Spring Gun and Gunadoo Dancer was able to pinch a break on his opponents, charging to the line to record a 31.27 win.
One of the most experienced greyhounds in the series, Dodgy Dancer was having his eighth career start on Saturday night, with the win booking him a spot in this week's semi-finals.
The top four greyhounds from each heat will progress through to the semi-finals which will be held at Ipswich on Saturday night, with contenders having to finish in the top two to qualify for the $48,000 winner's cheque on February 20.
Named after a stalwart of the Queensland greyhound racing industry, Vince Curry, the series is one of the most prestigious on the Sunshine State's greyhound racing calendar with some of the sport's finest having etched their name on the honour roll since its inception in 1984 including Token Prince (1997), Just The Best (1999) and High Earner (2009).
Watch On The Clock (7) winning his heat of the Vince Curry Memorial.