Group racing headed to Far North Queensland on Tuesday night at Townsville, with six heats of the Group Three Townsville Cup over the 498m distance. The heats featured dogs trained by top-class trainers Tony Brett and Robert Britton and also featured plenty of city winning greyhounds.
The six heat winners and two fastest seconds will contest the final on August 26, 2014. The final is worth $25,000 to the winner.
Yogi Blue (1) was clearly the class dog in the first heat, being the only FFA graded dog in the field. He had the perfect draw and duly saluted for trainer Peter O’Reilly. Pace Ventura (6) shot out of the boxes and was six lengths clear down the back straight. Yogi Blue was handy in second and overcame the weakening Pace Ventura down the home straight to draw away for a half-length victory in 28.79. Third place-getter was the fast-finishing Lilly Bellebird (7).
It was Yogi Blue’s first start at the track and the Cool Effort and Opal Assassin (Whisky Assassin – Zane’s Girl) dog has an overall career record of 22 wins from 72 starts. He is already a Group One finalist and is a city winner at Albion Park and Wentworth Park and will be considered one of the main chances in the final.
The Robert Britton trained Farmor Las Vegas (4) was the favourite in the second heat but the Victorian trained chaser almost didn’t make it to the track with kennel-hand Peter Riley stating earlier in the day “just the one racing tonight with Steve and Farmor Las Vegas hopefully making it in time for the Townsville Cup Heats tonight – next time the Boss tells the transporters the connection is too close, they will listen!” Despite this, all turned out well as Farmor Las Vegas made it to Townsville and took out the second heat in a tough chasing display in 28.92.
The Knocka Norris and Farmor Cee You (Black Enforcer – Farmor Zippy) dog was squeezed out of the race early and had to settle for fourth down the back straight. Wild Roses (7) was setting the pace out front with Zabini (1) and Tejay’s Grand (2) in hot pursuit. Farmor Las Vegas, who had been to the track on two previous occasions stuck to the rail and was able to run down the three greyhounds in front of him to win by a length over Webster (8), who put in an eye-catching run after being back in the pack for much of the race. Tejay’s Grand filled the minors.
Farmor Las Vegas has now won two at Townsville with a personal best of 28.73. He is the winner of the 2013 Silver Bullet at The Meadows and he has made multiple Group race finals in his career. This is another to add to his resume.
Tony Brett’s charge Chant (8) was considered the main chance in the third heat but he wasn’t able to handle the wide draw at his first look at the track and could only manage fourth. Cawbourne Hazard (1) emerged the leader after the first few strides but he couldn’t hang onto that lead down the home straight with $10 chance Glamour Row (5) finishing too strongly to win by three quarters of a length in 29.18. It was an exciting finish as Gumlow Star (6) just got past Cawbourne Hazard to take second spot.
Cyndie’s Special (5) and Fred Sealey (6) didn’t have the best draws but they featured heavily in the fourth heat. In fact, Fred Sealey had never won from box six but he changed that statistic by reeling in Cyndie’s Special in the closing stages of the race to win by an increasing two length margin in 28.97. Both greyhounds were having their first look at the track under race conditions and Fred Sealey handled it just that little bit better than Cyndie’s Special. Fearless Ruler (2) was the only other chaser in the field to stay in touch with the two front-runners and was able to secure third place.
Fred Sealey has won 13 career races from 49 starts and the Made To Size and Charming Molly (Whisky Assassin – Oreo) chaser is trained by Amy O’Reilly.
Post Box (6) gave the locals something to cheer about when he ran down the Tony Brett trained Exhibitionist (1) to snare a win by the barest of margins in 28.91. It was a huge finish by Post Box who was back in the field early and had to use plenty of the track. Road Warrior (8) unleashed an equally impressive finish to claim third prize. Exhibitionist finished second and may have done enough to qualify for next week’s final.
Post Box, trained by Michael Hickmott, is a black dog by Fear Zafonic and You Can Too (Brett Lee – Jeanie’s Queen). He has now won seven from nine at the track and he has a best time of 28.84.
Are Ate (2) finished off the heats in style, winning by the proverbial country mile in the fastest heat time of 28.67. He led from go to whoa and really staked his claim for the final next week with a strong run home that broke 15 seconds.
Are Ate, the 2014 Group Two Devonport Cup winner and 2014 Group Two Ipswich Auction winner, was vying for favouritism with Bill’s Fantasy (5). Bill’s Fantasy bombed the start and with that, lost all chance of challenging Are Ate and could only manage third. Cool Sprite (1) was the runner up.
Are Ate was having his first start at Townsville and the Lochinvar Marlow and Long Long Mama (Vesuvio – Eyre Intent) dog has now won 22 races for trainer Rachel Scott.
The finalists for next week will be – Yogi Blue (Peter O’Reilly), Farmor Las Vegas (Robert Britton), Glamour Row (Peter Simpson), Fred Sealey (Amy O’Reilly), Post Box (Michael Hickmott), Are Ate, (Rachel Scott), Pace Ventura (Peter Simpson) and Exhibitionist (Tony Brett).