Trainer's trio make Paws final

AN exciting clash looms in the Village Green Hotel Blue Paws Final over 480 metres at the Grafton Greyhound Raceway this afternoon.

Coutts Crossing trainer Rick Godwin will be strongly represented in the final, with all three of his Closing Argument-Rich Energy youngsters making their way through to the decider courtesy of a win and two second placings in the three heats held last week.

Most impressive of these and undoubtedly Rick’s best chance in the final is Rich Character, who scored a professional two-length victory over Money Enforcer in the fastest heat time of 23.16 seconds. Rich Character was not the best into stride and took some time to reach the lead but the way in which he handled himself to navigate a bunching field just prior to reaching the top turn was quite impressive.

He showed a touch of class to force his way through before railing strongly to score nicely and he should be well suited from box two in the final.

Rick is also represented by Rich Accent in box six and Rich Debate out in box eight. While each has their share of ability they will need a touch of luck to find a prominent position from these boxes.

The greyhounds to beat in the final will be the Jim Madigan-trained Shalana Magic in box one and the Tracey Lindsay-trained Okeechobee from box five.

Each was impressive in their heat victories but after drawing box one for the final, Shalana Magic narrowly gets the nod as the top selection.

Shalana Magic exited box one when recording a 23.27 heat win at her first race start for three months and one could expect natural improvement given she has recorded a very quick 23.03 prior to being spelled. From box one again she has the necessary speed and box manners to be prominent all the way.

Okeechobee had the punters smiling last week when heavily backed from $5 into $1.80 after rumours of some very quick trial times circulated the betting ring. Despite suffering a heavy fall at The Meadows in Melbourne back in December, Okeechobee showed no ill affects when he displayed some very keen chasing instincts when jumping from box six in recording 23.23 seconds.

He did, however, appear to be desperate for an inside box draw as he angled for a rails run so box five today may not suit but if he can jump cleanly he does possess quite a turn of toe.

Selections: Shalana Magic 1, Rich Character 2, Okeechobee 3.

Outside of the final good things abound for the punters, with three ‘morals’ lining up throughout the day.

First cab off the rank is the Gary Smith trained Orara Jack who did the right thing by us when saluting as the best bet of the day last week.

Orara Jack faces a better field this week but is boxed to receive clear galloping room early and if that occurs he has the pace to lead.

He is racing very consistently with his past three starts here resulting in victories in 23.04, 22.98 and 23.00 seconds, and any of those times will take out this race.

Stiff opposition will come from Reg Gardoll’s Tommy Cash from box two who can run amazing times when in the clear and the Barry Walters-trained I’m The Man who loves box one and does possess good box speed.

From there we wait until the Mackelly and Co Best 5 over 480 metres where Kulu Flame looks very hard to beat from box two.

Trained at Bentley, just outside Casino, by John Clarson, Kulu Flame is racing very well and at her last start here at Grafton was only just run down in the last stride in 27.39 seconds by the highly talented Orara Flash.

A repeat of that time and with no Orara Flash in this race, Kulu Flame should be able to lead from start to finish from the likes of Captain Bravo who will be running home strongly.

Then we go all up in the Fuller Bus Services 4th/5th grade over 407 metres on the Sandy Robertson-trained Tranquil Black.

Tranquil Black is another sprinter racing in fine form with recent wins here at Grafton in 23.04 seconds and Lismore in 24.26 seconds (420 metres) highlighting his ability.

He is a reliable beginner with good early speed and gets the nod in the final event.

The Grafton Greyhound Racing Club will then be in recess until February 27.

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