Huge night of Group 1 semis looms at Addington on Wednesday

Who’s Jealous was the fastest New Zealand Cup heat winner last week. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Crunch time has arrived this Wednesday for the remaining 64 greyhounds who are contesting the $100,000 Springston Hotel New Zealand Cup and the $30,000 The HomeKill Guys Galaxy Sprint.

Four semi-finals for both Group 1 events now loom, with the first two finishers in each semi advancing to the rich finals the following Thursday.

Maintaining her $3.20 (TAB NZ futures) favoritism for outright victory in the NZ Cup is the Lisa Cole-prepared Federal Infrared, who used her exceptional early pace to deliver the 5.84 swiftest first sectional, setting up her overall 30.07 heat win  

Last year’s NZ Cup runner-up takes her place in the fourth semi from the four-trap. Kennel spokesman Brendon Cole informs us that further improvement can be expected, as she seeks to extend her current six-race winning streak.

“Ella stayed down there, owing to the short race turnaround, therefore we expect her to be more settled for the semis. As long as she uses her early pace, then we expect her to line up in the final.” 

Potentially offering the sternest opposition to her is Jovita ($16) following her strong 30.03 heat win for the perennial NZ Cup-winning trainers Dave and Jean Fahey. Her effort was strong, as seen by her producing the fastest 12.21 heat run home time.

“She went good, actually surprising me a bit. She is strong and hopefully she can secure a nice early sit behind Federal Infrared, then bring it home strongly,” suggested Dave Fahey about the current NZ Oaks title holder.

This semi really opens up after this pair of gifted girls, with sound post-race podium claims certainly possible for the other semi contenders.

The first semi sees the presence of the Matt Roberts-mentored exciting chasing prospect Claws In Zorro ($14), who led throughout to post his 29.99 heat win. The winner of 10 of his 18 race starts will be sighted hopping away from the seven-trap here.

Occupying the inside two-traps are a pair of Fahey-prepared contenders, both of whom chased home Claws In Zorro in their heat.

Nail It ($31) was game when chasing the free-wheeling heat winner for his 3.75 length second. “He’s got a good draw (2) and he has been racing pretty good since he came back to racing. Hopefully he leads early, and it will be interesting if he does,” advised Fahey.

Opawa Susan ($31) will be loaded away into the ace-trap after she finished another two-lengths behind her kennelmate. “She raced good and her draw is good for her. I would expect her to stay on the rail,” confirmed Fahey.

The Cole kennel will box away the current NZ Derby champion Blazin’ Master ($10) into the three-trap. He was solid when returning to Addington when he pressed on boldly for his 1.25 length heat second to the fastest heat winner Who’s Jealous.

“He muffed the start in his heat, therefore it was a brilliant effort by him to finish where he did. I feel he will be better for that race,” said Cole.

There’s a mouthwatering clash looming in the second semi. Included is the quickest heat winner Who’s Jealous ($14) who completed his assignment in a tidy 29.97. He is a member of the exciting Garry Cleeve-bred and trained young Mepunga Blazer and Classy Witch litter. It was a magnificent effort by him, especially after stepping up in class from his last start C1/2 30.08 520m win.

There was a huge amount of interest surrounding the resumption to racing by the NZ St Leger title holder Opawa Hugo ($3.50). This fella had to dig deep, and it was a combination of tenacity and track sense that carried this fresh-up chaser, after his 3.5 month spell, through to his 30.40 heat win for the Faheys.

Sure, his heat time was a margin behind the other heat winners, but it was the manner that he achieved the win that impressed. “It was a brave run by him, especially after being knocked around. He will have improved after that and on his day, he can jump,” confirmed Fahey.

Kennelmate Opawa Kyle ($61) was contained in the midfield pack during his heat. “I thought he was disappointing, and he needs plenty of luck from out there (8),” stated Fahey.

Adding the intrigue factor to this semi from the one-trap is the presence of the Craig Roberts-trained Pryor Bale ($31), who made his NZ debut in his heat, winding up a 6.75 length heat fourth to Federal Infrared.    

“He’s a lovely dog who has a motor. I was really happy with his heat run and I expect him to improve out of sight for Wednesday. His draw will help him,” reported Roberts about the son of the 2019 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar winner Dyna Weslyn who Roberts mentored.

Big Time Blazer will represent the Cole kennel in this semi, who after contesting the early pace, occupied a midfield position in the heat won by Opawa Hugo. “She has recently returned from a season and she’s still finding her strength over the later stages – that’s the worry for her at the moment,” said Cole.

This semi also features the presence of Goldstar Rita ($41), who pushed the pace-making Opawa Jackson to a half-head margin in her heat. She numbers amongst the five runners that the Riley Evans-prepared Goldstar team have in NZ Cup contention.

Opawa Jackson ($21) will take his place in the third semi for his conditioner Jason Dunn. He was bold when leading throughout to nail his 30.04 clock and hopping away from trap-eight suggests that he can again land straight onto the pace.  

The Faheys, who are seeking their 11th NZ Cup winner, will parade their NZ Breeders Stakes winner Mrs Chinn ($41) to the 520m traps for this semi. She owns early pace which is an asset that she must use from trap-five after her midfield heat finish.

“She’s an honest greyhound, who I expect to improve after her heat. She needs to lead out from that draw,” said Fahey about last year’s NZ Cup finalist.

The hardy chaser Talbingo Bale ($16) just keeps on turning up when the big races roll around for Roberts. He won’t flinch when the pressure goes on, as seen in his 1.25 length heat second to Jovita. Another competitive effort can be expected here.

“Hey, I’m really happy just to get him there. I’m rapt with his heat race and hopefully he can advance to the final,” said Roberts.

Space Tron ($41) is a strong Cole prepared chaser. He kicked on stoutly when claiming his 2.1 length heat third behind Opawa Jackson. “His was a massive effort after he copped a check. He is fast and strong enough to feature here,” suggested Cole.

Charley Horse ($10) is a litter brother to Who’s Jealous, who also has impressed in his short career to date for Cleve. He is likely to relish his improved two-trap draw in this semi after finishing up 3.3 lengths behind Opawa Jackson.  

Goldstar Gigi ($81) is on the other side of the experience coin for Evans, having start number 121 on Wednesday. She is likely to be sighted kicking on boldly from her kind one-trap draw.


2023 HomeKill Guys Galaxy Sprint semis


Levi Bale is the futures favourite with TAB NZ for the Galaxy Sprint. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Last Friday’s 11 Galaxy Sprint heats produced fast and furious 295m sprints, with the warm $4 TAB NZ futures favourite Levi Bale throwing down the gauntlet to his rivals when delivering his 16.98 heat win.

The Craig Roberts-mentored reigning NZ Sprinter of the Year takes his place in the third Galaxy semi (Race 9).

“It’s a matter if he gets out with them, from where his sheer power and acceleration can see him kicking away from them,” suggested Roberts who also added, “I’m not overly concerned about his draw (4).”

It could be an interesting first couple of strides, as the Lisa Cole-prepared Rapido Scud ($16), who tends to look for the rail, starts on the favourite’s immediate outside. He pressed on stoutly for his 2.25 length heat second to Mint As. “I’m worried about his draw, as he wants the rail,” commented Brendon Cole.

Goldstar Tookie ($14) races from trap-eight for Riley Evans after he extended stylishly to secure his 17.23 heat win. He will be looking to swoop on his rivals here.

Down at the other end of the traps will be Mad Paddy ($61) for northern trainers Jared Udy and Denise Cottam, who enjoyed a very successful afternoon of heat racing as they seek their second Galaxy Sprint training victory. He is a likely improver after his sound track debut 6.5-length heat second to Levi Bale.

Alpha Riley ($16) has been a consistent Jonathan McInerney trained 295m sprinter and he takes his place in this semi after he finished on from the midfield for his 2.25 length heat third to On Grid.

The first of the Galaxy semis (Race 7) sees the presence of the in-form Udy and Cottam-trained 17.08 heat winner Mint As ($7). He certainly owns the pace and strength to make his presence felt from the eight-trap in this dash.

Opawa Fat ($26) dictated the pace to his rivals when he skipped to his 17.18 heat win for his mentor Jason Dunn. He adds to a competitive looking field.

Ray Casey’s sprinters are currently in super form, including On Grid ($26) who asserted his authority over his rivals when scampering to his 17.09 heat win. He has been compiling a respectable record over the 295m dash, which he can build on here.

The Cole kennel has advanced their consistent sprinter Big Time Sonic ($12) to this semi, thanks to his 1.5 length second to race rival here On Grid. “He went really good, considering he had to check off paws on the turn. He has to catch the break in this sprint,” explained Cole.

Three heat winners line-up in the second semi, with the Dan Roberts-prepared Verdun Bale ($21) returning 17.14 for his dash. Tony Hart and Dylan Voyce apply the finishing touches to their 17.19s heat winner Old Malt ($16). Ritza Alert ($21) provides Casey with another contender after his bold pace-making 17.23 heat win.

Aston Lamont ($10) gamely sprinted after Verdun Bale when winding up 1.5 lengths behind him. “He must do everything right, as his draw (5) isn’t the best for him,” said Cole.

Pure Bedlam ($31) lines up for the Fahey kennels in this semi, after he kicked on boldly for his 4.25 length heat third behind Verdun Bale. “He’s likely to struggle from out there (8). He must make a flyer,” said Dave Fahey.

Udy and Cottam will be represented in all four semis, after Boston Boom ($41) stylishly handled his track debut sprint when he was caught by a head margin by Kaw Liga.

The final semi includes the trap-one drawn Kaw Liga ($16), who put in the telling late bounds to nail his 17.17 heat win for the Faheys.

“He went good fresh and we are pleased with his draw which he can use,” confirmed Dave Fahey.

The Cole-prepared Big Time Razor ($14) controlled the pace throughout when scampering to his 17.24 heat win. “He sprinted really good, and he’ll be a chance from out there (8), as he normally begins well,” suggested Cole.

Mitcham Ben ($12) set up the tempo when he throughout for his 17.40 heat win for Ashley Bradshaw. Al’s Loaded ($51) is another Udy and Cottam contender, who kicked on stoutly for his 2.5 length heat second to Big Time Razor.


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 07 November 2023

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