Paddy looking to hit the bigtime in Group 1 NZ Derby

will be looking for another winner's rug tonight.

BIGTIME Paddy ( x Romberg Lass Aug '15) will be aiming to add another feature race to his rap sheet when he contests the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (457m) at Cambridge on Thursday night.

Last year's Group 1 Manawatu Cup winner, Bigtime Paddy is prepared by leading mentors Lisa and and was in his heat last week, running down front-running sprinter Dirk Bale (Fernando Bale x Langi Bale Aug '15) to win by half a length in a best of meeting 25.30.

Brendon Cole said he couldn't have been happier with his heat win, although he isn't thrilled with his charge's box four draw for the feature.

“He was brilliant in his heat – he did everything right,” Cole told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“It was great to see him show that ability in his heat, but he does move to box four for the final which is going to make things tough.

“He needs to find the rail – so it will all come down to a bit of luck, hopefully he can clear the three dogs on his inside and stay out of trouble in the early stages.”

Thursday's heat victory was particularly impressive, with Bigtime Paddy going into the race on a short back-up after winning at Manawatu in slick time three days prior. Cole concedes it wasn't the ideal preparation, but believes the additional hit-out will put ‘Paddy' in good stead for the decider.

“We have been struggling to get top grade races for him and he needed another run heading into the heats,” he explained.

“It was either race him or trial him so we decided to put him in at Manawatu three days before the heats and he came out and won in blistering time.

“Obviously he'll be having a lighter week this week heading into the final – he'll just have one hit out up my straight track and hopefully head into the race full of energy and ready to go.”

Bigtime Paddy is one of the most consistent chasers in training, winning 24 of his 55 starts with 19 minor placings. The black dog even ventured to Australia last year for a crack at the heats of the Group 1 Melbourne Cup, finishing fourth behind eventual runner-up .

“He got a bit of a virus while he was over there so he didn't run as well as we hoped,” Cole said.

“But he has done quite well since he has come back – he started favourite in the not long ago but got absolutely no luck in running and he also ran second in the Group 1 Hatrick Classic.

“He is a very talented dog – he is the best dog we've had for a while and he is only two and a half years old and I think he is really starting to mature now.

“With some experience under his belt I think we are going to see the best of him – hopefully he has another couple of nice wins in him.”

Team Cole will have two runners in the NZ Derby final this Thursday, also putting the polish on Bigtime Levi (Spring Gun x Bigtime Karen Sep '15) which ran second in his qualifier behind .

Although he is the second stringer for the kennel, Cole said the light fawn chaser is racing well.

“It was his first run on the track [in his heat] so we were very happy with him.

“He has a tendency to be a bit tardy early, but he is getting better lately and he loves the one turn tracks.

“I don't know if he is genuinely up to the class of some of these big name dogs in the race, but he is no slouch and I am sure he won't disgrace himself.”

The final is set to be a cracker, headlined by star litter mates Avenger Bale, (a two time group 1 winner) and (Auckland Cup winner) which have drawn boxes one, five and six respectively.

Also qualifying for the $45,000 race is Auckland Cup runner-up (Barcia Bale x Set To Shine Jul '15) which will exit wearing black and white stripes.

The Group 1 New Zealand Derby will be run and won at 8.03pm local time at Cambridge (Waikato) this Thursday night.

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