Juna Jinx, which is officially trained in South Australia by Gavin Harris, is in the care of Ketelaar for the Sandown Cup series while Harris is overseas, with the Victorian mentor happy with the blue bitch’s preparation going into Australia’s richest staying race following her 42.26 qualifying victory.
“I was happy with her heat win, although I thought she might have gone a little bit quicker because I know she can go faster, but in saying that she was probably a bit underdone,” Ketelaar told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“She pulled up really well after the run last week and has done all I wanted her to do in the lead up to the race so I think she is pretty well spot on – she should be better for the heat run going into the final.”
Luna Jinx, $16 with Bet365.com.au, moves into box six for the $175,000 to the winner feature on Thursday, with the daughter of Velocette and Hannah’s Jinx facing a quality line-up including dual group 1 winner No Donuts (box three) and rising star Zipping Kane (box seven).
“I would have preferred to have drawn closer to the fence,” Ketelaar conceded.
“The main concern is she might get interfered with trying to get across to the rails, but it is a distance race so hopefully she gets plenty of time to get across and into a good position.
“I am hoping she can settle just behind the speed, although she does have a bit of a tendency to get back a bit.”
Luna Jinx is no stranger to Ketelaar’s kennels, having resided at his McLaren Vale property during a number of series’ throughout her career, including the 2015 Group 1 Superstayers.
“I trained Luna Jinx’s grandmother, Springvale Jinx, about nine or 10 years ago and we had a lot of success with her – she ran second and third in two Sandown Cups.
“When Luna Jinx started to show promise Gavin decided to start going after some of the bigger races so they have sent her over to me on a few occasions including March last year when she took out the Superstayers at The Meadows on Australian Cup night.”
Ketelaar said it would be special to win the nation’s most prestigious distance event as he prepares to hang up the collar and lead after a long and successful career within the sport, with the veteran trainer rating Luna Jinx, which holds the third fastest time at Sandown over the 715m trip (41.34), a realistic chance of landing the prize.
At just over four years old, it would also be a spectacular victory for Luna Jinx, a winner of 26 races and $237,465 in prize money, who is likely to contest the Group 1 National Distance Championship series at her home track, Angle Park, before motherhood beckons.
“It would be a big thrill for us because I am going to retire from greyhounds soon after 40 years – so it would be nice to win another big one before we hang up the lead.
“She is still capable of getting down into the 41s – she trialled really well at Sandown last Saturday week.
“I know she can still run the times – she just needs that little bit of luck in running.
“She is a chance – at the end of the day there is only eight dogs in the race and one of them have got to win.”