Trained by leading conditioners Jean and Dave Fahey, Opawa Rooster began brilliantly off box three and never gave his rivals a chance, racing to the line to win by nine and a half lengths in a fast 29.99.
Roughie Goldstar Ashton (Yella Mustard x Know Love Affair Nov ’15) finished second ahead of Opawa Purdie (Fabregas x Opawa Rosie Mar ’16) – a kennel mate to the winner – which rounded out the trifecta back in third.
Race favourite Full Speed (Bekim Bale x Culvie Magic Jan ’16) was poorly away from box five and never got in the race, finishing sixth.
Dave Fahey said he went into the race hoping Opawa Rooster could improve off his second-placing in his heat behind Full Speed.
“He made up a heap of ground in his heat, so we knew he’d be a huge chance in the final if we could get him to come out running,” Fahey told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He has been a terrible box dog throughout his career, but we spent plenty of time this past week jumping him out of the boxes and it paid off.
“When he jumped straight to the front I was pretty confident because I thought he was the strongest dog in the race.”
Owned and bred by the Opawa Racing Syndicate, Opawa Rooster has now won nine of his 26 starts with 10 placings and has earned close to NZ$33,000.
Fahey said it was rewarding to finally see the youngster put his best paws forward.
“He’s always shown ability – he is a good trial dog but hasn’t always shown it in races because of his box manners.
“But I was hopeful he’d put it all together one day because I know how good he is and thankfully he showed that last week – he broke 30 seconds on Thursday and he had previously gone 30.08 so he can definitely run.”
Fahey, who trained his 100th group winner last August, confirmed Opawa Rooster will now be aimed at the heats of the Group 1 NZ Derby on March 22, with the final worth a sizeable $45,420.
The Balcairn trainers had a big night at Christchurch last Thursday, also landing the other main feature of the night, the $11,440 NZ Racing Series Distance Final (732m).
The race, which is open only to NZ-bred greyhounds, attracted a quality field, with Translator (Bekim Bale x Delusionist Jan ’15) weaving her way through the field to record a solid two length win in 43.71.
She has now won three of her six starts since resuming from a two month spell and Fahey is hopeful her best is yet to come.
“She had an injury-enforced spell and the break seemed to help her out mentally too – since she has been back she seems to be racing a lot braver and taking some gaps she wouldn’t have in the past.
“She is on the improve, definitely. She has only ever jumped well once in her life and that was over 520m at Addington – she went 29.87 which isn’t far off the record – if she ever did that again I think we’d really see what she is capable of.”
Fahey said Translator has the ability to match it with the best stayers in the country and he will now set her for a group campaign, the main goal being NZ’s richest race, the $87,965 Silver Collar, in June.