Huge New Zealand Cup night on Thursday with three Group Ones

Pictured: Federal Infrared is the short-priced favourite for New Zealand’s richest greyhound race. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Three compelling Group 1 races will be decided during the greyhound code’s night of stars meeting at Addington Raceway on Thursday evening.

The headline event is the $100,000 2023 Springston Hotel New Zealand Cup, with the eight canine athletes drawn to contest the event having come through 520m heats and semi-finals.

Who will prevail? Can the hotly favoured Federal Infrared go one better than her second placing in last year’s edition?

Can the perennial NZ Cup-winning trainers Dave and Jean Fahey mentor an outstanding 11th Cup training success?

Will it be an emotion-charged post-race podium?

Can the current NZ Sprinter of the Year nail a thoroughly deserved Group 1 win in the $30,000 2023 The HomeKill Guys Galaxy Sprint?

Who will come out on top in the $30,000 2023 Rose & Thistle Stayers Cup staying test over 732m?

The answers to these questions will be revealed over a two-hour period, while during the evening another nine races, full of talent, will be decided during the premier evening of chasing action.

Here’s a runner-by-runner look at the three Group 1 finals, with comments kindly provided by their respective trainers/handlers.


Race 8 – 7:47pm $100,000 2023 Springston Hotel New Zealand Cup (Group 1) – 520m

1 Silky Adobe – Matt Roberts PB 29.70 $10 & $2.40 (TAB Final Field)

This bloke produced a determined effort in his semi-final when he was sighted pressing on boldly for his 1.5 length second behind the low-flying Federal Infrared. This son of Dyna Dave and Silky Sock is currently in career-best form, as witnessed by his very sharp 29.70 personal best 520m, clocked three races ago. He does tend to ease away from the rail, therefore the early rush for positions is likely to be key for him.

“He has hit form at the right time, as seen by him reeling off some nice times. His confidence is right up there. It’s hard to know if I want to jump or miss it a bit. There’s a few ways that it can pan out from the traps. Ideally, I’d like to see him sitting in the first three or four going around the first turn. If he’s in clear air down the back, then the big boy can bring it home strongly. He’s pleased me going into the race.” – Matt Roberts.

2 Diamond Alex – Malcolm Grant PB 29.96 $15 & $3.20

There won’t be a dry-eye at Addington if this son of My Redeemer and Cawbourne Leaha secures a podium placing. That’s owing to the sad recent passing of the popular industry participant Lisa Grant. It is magnificent that Diamond Alex takes his place in this NZ Cup field following his strong finishing 29.96 semi victory. The Grants have previously featured in big feature race finals at Addington, as seen when Smash Palace finished third in the 520m $250,000 Gold Band Finance Platinum Paws in 2008, earning the couple a $33,750 stake, prompting them go out for a thoroughly deserved celebration.

“This race is all about keeping Lisa alive for longer. It’s another avenue for us – we were always a team working together. Alex’s draw could be a bit sticky for him, if only he is half a meter quicker out of the boxes. Alex is in super condition – he’s the best I’ve ever had him.

“The other day I found a Platinum Paws race book – it’s uncanny that race was 17 October 2008, Lisa passed on 17 October 2023. It has been a horrendous time; however, it has also been a very humbling period with the terrific support I’ve received from the greyhound community. Hopefully Lisa can guide Alex into clear racing room.” – Malcolm Grant.

3 Blazin’ Master – Lisa Cole PB30.10 $6.50 & $1.85

This fella has a big race temperament, as seen by his strong 25.67 457m win in the deferred 2023 New Zealand Derby at Cambridge. The Australian-bred son of Mepunga Blazer and Mepunga Molly is just as effective on the two-turn tracks and he has compiled a sound Addington 520m record, including his pair of seconds so far in this series. His 1.75 length semi second to Claws In Zorro came from the same trap he has in this decider.

“He good enough to make his presence felt in this race. He’s capable of coming out running. He has been consistent throughout the series down there and he is thriving in his racing. He will return down there ready to deliver a huge race.” – Brendon Cole.

4 Goldstar Rita – Riley Evans PB 30-02 $18 & $3.50

The Goldstar Racing team have done a tremendous job to qualify this consistent C4 graded chaser for the biggest assignment in her 61-race career. Included has been her sound pair of seconds from poor draws so far in this series The daughter of My Redeemer and Goldstar Coco was gallant in her semi when chasing home the free-wheeling Opawa Hugo when finishing 4.5 lengths astern of him. Her known strength says that she won’t flinch at the business end of this event.

“This is quite a big ask for her being C4 graded. She has to jump handy to the pace and hopefully she’s handy to the leaders when they reach the back mark from where she can bring it home strongly. We are rapt to have our first NZ Cup runner and she’s all set to go.” – Riley Evans.

5 Federal Infrared – Lisa Cole PB 29.73 $1.65 & $1.15

This girl is currently airborne, as she chases after her eighth consecutive win and the 40th win in her 58th raceday start. This daughter of Aussie Infrared and Flo Jo Focus is seeking revenge after she was gunned down late in last year’s edition of this final. It has been her electric first sectionals that carried her to victory in her 30.07 heat and quick 29.76 semi wins. Using that early asset can see this winner of $256,455 add the thick end of this stake to her earnings.

“Her explosive starts means she keeps on putting space on her rivals during the early stages. She has responded very well with her racing down there, as seen by her quick semi-final time. She has pulled up in great condition and I expect her to go one-better than last year.” – Brendon Cole.

6 Claws In Zorro – Matt Roberts PB 29.99 $10 & $2.40

This bloke oozed class right from the very first time that this son of Fernando Bale and Quistis Bale placed his paws onto a racetrack. 19 races and 11 wins later, he takes his place in the nation’s richest race after a competitive pair of 29.99 and 30.00 wins in his pair of races to date in this series. He is the youngest finalist in this line-up, and he can be expected to be sighted pushing forward during the early rush for positions here.

“We held high hopes for him after he broke in really good. He went through a wee flat patch, however his last six races have been right up there. Once he gets into stride, he has quick second phase acceleration. I’m happy he has drawn underneath Opawa Hugo and hopefully he gets a good track into the race behind Federal Infrared. He’s all set to go.” – Matt Roberts.

7 Opawa Hugo – Dave & Jean Fahey PB 29.75 $4 & $1.35

He has returned from a spell in emphatic style, overcoming a rocky heat passage which is reflected by his 30.40 heat time, then he produced his known pace when galloping powerfully to his 29.95 semi win. His conditioners will present this dual Group 520m race winner in immaculate order, just like they did for their previous 10 NZ Cup winners. There is a touch of emotion attached to this striking white son of Fernando Bale and Opawa Hop following the sad recent passing of part-owner Lavinia Herbert. 

“We were pleased with the improvement he showed in his semi and we feel there’s a bit more further improvement in him – he’s still on the way up. His draw could have been worse and if he beats the eight out, he’s a good top three chance.” – Dave Fahey.

8 Opawa Jackson – Jason Dunn PB 30.04 $21 & $3.80

He kicked on stoutly after he was claimed late during the run home by Diamond Alex by a 1.5 length margin after he pressed forward from this trap. That came after he led throughout for his 30.04 heat win. This son of Winsome Opawa and Opawa Lyn races for the Opawa Racing team, who are seeking their fifth NZ Cup winner and their third as breeders. He is presented with swooping claims from his wide draw.

“He’s in the final and the eight can work out alright for him, providing he doesn’t bomb the start like he did last week. There’s a lot of early pace drawn inside him, therefore I’m hoping he can get onto the hip of one of them going into the first turn. I’m happy as anything with him – he just needs early luck in what I consider is a very deep field.” – Jason Dunn.


9 Know Speed – Garry Cleeve PB 29.88 $18 & $3.50

This bloke has always displayed potential; however, his lack of early pace has made it a tad tough for him when reaching the higher grades. This son of Mepunga Blazer and Know Jinx was sighted doing his best work at the business end in his semi-final when he rushed home for his 4.75 length third to Federal Infrared. Watch out for him when his mentor steps him up in distance later in his career.

10 Know Expense – Garry Cleeve PB 30.15 $21& $3.80

He is a litter brother to Know Speed who kicked on solidly from a midfield position for his 2.75 length semi third behind Claws In Zorro. Again, his future racing activities would appear to be more suited to the longer race journeys, with his conditioner being an expert in preparing staying greyhounds.  


Race 6 – 6:44pm $30,000 2023 The HomeKill Guys Galaxy Sprint (Group 1) – 295m

Pictured: Race favourite Levi Bale is seeking a deserved Group 1 victory. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

1 Verdun Bale – Dan Roberts PB 17.08 $11 & $2.50 (TAB Final Field)

This bloke has developed into a consistent sprinter as seen by his tidy form, including his 17.14 heat win. The son of Roanokee and Dyna Patty certainly has the draw from where he can strongly make his presence felt from.

“He’s in a purple patch of current career best form, as seen by him finishing Top 4 in in his last 15 sprints – hopefully he can keep it up in this sprint. I feel he’s better suited to a second line draw, but in saying that, the map looks perfect for him. He’s peaking perfectly going into the final and he’s ready to go.” – Dan Roberts.  

2 Big Time Razor – Lisa Cole PB 17.24 $4.20 & $1.35

He has been solid throughout this series and receiving an improved draw suggests that this son of Bernardo and Bigtime Ottey can certainly feature at the business end of this decider. His inside trap form makes for compelling reading.

“He has drawn perfectly for the final and a combination of that, plus further expected improvement following his sprints down there, tells us that he will be right up there at the finish. He has had an ideal lead-in and he’s set to produce a strong sprint.” – Brendon Cole.

3 Opawa Fat – Jason Dunn PB 17.18 $14 & $3

This son of Fernando Bale and Dream Kay has produced a solid pair of 295m heat and semi-final sprints, including running a 17.18 heat PB. He gives every indication that there is further improvement in him, as he builds on his racing experience.  

“He has lived his life racing out wide under the PBD system. However, I feel he couldn’t win the race if he was out wide in this sprint. I’m hoping he’ll stay underneath the pace, from where he can make it rather interesting. I’m rapt with him going into the final.” – Jason Dunn.

4 Mint As – Jared Udy & Denise Cottam PB 17.05 $6.50 & $1.85

This son of Thrilling Boris and Tres Vite has produced a pair of professional 17.08 and 17.05 295m sprints in this series, which says that his northern trainers can add to their emphatic 2019 Galaxy win with Buddy Boom by winning this edition. He owns both early pace and strength at the business end of his sprints.

“We were stoked to get through the semi and especially with him improving his time. He travelled beautifully last week. I’m rapt with him and he was his normal self, being very bright over the weekend. We’re not changing his routine and we feel he can go close.” – Jared Udy. 

5 Mitcham Ben – Ashley Bradshaw PB 17.20 $11 & $2.50

This son of Blue Moon Rising and Flower Bomb has really come of age during this series, as evidenced by his pair of wins to date, while picking up invaluable experience along the way. He has been allocated a tricky draw to race from, but he overcame the same trap when delivering his 17.40 heat win.

“Honestly, we weren’t expecting him to get this far. We are over the moon with him winning his heat and semi. It is a really exciting time for the syndicate and family. He hasn’t drawn to get the best of runs, so hopefully he comes out in the clear. We are very happy with him and we consider it an honour to have him in the final.” – Ashley Bradshaw.

6 Goldstar Portia – Riley Evans PB 17.02 $18 & $3.50

She was gallant when leading the chase home behind the potent Levi Bale for her four-length semi-final second. Her draw doesn’t appear to be the best for this daughter of Fabregas and Kiacatoo Fever; however, she ran a 1.5 length heat second from this trap in her heat.

“She can jump, which she must do, as she’s better drawn in the inside traps. It’s made it hard for her as she likely to cross, but she is capable of jumping. She is fit and ready to go on Thursday.” – Riley Evans.

7 Levi Bale – Craig Roberts PB 16.89 $1.65 & $1.15

The current NZ Sprinter of the Year is unquestionably the slickest sprinter around at the moment. His 16.98 heat and 16.93 295m semi wins confirms that factor. The scenario is quite simple for this son Zambora Brockie and Kenju Bale – win the break, then he wins his first Group 1 title.

“He has to power up and then kick away from the others. If he does that, then yes, he can win it. The worry I have is the eight-dog cutting down onto him. He’s as good as gold and is as happy as Larry.” – Craig Roberts.

8 Goldstar Koda – Riley Evans PB 17.04 $16 & $3.30

He broke quickly from trap-seven in his heat to lead throughout, when scampering to his quick 17.04 semi win. The son of Fabregas and Kiacatoo Fever (second litter) is easily the youngest finalist in this field. His preference is to head towards the rails, but he can negate that by making another flyer at trap rise.

“Yes, it’s interesting with him drawing out in eight. His times and splits are right up there with the best of them. He needs to jump like he did last week, otherwise it might be tricky if he doesn’t. He done a fantastic job to make a Group 1 final in just his 14th race start.” – Riley Evans.


9 Rapido Scud – Lisa Cole NWT $14 & $3

He has compiled a consistent sprint record since he crossed the Tasman; however, he has been finding one better in a number of his sprints. This son of Zambora Brockie and Miss Bondi must ping away at trap rise if he gains a race start in this dash.

10 Brown Sugar – Garry Cleeve PB 17.13 $21 & $3.60

He was tenacious when he overcame traffic issues to press forward for his four-length semi-final third to Mint As. The son of Superior Panama and She’s Scandalous will have no option but to jump straight onto the pace if he’s sprinting here.


Race 10 – 8:44pm $30,000 2023 Rose & Thistle Stayers Cup (Group 1) – 732m


Pictured: Auckland Cup winner Space Boy is the favourite for the Group 1 Rose & Thistle Stayers Cup.

1 Rohan Bale – Craig Roberts NWT $9 & $2.30 (TAB Final Field)

He resumed from an extended spell to contest last week’s 645m event where he was held in the rear division throughout. He is expected to have derived benefit from that outing, but his lack of race fitness over this 732m trip is a concern for this son of Feral Frankie and Houston Bale.

“He’s back from a niggle and he may be a bit short of race fitness. He has been battling within himself. If I can’t win this race, then the next best option is for one of my sons to win it!” – Craig Roberts. 

2 Opawa Louise – Dan Roberts PB 43.71 $6 & $1.75

She returned from her winning Aussie campaign to produce her solid 1.75 length 645m second, when finishing boldly in behind Sweet Buddy. She brings proven staying form into this event, as seen by her 43.71 winning clock. This daughter of My Bro Fabio and Opawa Sophie holds each way claims in this event.

“I’m really happy with her preparation leading into the race. The only downside was that I was gutted there were no heats for this race, as she backs up great. That was a top 645m race and she’s peaking at the right time. I’m happy with her draw.” – Dan Roberts. 

3 Space Boy – Lisa Cole NWT $1.90 & $1.20

That was an eye-catching first attempt over 732m here two races ago when, after setting up the pace, he was run down late by a proven stayer. This son of SH Avatar and All About Space would have gained a fair amount of benefit from that outing and he is a stayer for the future.

“I thought that was a super effort by him in first 732m race down there. His Hatrick 520m race since then has primed him nicely for Thursday. He owns both pace and strength and he can race on the pace throughout. He’s ready to deliver.” – Brendon Cole.

4 Opawa Dallas – Scratched

5 Nighthawk Style – Matt Roberts NWT $21 & $4

This daughter of Cawbourne Brick and Nighthawk Rose is a tough grinding stayer. She is vastly experienced over this 732m distance, having had 14 races over the trip for four minor placings. She was last sighted at Ascot Park where she pressed on stoutly for her 630m second.

“She’s had a few setbacks, therefore her preparation for this hasn’t been ideal and she’s behind where I want her to be. Look, if she can get the rub of the green then she can be right up there. She has been luckless in her races, however if she can possie up handy, then she makes it interesting.” – Matt Roberts/

6 Sweet Buddy – Sam Lozell NWT $4.50 & $1.40

That was a stylish track debut performance from him last week when he found the line strongly to secure his 37.94 win over 645m. His 12.50 run home in that event was one of the strongest ever recorded over 645m at Addington. He is proven over the extreme race distances and a repeat of last Thursday’s effort can see this son of Winsome Opawa and Opawa Abbie Joy leading this field home.

“I was really stoked with his 645m win last week. I couldn’t believe his last sectional and that has to make him hard to beat on Thursday. Hopefully he can get himself handy enough to the pace from where he can finish over the top of them. I’m very happy with him going into Thursday.” – Sam Lozell.

7 Raja Bale – Craig Roberts NWT $21 & $4

He was on the fresh side when he was presented for his 645m race last week, when after he led early he faded a tad over the later stages. He has placed in five of his 12 732m assignments around this circuit. The son of David Bale and Dyna Chill would have benefited from his outing last week.

“I have altered his work schedule since last week, training him a wee bit different. He’s capable enough over the trip and I consider him fit enough for the distance. He can push forward from his draw.” – Craig Roberts.

8 Grande Vue Ace – Bob Pringle PB 43.65 $7.50 & $2.10

She has delivered three solid staying races since she resumed from a spell. First-up was her eye-catching third in a strong 732m field, then she cleared out for her effortless 38.18 645m win. This daughter of Dyna Dave and Replica Casino then finished a bold 2.75 645m third to Sweet Buddy after being roughed up. She is bringing in a 43.65 732m winning time into this event.

“I’m certainly delighted and excited to have a runner in a Group 1 race – my first ever. I’m very happy with the way she has been strongly racing. I know she will use her head and go down to the rail if she doesn’t get the jump. She was brave last week when it looked like she was put through an old-style washing machine agitator, then to put in the finish that she did was strong. I’m delighted with her going into the race.” – Bob Pringle.


9 Claws In Lulu – Jack Johnson NWT $31 & $5

This daughter of Fernando Bale and Quistis Bale is likely to jump from trap-4 and she’ll be giving away a fair slice of class here being a C0D graded stayer. She’s had two 645m staying races for a third and fourth. 


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 15 November 2023

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