Three Way NZ Breeders' Kennel Challenge

The $40,000 New Zealand Breeders’ Stakes is all about the Kiwi-bred Restricted Aged greyhounds.

Pic: Allegro Gun who was the quickest NZ Breeders’ Stake 520m heat winner

The Group 1 event brings together youngsters who epitomises the cream within their age group. It is entirely appropriate that Friday’s decider at the Hatrick Raceway sees the 520m field being dominated by three leading kennels, who all race a fair portion of locally bred greyhounds.

It is also appropriate that the trio of kennels involved represents the three racing regions which the country is divided into.

From the central region is the nation’s current leading conditioner Lisa Cole (628 winners this season) who provides three finalists, plus the first reserve. Her recent Palmerston North 457m Group 2 winner Allegro Gun ($4.50 – TAB Final field – option 988) was the quickest of the three 520m heat winners from last Friday.

He dictated the pace throughout for his 30.11s win and drawing trap five for this final says the Hatrick 305m sprint track record (17.07s) holder must adopt that same tactic. “He has had a solid preparation for this final and he is getting stronger with each race over the middle distances.

“He got through to the back mark the quickest (18.43s) in his heat, even though he copped some early jostling. He is likely to jam across the face of the field from the jump, so it depends on how he comes out. We expect him to produce a similar race in the final. He has pulled up real good and is all set for Friday,” said the trainer’s husband Brendon Cole.

Spare Some Time ($3) stylishly won the recent Group 1 520m NZ Futurity at this venue and he holds sound winning claims in the final after taking out his heat in 30.15s. He achieved that win from trap eight and drawing the seven trap on Friday is going to suit his racing style.

“He has matured into being a top dog and he is in career best form, being right in the groove at the moment. He can do it at both ends as he has pace and strength. He has drawn ideally for his racing style and we’re happy with the way he has come through his heat,” confirmed Cole.

Bigtime Flyer ($16) is developing into a more than handy greyhound and he showed that when chasing Allegro Gun all the way in his heat for his three-length second. “He is the baby of the field (May 2015 whelp) however he is improving all the time. He does have a massive motor and he also has early pace. He isn’t as strong as the others at this stage, although he will get there.

“His race will be decided on what he does from the traps. We are happy with the way he has developed in his recent races and the way he has come through his heat,” advised Cole, who also added about their first reserve Bigtime Welldone ($21), “He can gallop (his 29.88s 520m best time confirms that) however he must jump better in a field like this if he gets a race.”

Allegro Gun Spare Some Time Bigtime Flyer

The three Lisa Cole prepared NZ Breeders’ Stakes finalists (from left): Allegro Gun; Spare Some Time; Bigtime Flyer

Canterbury trainers Dave and Jean Fahey mentored Opawa Shackley to victory in this feature last year, which was their fifth training success in this event. They are also returning with three finalists on Friday.

The draw says their strongest winning prospect appears to be Opawa Brad ($7.50) who will jump from trap one. He hasn’t drawn this well for a long time and it was a bold heat effort he delivered for his 1.25 length heat second to Thrilling Surge.

“He overcame a first turn to check to qualify. He was overdue for a good draw and he needed a good draw for Friday which he has got. He is all set to produce a strong race,” said Dave Fahey about his Opawa Racing bred and owned chaser who are obviously seeking back to back NZ Breeders’ Stakes success.

Albie Punter ($7.50) is a determined railing girl, therefore her heat qualifying effort was very solid after she hopped away from trap seven which saw her finishing stoutly to claim her 3.5 length third behind Allegro Gun.

Kennelmate Opawa Racer ($26) used her known strength the secure her final field position. She had settled in the rear group from where she picked her way past heat rivals, resulting in her 4.25 length third to Spare Some Time. She must break quicker on Friday, just like she did when she led all the way for her prior Addington 645m win.

“Albie Punter will go down to the rail (from trap three). She will sit on the rail and she can capitalise if there’s any trouble (first turn). Opawa Racer is racing with a lot more confidence now – her recent 645m races have assisted her in that area and I feel she is sharper now. Her race will be decided at the jump. Both girls are all okay for Friday,” added Fahey.

Opawa Brad Albie Punter Opawa Racer

The three Dave and Jean Fahey conditioned NZ Breeders’ Stakes finalists (from left): Opawa Brad; Albie Punter; Opawa Racer

Karen Walsh is travelling down from the northern region with her pair of finalists Thrilling Flo ($4.20) and Thrilling Surge ($7). She has also tasted previous NZ Breeders’ Stakes success having trained the winner of it on three previous occasions. Incidentally it was a remarkable training performance in the 2006 edition where her kennel provided five runners which saw a ‘Thrilling’ finish unfold with her team occupying the first five placings.

Thrilling Surge punched his way through a hole on the rail to secure the race lead when racing around the first turn in his heat. He maintained a strong gallop throughout to nail his heat win in 30.15s. There is no denying his talent, but the huge concern for him on Friday will be the pink racing vest that this out and out railer is required to wear.

“Thrilling Surge has drawn completely the wrong side of the track. He won’t do anything until he gets the rail. I guess it will be best for him if he misses the jump so he can head down straight away. My other concern is that it is unlikely he will go around another dog – he will sit on the rail and take any gap that’s presented to him. He will be racing for luck. Yes, he has come through his heat perfectly,” advised Walsh.

It was a mishap that saw kennelmate Thrilling Flo missing out on her target Plasterboard Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar assignment. This series is a handy backup option for her. She overcame a degree of jostling going into the first turn in her heat which saw her chasing home Spare Some Time, two lengths astern of him.

“I expect Thrilling Flo to be improved following her heat. She is a winning chance providing she gets around the first turn okay. She isn’t the quickest in the first few strides and she doesn’t really like being crowded. I’ll be happy to see her in clear racing air as her strength will then come into it. I would have been rapt if their draws had been the other way around, but you have to deal with what you have been given. She has been bouncing around okay since Friday,” she said.

Thrilling Surge Thrilling Flo Thrilling Ransom

The two Karen Walsh mentored NZ Breeders’ Stakes finalists: Thrilling Surge (left) and Thrilling Flo and Karen Walsh with her 2011 NZ Breeders’ Stakes winner Thrilling Ransom

It is understandable if local trainer Brian Goldsack feels like the odd man out in this event, being the only conditioner with a greyhound outside of the big three trainers. Watch My Back ($26) has been a sound achiever during the season. We saw that at the commencement of his career when he stylishly won the nation’s richest Maiden race, the Cambridge hosted $6,000 Te Awamutu Self Storage 457m feature. Since then he has gone onto attain C4 status. He ran fourth in his heat here, however it was his bold prior 520m length second in a C4/5 field here that underlines his potential.

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 15/06/2017 1:45:36 PM

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