Inter Region North Island Challenge Stakes Contest

There’s more than just Group 2 racing glory attached to Monday’s running of the $28,000 Total Bodyshop Supplies North Island Challenge Stakes final for at least a couple of the contenders. The 457m field is a real cracking line up of greyhounds following last Monday’s set of four 457m heats with four finalists representing the lower North Island, while there are four runners who will represent the upper North Island.


Pictured: North Island Challenge Stakes heat winner Bigtime Levi with his handler Shane Kendall (pic Sue, Palmerston North GRC)


The chasing action during Friday’s big ticket Christchurch hosted Addington meeting was absolutely sublime. The stylish pair of Group race winners Nature’s Gent and Dyna Weslyn really turned up the heat on the potential contenders for the 2018/19 New Zealand Greyhound of the Year title, with both of them being multiple Group race winners for the current season.


There are two runners in Monday’s final with Trojan Hoarse and Thrilling Talk having also won multiple Group race titles that are safely tucked away in their respective kennels for the season. Will one of those contenders prevail in this 457m event?


The four local finalists are all mentored in the Palmerston North based Lisa Cole kennels. Ironically the quartet will carry the odd numbered racing vests. It was last year’s North Island Challenge Stakes winner Bigtime Levi who was a Cole prepared heat winner. He settled handy to the early pace from where he used his known strength at the business end of his heat to secure his 26.23s heat win. He will hop away from the one trap on Monday, which isn’t really a trap that suits his known middle of the track racing style, but in saying that he has proven to be competitive when he’s sighted wearing the red.


Trojan Hoarse recently added the NZ Breeders’ Stakes title to his earlier NZ Derby victory at the elite level. In his heat he gamely stuck to his task where he finished up a three quarter length second to Thrilling Amigo in what was a real closely contested finish. He then fronted up at the Hatrick Raceway on Friday afternoon where he contested a heat for the $12,000 NZRS Advanced series. He showed up during the early rush, however he became jammed up in traffic when rounding the first turn to ultimately finish fifth. He must use the known early pace he owns when he exits from trap three here.


Bigtime Archie will occupy the five trap from where he has been competitive from before. He was bold in his heat, where after settling just in behind the pace setters, he extended during the run home to wind up three lengths behind the freewheeling Robson. He also went onto to contest a Friday NZRS Advanced 520m heat where he got caught up in some jostling when racing around the first turn. He ran on late for his fourth placing.


Bigtime Rod was successful in his Friday NZRS Advanced 520m heat assignment when he chased after the pacemaker then proved too strong during the run home when he claimed his heat win in 30.56s by a 2.5 length margin. The recent Group 1 520m runner up kicked on solidly in his heat for his length second to Thrilling Talk, who was the greyhound who led him home when he ran his recent Group 1 520m second. He will be loaded away into trap seven on Monday.




The other three Lisa Cole trained North Island Challenge Stakes finalists are (from left): Trojan Hoarse; Bigtime Archie; Bigtime Rod


Now lining up from the even corner on Monday are the four northern region trained finalists. Thrilling Talk assumed control of his heat rivals on the big, sweeping Manawatu bend from where he kicked on stoutly to nail his heat win in a rather tidy 25.73s for his conditioner Karen Walsh. This noted railing dual group race winner is expected to competitive again after he jumps away from the four trap in this decider.     


His kennelmate Thrilling Amigo was huge, no make that massive, in the manner that he powerfully won his heat in 26.13s. He found himself caught up in some early traffic after jumping from trap two in his heat. He moved out wide when rounding the bend, balanced up when back in the field, then he unleashed a potent finish that carried him to his heat win. Being allocated trap eight has certainly enhanced the claims held by this recent Cambridge 457m track record breaking (24.96s) greyhound in this event.


It was at the end of March when Cambridge trainer Peter Ferguson produced his charge Robson to stylishly win the $28,000 City Of Palmerston North Golden Chase match race title. He returned to the same venue last Monday to deliver his bold 25.99s heat win for this event. In doing so he maintained the tidy 457m race record he is compiling at this venue. There is a possible area of concern for him in this final as he is required to exit from trap six. He has missed in all three of the previous races where he has carried the green racing vest in.


He will also be joined by a kennelmate in the final. Thrilling Billy settled back in the midfield pack during the initial rush for heat possies after he hopped away from trap one. From there he steadily improved his field position which then saw him finishing solidly to book his final field place when he closed to within 1.25 lengths of Bigtime Levi. He will be loaded away into the two trap on Monday.




The four northern trained North Island Challenge Stakes finalists (from left): Thrilling Talk; Thrilling Amigo; Robson (pics Sue, Palmerston North GRC), plus Thrilling Billy


Both of the reserves are provided from the Cole kennels. Bigtime Brody attended the early pace in his heat from where this recent Group 1 520m runner up finished three lengths behind Thrilling Talk which saw finishing up in the first possie on the reserves bench.


The second reserve Bigtime Cooper owns volumes of early pace as was seen in his heat when he undertook the pace making duties. He was gathered in late by the charging Thrilling Amigo, while he was cut out of second by a head by his kennelmate Trojan Hoarse.    


By Peter Fenemor



Posted on 29/06/2019 3:40:41 PM

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