Competitive NZ St Leger Final Looming

There was just over a length separating last Thursday’s three Active Electrical Christchurch New Zealand St Leger 520m heat winners. That illustrates what an even, competitive looking field who will line up for this Thursdays $30,000 decider at Group 1 level at the Addington Raceway.

Pictured: Opawa Toddy seen here delivering the quickest NZ S Leger heat time (pic Dave Robbie)

 

It was the Dave and Jean prepared Opawa Toddy ($3.80 & $1.45 – TAB Final Field) who returned the quickest of those heat times when last month’s Waikato Classic winner stopped the clock in 30.21s. He hopped away smartly from the six trap to control the pace throughout and this promising chaser will have to apply those same tactics from that trap in the final.

 

“He hasn’t drawn the best again. We were happy with heat run – hopefully he can get a clean run into the first turn. He’s come through his heat in good shape,” confirmed Dave Fahey.

 

His kennelmate Go Vegas ($5 & $1.85) also dictated terms to his rivals when he completed his heat assignment in 30.29s. He has developed into a very competitive Addington 520m chaser as seen by the tidy record he has compiled at the Christchurch headquarters track. He will be sighted racing in the blue racing vest on Thursday.

 

“We expect improvement from him in the final as he had missed some work going into his heat. He has enough early pace to get handy going into the first turn and he should stay in contention if he does so. He’s all set to go in the final,” advised Fahey.

 

Punters A Hero ($13 & $3.50) is the third Fahey trained finalist and he booked his final field position when he gamely chased home Xabil Bale 3.75 lengths astern of her in his heat. It was a top effort by him to qualify considering he is currently a C2 graded chaser. His claims here got a tad tougher when he was allocated the five trap to race from here.

 

“He surprised us a bit by qualifying, but in saying that he’s in the field. He’s going to be relying on some early luck from that draw. He pulled up okay from his heat,” said Fahey, who provides the second reserve with Opawa Deal ($4.80 & $1.80) who overcame some back straight traffic to finish a 6.5 length heat fourth behind Xabil Bale.

 

Punter A Hero is raced by the Little Brown Jug Syndicate & Opawa Racing who also race Punters Bolt ($26 & $4.50) who qualified for this final via his sound 4.25 length heat second to Go Vegas for his conditioner Robin Wales. Drawing out in trap eight isn’t exactly where he wants to be as his trainer confirms, “He’s a strong railer, so no he isn’t very well placed out there. He has come through his heat as good as gold. The boys are really happy they are in the race.”

 

The “boys” are the members of the Little Brown Jug Syndicate who race both of the Punters greyhounds in conjunction with Opawa Racing in this event. They also raced their mum Albie Punter who was a handy chaser prior to heading into the breeding kennels. Wales also advised the launching of Opawa Racing’s greyhound auction website which has successfully auctioned their first greyhound – check it out on - greyhoundauctions.co.nz

 

  

Go Vegas is seen here winning his NZ St Leger heat and with his owners Opawa Racing’s Robin Wales and Graham Campbell and handler Katie Wylie; Punters Bolt is a finalist who is prepared by Robin Wales – pics Dave Robbie 

 

The Craig Roberts kennels will be represented by two finalists with the litter mates being the only Australian bred greyhounds contesting this final. Xabil Bale ($3.40 & $1.38) hopped away smartly from the ace trap to dictate pace making terms to her rivals. She strode through her heat assignment in 30.23s and she is likely to seek out those same pace making tactics when she exits from trap seven for the first time in her career here. 

 

“She is racing super – she has early pace so hopefully she will lead them out. She has smart sectionals and I’m not sure if even Uthor Bale could run her down if she sets the pace. She pulled up great,” confirmed Roberts.

 

Her brother Uthor Bale ($3.80 & $1.45) will step away from the one trap in the decider. This bloke owns strength at the business end of his races. He stalked the pace setting Opawa Toddy in his heat, gradually closing the gap between them down to a half length margin at the judge. 

 

“I don’t mind Uthor being in the one trap. I thought he was going to run down Opawa Toddy, but he didn’t quite make it although he went a top race. He has gone some massive recent races. It’ll come down to the type of run he gets into and around the first turn. He’s strong enough to run them down. He’s all good to go on Thursday,” advised Roberts.

 

Roberts kennel star Dyna Dave received an invitation from the Melbourne based The Meadows club to be considered for final field selection for the looming Temlee Invitation carries a A$100,000 winning stake over 525m. “I declined the invitation (to be considered for field selection) as the race is too close (February 15) to the start of the Auckland Cup series. He may as well stay at home with that race carrying a $90,000 stake.

 

“Dave came through his Hatrick race (Kernow Construction Classic) great. He’ll go to Auckland and then perhaps I’ll look at some staying races for him before retiring him,” said Roberts about his perennial Group 1 place getter. He has been the runner up in five, plus he has a third placing in his eight races at the elite level ($263,510 in stakes).

 

Ozzie ($10 & $2.80) raced handy to the pace throughout and he boldly chased home Xabil Bale for his 4.25 length heat third to her. He is prepared by the nation’s current leading strike rate trainer Dan Lane who will slot away his charge into the four trap on Thursday.

 

“It was a good effort by him to qualify as he didn’t get things his own way in his heat. I’ll like to see him go forward early and be in the first three when going around the first bend. If he is, then yes, he will be a winning chance. He is improving with race experience and he came through his heat good,” said Lane.

 

The Steve and Bonnie Evans trained Goldstar Truman ($26 & $4.50) completes the drawn field, while they also provide the first reserve with Goldstar Yankee. Goldstar Truman delivered the race of his career in his heat considering he’s currently graded as a C1 chaser. He was sighted finishing strongly for his 4.3 length heat third to Go Vegas and he will load away into trap two.

 

“He must be handy to the pace with a lap of the track to tun. I guess he will be relying on some carnage and take advantage of any incident that might happen. He came home strong in his heat, but to be realistic a third or fourth placing looks best for him, which we’ll be happy with. He is promising and his future looks to be in staying races. He came through his heat real good,” Steve Evans said. Kennelmate Goldstar Yankee ($21 & $4) pressed on late for his eleven length heat third to Opawa Toddy.

 

 

The Craig Roberts prepared Xabil Bale is seen here delivering her NZ St Leger heat win; Ozzie and Goldstar Yankee are NZ St Leger finalists - pics supplied by Dave Robbie – drobbie91@gmail.com – 021 607 869 for all your South Island race photos

          

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 05 February 2020

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