Easter Maiden Final to unleash promising youngsters
THIS evening's Grafton Greyhound race meeting will be highlighted by the running of the time-honoured Pullen's Produce Easter Maiden Final (407m) with some exciting young prospects facing the starter.
This event has long been a popular one with local and interstate trainers with the winner of the race typically going on to enjoy a stellar career and the year 2016 version should be no exception.
The Toni Northfield- trained Lil Lola Breeze will enter the final as the fastest heat winner following her dominant 23.02 second win last week.
Starting a well-supported $2.60 favourite, Lil Lola Breeze showed excellent box manners to explode straight to the front before racing away to an easy 4.5 length victory over Hot Fusion.
Lil Lola Breeze clocked a nice 8.43sec first section and she was never seriously challenged at any stage of her heat.
Prior to her heat win Lil Lola Breeze had displayed her versatility with smart performance trial wins at Lismore and Casino before adapting to the bigger Grafton circuit with ease.
Following the run on the track under race conditions she is likely to improve and could well break the 23sec barrier this evening with a clear run.
This is does not mean that the final is a one-act affair as in reality it is anything but that.
Despite her good early speed, Lil Lola Breeze is likely to be put to the test by the Des Winters-trained Currumbin Valley which was very impressive in his heat despite being narrowly beaten.
In greyhound racing there is no greater commodity than early speed and Currumbin Valley has that in spades.
Beginning perfectly from box 6 in his heat Currumbin Valley showed a clean pair of heels in the run to the first turn, clocking a fast 8.38sec first section.
Although he weakened slightly right on the line Currumbin Valley still managed to record a more than creditable 23.15sec and this will have the son of Magic Sprite and Itza Girl Trick right in the thick of things tonight.
Put Your Thongs On was the greyhound that ran down Currumbin Valley in the home straight and while it is almost folly to count out the chances of an Allan Lang-trained runner, he is traditionally a moderate beginner and will need to race for luck.
On the balance of probabilities one could expect that he will be in the pack soon after they jump and in a quality race field he will need the breaks to go his way if he is to have a chance of beating the faster beginners.
While there are a number of other smart youngsters in the field who will go on to win plenty of races, this year's final should be a shootout between the speed runners Lil Lola Breeze and Currumbin Valley.
One of the better bets on the program looks to be the Mitch Northfield-trained Pretty Socks in the Highland Petfoods Stakes (407m).
Pretty Socks has been luckless in recent starts, not by the way of interference but rather luckless in that she has broken the 23sec barrier at each of last two outings but has found one better on each occasion.
Firstly it was the Allan Lang flier Kyogle Clodhoppa which she finished behind before last week being nabbed in the run to the line by Curriculum.
Pretty Socks clocked 22.96sec and 22.98sec respectively in those races and those times would normally win 99% of races held here at Grafton.
Although meeting a field tonight with good early speed, Pretty Socks also possesses plenty of early dash and if she can hold them out in the run to the first turn there are none in this race that can give her a start and a beating in those times.
From box 3 Pretty Socks looks to be a nice banker for the evening.
While both races will have been run and won by the time this article goes to press, special mention must go out to both Mitch Northfield and fellow Northern Rivers breeder Robert Cooke as each of these gentlemen had greyhounds engaged in two of the biggest races on the calendar over the weekend.
Northfield has Mitcharlie Mia engaged in the Golden Easter Egg Final at Wentworth Park on Saturday night which provided a cool $250,000 for the winner.
Cooke owns Major Jackpot which jumped as favourite in the $150,000 to the winner Launching Pad at Sandown Park in Melbourne on the same night.
This is a fantastic achievement which only goes to highlight the quality of the breeding of the greyhounds here on the Northern Rivers.