Southland to Host Final Group Race for the Season

They’re chasing after Group race success on the World’s southernmost located greyhound track in Invercargill on the final day of the New Zealand 2017/18 racing season with the $15,825 Far South Challenge (race 7) being decided over 457m.

Pictured: Dirk Bale delivering the quickest Far South Challenge heat win (pic Dave Robbie)

Three heats were held two weeks ago to finalize the Group 2 field with the Craig Roberts prepared Dirk Bale clocking the fastest heat time with his smart 25.86s win. He assumed control of his heat rivals when rounding the big, sweeping turn and he scampered clear during the run home to claim his heat win by two lengths.

Dirk Bale then headed north to contest the $10,000 Amazing Chase Consolation at Hatrick last Friday, where after setting the initial pace, he peaked on his gallop during the run home when finishing up 2.75 length fourth to his litter brother and kennel mate Avenger Bale.

He will be jumping from trap six on Tuesday, which is the trap from where he delivered his pace making Auckland Cup win back in March. He is also seeking to protect his three race unbeaten 457m record on Ascot Park. “Dirk races really good down there as seen by his quick heat time. If he jumps into the lead and builds a buffer on the others, then he should be okay. He has come through Friday alright,” advised Roberts.

Roberts also qualified Umbridge Bale for this final when, after being in the rear group on the turn, he finished powerfully to nail his 1.75 length heat third to Egomaniacal. He has since contested a pair of Addington 520m events which yielded him with midfield finishing positions. “He’s a handy enough dog who is half a chance down there if he gets the right sort of early run. He runs on good and he’s a place chance if he does everything right,” stated Roberts.

Roberts provides the second reserve Platinum Marshall who is better known as a short course sprinter. He boldly chased after the pace setting John McInerney prepared Think Thank in his heat, however both chasers peaked on their respective gallops during the long grind up the straight with Platinum Marshall ultimately holding on for his 1.8 length fourth, also behind Egomaniacal.

Dave and Jean Fahey qualified half of the drawn field with their runners spearheaded by their 26.06s heat winner Egomaniacal. He displayed great track sense when he emerged from the midfield pack to extend strongly during the run home to nail his heat victory. He has been active since then when contesting the Kolorful Kanvas Garden City Classic series.

He was bold when he came out on top in a pace making dual in his 520m heat, taking that out in 30.30s. Onto last week’s final where he got tangled up in first turn traffic, which effectively ended his claims. “I feel if he can take an early sit on the rail then yes he can be right in it,” commented Dave Fahey who also advised he came through his last start assignment in good condition.

Dirk Bale Egomaniacal Egomaniacal

Craig Roberts’s travelling guru Bobby Blackburn with Dirk Bale; Egomaniacal delivering his Far South Challenge heat win and with handler Brendon Burke afterwards (pics Dave Robbie)

Too The Nail was stylish when he delivered his track debut two length heat second to Dirk Bale. He secured his placing from the ace trap – he’ll jump from that trap again on Tuesday. “I thought it was a good effort by him in his first race down there. I expect him to take some improvement from that race and his draw will help him. He’s all set to go,” advised Fahey.

Grid Lock narrowly, but bravely secured his place in the final line up when he wound up a 1.25 length heat third behind the local track star Southern Lights. He set the initial pace in that heat and he gamely stuck to his task for his heat placing.

His co-trainer says he must jump straight into the race lead from the two trap here. He has compiled a respectable record from that trap. “I want to see him in front early which he can do as he ran the quickest first sectional in the heats. If he does, then it’ll be a case of him hanging on. He has done alright since then,” said Fahey after his charge ran a solid Addington 295m second last Thursday.

The Fahey’s assault on this event is completed by Opawa Rooster, who finished stoutly for his 1.25 length heat second behind kennel mate Egomaniacal. He then went onto to endure a traffic impeded C4 Addington 520m outing last Thursday. The challenge he faces here is his starting habits, which generally sees him being tardily away.

“You never know what he’s going to do (start) and drawing out wide (trap seven) isn’t going to help. He’s all good, but I’ll have to say our inside three dogs are our best chances – I don’t know which one of them though,” Fahey said.

Southern Lights just keeps on delivering and the local chasing star sure did for his conditioner Roy Hamilton when he finished stoutly from out of the midfield traffic to claim his 34th career victory when posting his 26.18s heat win. He is proven from trap eight, although in saying that it is likely he’ll be looking for early racing luck from out there.

“It was a great achievement by him to win his heat. Every time I think about retiring him, he produces another top race. We are so proud of him. I guess 457m is slightly too short for him these days and that concerns with plenty of early speed inside him. He’s jumping out of his skin,” said Hamilton about his greyhound who has to be a warm favourite to win his third consecutive Southland Greyhound of the Year title.

Southern Lights Southern Lights

Southern Light’s won his 11th Ascot Park 457m race (15th track win) when he won his Far South Challenge heat and he’s pictured with Roy and Georgina Hamilton back at the podium - pics supplied by Dave Robbie – drobbie91@gmail.com – 021 607 869 for all your South Island race photos

Completing the drawn field is the Ashley Bradshaw prepared Nozzno Fear who returns to contest another Group race final. His heat effort contained merit when after settling handy to the early pace he kicked on solidly for his three quarter length second to Southern Lights. He has since gone on to run a pair of midfield finishes in 295m and 310m sprints. He has been provided with no favours being required to jump trap five.

“It’s nice that he’s made another Group race final. It’s the usual story for him in having to get out quickly as he isn’t as strong as others in the field. If he does so (jump onto the pace) then yes he’s capable of getting some of the stake. Everything has been going well for him and he has been working up good,” Bradshaw said.

The first reserve is provided by local conditioner Brett Connor. His charge Zipping Clyde only just missed making the box draw by a whisker following his 5.5 length heat third behind Dirk Bale. He has since contested a C4 310m Forbury Park where he struck some traffic problems.

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 30/07/2018 3:26:55 PM

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