GROUP one winners Barooga Brett, Hasten Slowly and Deliver loom as the dogs to beat in their heats of the Ladbrokes Paws Of Thunder at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Barooga Brett, winner of last week's Silver Chief Classic at The Meadows, has box one in heat one, Deliver, who took out the Vic Peters Memorial Classic at Wentworth Park in November, has drawn eight in heat four, while Brisbane Cup victor Hasten Slowly will exit box four in heat three.
Barooga Brett is making his Wentworth Park debut but Deliver and Hasten Slowly, who has drawn the weakest of the seven heats, have had wide experience at Sydney headquarters.
Jamie Ennis, whose wife Brooke trains Barooga Brett, said: "If he jumps cleanly it will take a fast dog to cross him in the run to the first turn.
"Barooga Brett takes a step to the right as he leaves the boxes but he has been recording five seconds flat for the first split at The Meadows and Sandown and that is flying.
"He has got faster as he has got older and has improved four or five lengths over the past three months.''
Jason Thompson, whose wife Seona trains Deliver, said: "We we hoping for box seven or eight for our dog so drawing the extreme outside is perfect.''
Hasten Slowly, who defeated Cosmic Bonus in the Brisbane Cup at Albion Park on December 6, has drawn awkwardly in box four but Jeff Britton, whose partner Angela Langton trains the dog, is not too concerned.
"Hasten Slowly is the type of greyhound who makes his own luck,'' Britton said.
"He is extremely consistent, is going as well as ever and is feeling really good at the moment.''
Poke The Bear (pictured), Australia's best greyhound, returns to Wentworth Park in heat six of the Paws Of Thunder where he is drawn against his in-form kennelmate Azkaban.
"It is very disappointing to see them both in the same race, especially as only the winners and the fastest runner-up will advance to the final,'' Jason Thompson said.
The Jeff Britton-trained Mepunga Bella has drawn box eight in heat six but her trainer is not confident about her prospects.
"She needed an inside box to have any hope of beating dogs like Poke The Bear and company,'' Britton said.
Jeff Britton's brother Robert has Not Available in box three in heat four and Benali in heat five, where he will start from box four.
"Not Available's Wentworth Park form is very good but he has done a lot of travelling and racing lately and I'm not certain he is right at the top of his game,'' Robert Britton said.
"Benali has only just returned from an injury spell but if he can be 'on the pace' early he has a chance.''
Robert Britton trained last year's Summer Distance Plate winner Fanta Bale and he has Soda Flash and Barcali in box one in heats one and two of Saturday night's 720m event.
"Barcali is my better chance although he will need to do every thing right because he is up against NSW's best stayer Poco Dorado,'' Britton said.
"Soda Flash can probably be the early leader from his rails draw but I'm not sure how he will handle a strange track because he has not seen Wentworth Park.''
Heat two is the stronger with Poco Dorado chasing her 11th win in 11 Wentworth Park 720m outings and Queensland's best stayer Double Gee nicely positioned in box two.
Double Gee has failed in two Wentworth Park races from boxes seven and eight but is "desperate'' for an inside box and flashed home when third over an unsuitable 600m at Albion Park last time out.
Best Bet: Barooga Brett (race 3)
Best Value: Deliver (race 4)
Race 5 - 4, 2
Race 6 - 5, 2, 1
Race 7 - 5, 7, 4
Race 8 - 7, 3, 6
$20 for 37.03%