Federal Infrared headlines feature night of racing at Hatrick Raceway

Federal Infrared is the favourite for the Group 1 Wanganui Cup on Friday night. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Premier racing returns to Hatrick Raceway this Friday evening, where a pair of Group race finals will be contested, along with a strong undercard.

Two 520m heats held last Friday decided the final field for the $30,000 Wanganui Cup, with the electric Lisa Cole-prepared Federal Infrared ($1.80 – TAB NZ Final Field) scorching through her heat assignment in 29.89.

Quite simply, if she breaks away quickly from the seven-trap, then the others appear to be chasing for the minor stakes.

“Her early pace is her greatest asset and yes, a fast start can see her repeating her heat win,” confirmed Brendon Cole about the winner of seven of her nine Hatrick 520m races.

The Cole team have qualified another three finalists, with the recent NZ Derby winner Blazin’ Master ($4) exiting from trap-eight after he was gunned down by a 1.5 length margin by the strong-finishing Know Expense.

“He is a genuine dog who will always give his best. His draw could be a bit tricky, although if he can track through Federal Infrared, then he can get some of it (stake),” advised Cole.

Space Tron ($8) actually returned the second quickest heat time, when winding up 1.25 length second to Federal Infrared.

“He has turned into a consistent dog, who is strong enough to make his presence felt in the final. I’m not overly concerned about his draw (4),” suggested Cole.

Brad Mayo ($26) is likely to hang out a tad after jumping away from the six-trap. He pressed on stoutly when finishing his 9.75 length heat third to Federal Infrared.

“His race will be determined on where he positions himself going into the first turn. He’s another strong runner who can capitalise if others inside him make mistakes,” stated Cole, who added, “All of our runners are set to go on Friday.”

Garry Cleeve made the long trip north from his Rangiora training base and he is returning with two contenders. Know Expense ($7.50) displayed the characteristic strength that the bulk of the Cleeve-trained greyhounds own, when he extended strongly during the run home to claim his 30.20 heat win.

He will race from the ace trap, with his conditioner telling us, “He is traditionally a bit of a scouter, although he did hold the rail in his prior Addington 520m race. I’d rather he has the one draw than others getting it. I will be looking for him to get handy early, then bring his run home strongly.”   

Kennelmate Know Speed ($15) put in some telling late strides to snatch his final field possie, when winding up an 11.5 length heat fourth behind Federal Infrared. He will be loaded away into the tricky five-trap.  

“I thought it was a good first-up run on the track after he got into first turn trouble. Hopefully, he gets a better run and he gets the gaps. He’s strong enough to feature, although he can’t afford to let the speedsters in the field to get away from him,” said Cleeve.

Travelling down from the northern region will be Rob Roper with his finalist Hunter Jill ($31) on board. She pressed on resolutely for her 12.75 length heat fourth to Know Expense.

“She’s up against it in that field; however, she did a cracking job just to qualify. She has early pace and she is strong,” said Roper about his trap-three drawn finalist.

Completing the drawn field is Opawa Warrior ($11), who is racing for the in-form Marcie Flipp kennels. He has drawn handily in trap-two. He handled his first Hatrick 520m task with aplomb, when he was sighted kicking on solidly for his 6.25 heat third to Know Expense. He is a likely improver, and his place claims cannot be lightly dismissed.


Group 2 Wanganui Stayers


Opawa Rat is looking for another Group 2 victory on Friday night.

Te Awamutu trainer Corey Steele will head south on Friday filled with optimism that his charge Opawa Rat can secure his second Group 2 victory within nine weeks in the $20,000 Wanganui Stayers final.

The recent NZ Sires Produce Stakes winner (527m) showed his rivals a clean set of hind paws when scampering to his easy 45.09 755m heat win.

It has been a remarkable transition into the staying ranks, as Opawa Rat ($1.65 – TAB Final Field) only made his staying debut in his prior race when winning at Cambridge over 650m. 

“Rat puts in 100 percent and I’m really rapt with his heat run. It was a less than ideal preparation for a 755m race, but his run home time in his previous 650m race showed all the right indications.

“The six-trap plays out alright for him, and hopefully he gets a nice track into the race. He worked super this morning (Tuesday) – he wouldn’t have blown a candle out,” advised Steele.

The powerful Lisa Cole kennels will be represented by two runners, and they have drawn the inside two traps.

Wearing the red vest will be the other heat winner Space Boy ($4.50), who completed his heat assignment in 45.55. He is the current Group 1 Auckland Cup titleholder, and he has also made a successful step up into the staying ranks.

“He has adapted to the staying distances really well. His draw is perfect for him, and I expect him to use his strength to make his presence felt,” advised Brendon Cole.

Kennelmate Big Time Brynley ($8.50) was bold when she chased home Opawa Rat 5.5 lengths astern of him.

“She has the pace to use her draw and she can be in the race for a long way by doing so,” said Cole, while adding, “Both of our stayers are ready for Friday.”

Trenzalore ($11) is a northern Rob Roper-prepared stayer, who handled his track debut outing in style when finishing his 1.4 length heat third to Space Boy. He has displayed railing tendencies, therefore trap-seven isn’t exactly where he wants to hop away from. However, in saying that, the former Australian stayer displays good track sense.

“He can’t draw a box – it is what it is. He will do his best. At least he’s had a look at the track, and I feel he will derive benefit from that outing.

“His fitness is right up there and if he can get handy early, then I reckon he can be right in it. He’s a sensible stayer, who works things out for himself,” explained Roper.   

Garry Cleeve will be represented by two stayers, with Know Hurry ($16) being loaded away into the eight-trap following her 10.5 heat third behind Opawa Rat.

“I thought she was she was a bit lost on the track when having her first look there. I believe she will derive benefit from that. She has enough pace to go forward early, so hopefully she can settle midfield and then run it out strongly,” suggested Cleeve.

Know Valour ($18) occupied the heat midfield for the greater part of the journey from where he pressed on for his 2.7 length fourth behind Space Boy. He has to contend with trap-five in the decider.

“I expect him to be a big improver from his heat, as he missed a planned lead-in race that he should have had at Addington. I felt he came home nicely in his heat. I consider that being slow early from the sprint traps can present a rails run going into the first turn, which would be ideal for him if that happens,” explained Cleeve.

We also took the opportunity to enquire how Cleeve’s champion stayer Know Keeper is enjoying his retirement.

“Kev isn’t enjoying retirement at all – he is missing going to the races. He is very well within himself, and he is still free galloping strongly.” 

The presence of a Dave and Jean Fahey contender in a Group race final commands respect. In this instance, they will be represented by Opawa Berry ($7), who gamely pushed Space Boy to a neck margin in her track debut heat appearance.

She is a litter sister to the NZ Australian Nationals Distance representative Opawa Louise, who incidentally won a Shepparton 650m race last week.  

“I expect her to improve a wee bit after her first race up there. Yes, we were happy with that effort and the trip won’t worry her. She’s come through the race in good order,” confirmed Dave Fahey.

The drawn field is completed by the Angela Turnwald-trained I’m Know Princess ($31), who stuck on gamely for her 12-length heat fourth to Space Boy. She is an experienced stayer, who was making her track debut race in her heat. She will be sighted wearing the white racing vest.


Pawnote: The star Kiwi-bred and owned greyhound Postman Pat commences his chase for glory in Friday evening’s semi-final round for the Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase at Sydney’s Wentworth Park.

The Jason Thompson-prepared son of Hooked On Scotch and Birdie Tee will jump from trap-8 in the sixth semi-final (Race 8, 11:32pm NZT) as the hot $1.75 (TAB NZ) fixed odds favourite.

Thompson travelled north from Victoria to give Postman Par a trial at Wentworth Park last weekend, where he cut out his 520m first look at the track in a tidy 29.60.

Eight semi-finals will be held with each winner progressing through to next Friday’s rich final.


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 05 October 2023

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