Huge night of racing at Cambridge Thursday

Pictured: Opawa Louise is a winning hope in the Group 2 Teressa McDonald Memorial Cup on Thursday night.

In addition to the Group 1 New Zealand Derby, a superb night of racing will take place at Cambridge on Thursday night, featuring some of the country’s top greyhounds.

$20,000 Teressa McDonald Memorial Cup

Wow, what a sensational pair of 747m heats the stayers turned on for this Group 2 event, as evidenced by the nose and head winning margins from both heats!

Opawa Louise ($6 and $2.50 – TAB NZ Final Field) came with a withering finish for Dan Roberts to nail the Arch Lawrence-prepared Orson Blonde by the barest of margins after 43.21 seconds of hard-out chasing.

“She’s always relying on luck when coming from the back. She stalked them from where she used her strength to out-finish them. She will finish stronger than the others. I let out half of a roar in the straight, when after thinking she’ll run second, she got up to win it. I couldn’t believe what she did.

“She’s a machine with a remarkably quick recovery rate. Like after she was swabbed, she towed me out when a Derby heat was racing. She’s simply a dour stayer who will keep on running,” confirmed Roberts. 

Roberts also qualified the in-form Opawa Corban ($4 and $1.75) who pressed on stoutly for his 2.7 length heat fourth behind Opawa Gina.

“Yes, I’m really happy with his draw (1). I was very happy with his heat run, being strong to the line. He’s getting better with more racing experience which now sees him staying on the rail. He has come through his heat great,” said Roberts. 

Dave and Jean Fahey will be returning north with Opawa Gina ($4.50 and $1.90) who extended strongly during the run home to secure her heat win in 43.02.

“She’s going really good races lately. I was especially pleased with the way she finished in her heat. And I consider her stronger now than what she used to be. I would like to see her on the early pace. She’s come through her heat good,” confirmed Dave Fahey.

Know Speed ($4.50 and $1.90) set up the pace in his heat for Garry Cleeve and it took the strong finishing Opawa Gina to dive-bomb him when he was caught by a head margin.

“It is really good to see good, competitive racing without a stayer showing dominance. He can get away quickly, which I believe is because of his experience racing against open class middle distance greyhounds, therefore his eight-draw shouldn’t bother him,” explained Cleeve.

Cleeve will also be bringing Know Hurry ($11 and $3.50) back up north after he made up late ground for his seven-length fourth placing behind Opawa Louise.

“I thought she got lost a bit when rounding the first turn. She found her way home strongly and I was rapt with her run. She has a favourable draw (2) and she certainly can give some cheek. Both of them are ready for the return race,” said Cleeve.

The claims held by any Arch Lawrence-trained stayer on his local track can never be lightly dismissed. Orson Blonde ($10 and $3.30) is a daughter of Shandell, who Lawrence mentored to win the 2015 edition of this race.

“She steps up every time I ask her to do so. She has been going top races and I’m happy to be back racing again at Group race level. She needs clear racing air, and she will fight on strongly, especially if she gets the rail.

“I have been a little surprised on how she has stepped up lately, and hopefully the little girl can repeat what her mother, who was a once in a lifetime dog, did in this race,” stated Lawrence.

Trenzalore ($7.50 and $2.70) is returning to defend his title after he won the deferred 2023 final of this race for his northern conditioner Rob Roper. The noted railer continues to be frustrated by a series of wide draws and that carries on in this final, as he will be sighted wearing the black racing vest (again).     

“He’s as well as he’s ever been. He pulled up fantastic from heat. I’m disappointed (again) with his draw, however he will work it out when he looks for a hole when going down to the rail,” said Roper about the 2.5 length heat third placegetter to Opawa Gina.

Sean Codlin has his stayer Opawa Wine ($9 and $3) ticking over sweetly at the moment, and she has earnt a crack at black-type racing via her six-length heat third to Opawa Louise.

“Hopefully, she will pop out in front (from 4). She backs up pretty well and she has come through her heat good. She needs to be handy to the pace and she can be right in the finish if she does so,” advised Codlin. 


$20,000 Angus Wright Memorial Sprint

Big Time Razor was too good in his heat of the Angus Wright Memorial Sprint.

Three compelling 375m heats were held for the straight-out speed merchants at Group 2 level, but it was the extraordinary effort put in by heat runner-up Levi Bale that stole the heat highlights.

Levi Bale ($3.60 and $1.65) copped a decent check during the early rush for positions, forcing the Craig Roberts-prepared sprinter to settle a clear last. He won this sprint in the delayed August running of this Group 2 dash and he indicated that he will be awfully to knock of his pedestal on this occasion, judging by the mammoth finish he produced for his heat 2.75 length second to Big Time Razor.

“Unbelievable, he qualified – he got knocked over early and how the hell he got up to finish second was truly amazing. I thought at the time ‘that’s it, we’re not going back!’

“He just needs some clear room over the first 50 or so meters. I’m not concerned about his draw (2), as he’s capable of barging through. He’s pulled up as good as gold,” commented Roberts about the current New Zealand Sprinter of the Year, who is on target to defend that title after also winning the Group 1 Galaxy Sprint earlier in the season.

Big Time Kenzie ($5 and $2) controlled the pace throughout for her conditioner Lisa Cole, sprinting clear to secure her 21.21 heat win.

“She can really fire out of the boxes. She’s very fast early and I expect further improvement from her, and she can beat her draw (5),” said Brendon Cole. 

Kennelmate Big Time Razor ($4.20 and $1.80) prevailed in the second heat, completing his dash in 21.26.

“The big worry is that he wants to go straight to the rail (from trap-3) and with Levi Bale drawn inside him, it could turn out messy for him early on. He is a very quick dog,” advised Cole.

It was a heat clean sweep for the Cole kennels after presenting Eytukan ($4.80 and $2) to deliver the quickest 21.03 heat time.

“He loves this track and he tends to find an extra leg at Cambridge. He can fire out of the traps and he can handle his draw (6). All three of our sprinters are set to go,” confirmed Cole.

The sharp northern Jared Udy and Denise Cottamtrained Boston Boom ($8.50 and $2.80) will be returning following his bold 3.25 length second to Eytukan. Overlook his Sunday Manukau 318m sprint, where he suffered from an impeded racing passage.

“He’s going to have to begin good from out there (7) – if he does, then he’ll be right up there. He’s really loving life at the moment,” confirmed his owner and co-trainer Denise Cottam.

Pick And Go ($5 and $2) will be returning for her Canterbury trainers Tony Hart and Dylan Voyce after she was sighted kicking on boldly for her 3.25 length heat third to Eytukan. She switches from trap-eight in her heat into trap-one for the decider.

“Her draw suits her perfectly and she’s definitely a big chance from the one. We are very happy with her and can’t wait for the final – she’s looking 100 percent,” enthused Hart.  

Hunter Lou ($26 and $5.50) will represent the local trainers Ross and Lynne Udy, after his bold 2.5 length heat second behind Big Time Kenzie. It has taken him 30 races to be allocated the eight-trap, from where he will race from in the final.

Ross Udy was fairly blunt when discussing his draw.

“I don’t like it. He has to do what he did in his heat and that’s to jump good.  He’s come through it good, and I guess as long as he stays out there, he should be okay.” 

Motion Fire ($21 and $5) kicked up along the rail to claim his heat second, 1.25 lengths behind Big Time Kenzie for local conditioners Wayne and Tracy Steele.

“It is really nice to get a dog that we bred into a Group race final, especially after we raced his mother (Ramblin’ On) and his grandmother (Indi Rhode) – that is really rewarding for us.

“Motion Fire has a big engine, although he has no brains. He needs early luck from that draw (4) and to be fair, a placing looks best for him. Hopefully, he will capitalise on any opportunities he receives. He pulled up good and he has worked good,” advised Corey Steele. 


$20,000 Lois Henley Memorial Trophy

Goldstar Brooks is one of three Riley Evans-trained runners in the Lois Henley Memorial Trophy.

Lois Henley, a former long-serving national and local regional administrator, is remembered by the annual Group 2 race held in her memory. 

Canterbury trainer Riley Evans will be represented by three runners in this final.

“The draw for all three of our finalists isn’t ideal (outside three-traps) – they have drawn upside down,” expressed Evans.

Goldstar Brooks ($14 and $4) displayed her strength when leading throughout for her 25.72 heat win.

“Goldstar Brooks can lead them again; she just has to cross those inside her from trap-seven. She’s the best of our chances owing to her early speed,” confirmed Evans.

It was a heat double for Evans, after father Steve placed Goldstar Mila ($12 and $3.80) into the 457m traps, resulting in her 25.82 heat win. “She’s likely to find it tough from trap-six. I thought she was brave last week, and she will be looking for some early racing luck here,” said Evans.

Goldstar Rita ($31 and $6) was sighted finishing stoutly in her heat for her four-length heat fourth to her sister Goldstar Brooks.

“She is our strongest runner. Hopefully, she gets some clear racing room from out in eight, and then she brings it home strongly.

“All three of them returned home good and are perky after working nicely this morning (Monday),” advised Evans, who incidentally enjoyed a successful season with his other passion, racing stock cars. “Yes, it was a good season and I’m looking forward to next season with a new car.”

Lisa Cole will return with Inner Space ($4 and $1.75) after her game 1.25 length heat second behind Goldstar Mila. “She went good in her heat, considering she slipped when leaving the traps. She is very strong and she’s a definite chance if given a clear run,” said Cole.

The Cole kennel has scratched Icy Touch, and she is replaced in the field by kennelmate Big Time Tactics ($7 and $2.50), who suffered from interference in the heat won by Goldstar Brooks.

“She was running a solid second when she got dragged down in her heat. She is very capable and don’t be surprised if she’s right up there all the way,” commented Cole.

The recent Group 1 New Zealand Sires Produce Stakes winner Opawa Schofer ($4 and $1.75) is seeking more black-type, after Dave and Jean Fahey advanced her to the final thanks to her 1.3 length third placing to Goldstar Mila.

“I was really pleased with her heat race, as I wasn’t sure if she would handle the one-turn track. I expect her to take further improvement from that race and her draw (2) works out okay for her,” said Dave Fahey. 

Diamond Neena ($3.80 and $1.70) secures the draw advantage via the one-trap for her conditioner Malcolm Grant. She was bold in her track debut outing when she was sighted pressing on soundly for her three-quarter length heat second behind Goldstar Brooks. It’s worthy of noting that she won her prior C5 457m race on the similarly shaped Ascot Park track in the meeting best 26.05 clock from the ace-trap.

Kennel representative Golly Melbown stayed up in the north with the team, racing some of them at Manukau on Sunday and she kindly updates us.

“We are absolutely stoked to get Neena through to the final – she’s my girl. Her draw helps, it’s absolutely perfect for her as she normally races on the pace. We are very excited and she’s ready to go on Thursday.”

Opawa Sandy ($10 and $3.30) settled just behind the early pace, from where she kicked on stoutly when winding up 3.3 lengths astern Goldstar Mila in her heat. It is worth noting that her trainers Wayne and Tracy Steele had presented her to win her previous Cambridge 457m race in a meeting best 25.61 gallop.

The trainers’ son Corey updates us on her prospects.

“It will be very emotional for all of us, should Opawa Sandy win this race. Aunty Lois played a big part in our involvement within greyhound racing. She mentored me and always supported Dad when he was starting out.

“We aimed Opawa Sandy for this race and I believe she’s the sort of bitch who can win it. To make the final is super, she’s a really nice bitch and hopefully it’s full steam ahead with her. She is all set to go.”


Strong Support Card

There is absolute quality lining up in the eight support races, including the $10,000 South Waikato Cup (Race 6) over 457m. The event has attracted the recent Auckland Cup winner and last season’s New Zealand Derby winner Blazin’ Master for Lisa Cole. He will clash with his in-form kennelmate, Federal Aussie.

“Blazin’ Master got completely banged around on Friday (520m). He’s drawn out wide (7), which he can handle, providing he breaks quickly.

“Federal Aussie is always a chance, although his draw (8) isn’t ideal for him, as he’s a better prospect when he’s drawn inside,” suggested Brendon Cole.

Calculated Risk sure is an iron dog, and he makes his Cambridge track debut after his bold C5 30.44 Addington 520m win last week.

“He just gives his all, all the time. He’s an exciting greyhound, who keeps you on your toes. Fingers crossed he can reach the $100,000 stakes barrier,” said the conditioner of the dual Group 2 winner Ashely Bradshaw, with her charge arriving north with $97,129 in stake earnings.

Opawa Superstar will line up in the $9,400 Jack Hannon Memorial (Race 9) as the winner of $342,886 in stakes from trap-two.

“Hopefully he can make a good beginning and races handy to the pace from his good draw. He is hanging together good,” suggested Dave Fahey.

Sweet Potential would be the best credentialed current northern-trained middle-distance performer, and Sean Codlin will be looking to his charge to make effective use of her ace-trap draw.

“I was disappointed with her effort last Thursday. She has come through that race all good and I’m hoping she comes off the lids quickly and takes up a possie along the rail,” advised Codlin.


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 13 March 2024

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