The star Victorian will jump from box three in the third of four heats where she will need to finish in the top two in order to qualify for the $75,000-to-the-winner showpiece next week.
Up Hill Jill comes into the race on the back of a second placing in the Group 1 Bob Payne Spring Sprint at Wentworth Park behind Watch The Wasp earlier this month, having trialled in a fair 30.29 at Dapto last week in preparation for the Megastar.
Trainer Dave Geall says he is not overly concerned with her trial time and expects his bonny bitch to bring her A-game on Thursday.
“She trialled there last Thursday night and although she didn’t go overly quick it doesn’t really bother me because she never really trials well – she saves her best for race day,” Geall told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“On top of that a lot of the trainers were telling me the track was slow and there was a very strong wind which made it tough conditions – a lot of dogs were only running mid to high 30s so perhaps her run was better than it actually looks on paper.”
It won’t be an easy task for the black bitch in her heat up against a quality field including Another Gangsta (El Grand Senor x Lover’s Quarrel Apr ’15), Rohan Hill (Brett Lee x Cawbourne Whip Mar ’15), Watch The Wasp (Shakey Jakey x Midnight News Jan ’15) and Mack Tux (Lochinvar Marlow x Oxley Falcon Apr ’14).
Despite this, Geall is confident his consistent speedster can run another honest race as she strives to qualify for her ninth group race final.
“Dapto seems to be a track where you need to be in the first two to have a chance and luckily for her she is up near the lead most of the time,” he said.
“If she can get away ok and put herself in the race early I expect her to go well.”
A winner of 25 from 46 with 16 placings and more than $278,000 in career earnings, Geall says the Megastar could be the last group race Up Hill Jill contests away from Victoria in the coming months.
“We think she might be getting a bit sick of the travelling – she has been on the road a lot throughout her career and it may be beginning to take its toll,” he said.
“We’ll wait and see how she goes throughout this series – we might miss the Adelaide Cup and just keep her at home ahead of the big races in Melbourne coming up in the next few months.”
In the meantime, Geall’s focus will remain solely on Dapto this Thursday night as he aims to have his kennel star primed to qualify for the final.
The Lara trainer is hopeful that the Megastar is the series where Up Hill Jill can finally break through for a long-overdue win at the highest level.
“She deserves to win a group 1, but that means nothing at the end of the day,” he said.
“When you are racing in these big races you have got to be at your peak and unfortunately she seems to keep finding one better on the night.
“It is a bit frustrating, but we are hopeful that she will be able to win one.”
Four quality heats of the Megastar will be run on Thursday night – with other big names to watch out for including Mister Twister (Collision x Double Twist Jan ’15), Riley Tokaam (Don’t Knocka Him x Skyela Tokaam Mar ’15), Aqua Cheetah (Cosmic Rumble x Dalta Bale Mar ’14), El Magnifico (El Grand Senor x Little Grey Mar ’14), Champion Model (High Earner x Clay Model May ’15) and Barking Bad (Bella Infrared x Ebby Miss May ’14).