WHISKEY Riot, Poke The Bear and Black Opium all look certain to sail into the semi-finals after drawing ideally in Saturday night's heats of the Group 1 Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park.
The Anthony Azzopardi-trained Whiskey Riot has box one in heat one while the Seona Thompson-trained duo Poke The Bear and Black Opium have drawn the rails and box eight respectively in heats three and seven.
Whiskey Riot has not raced at Wentworth Park but trialled solo in a sizzling 29.84sec over 520m on March 23.
"He has a gun draw on Saturday night,'' trainer Azzopardi said.
"Whiskey Riot has good early speed and rails well so he could not be boxed any better.
"Since his trial at Wentworth Park he has not raced but I took Whiskey Riot to Ballarat for a hit-out and he went extra well.''
Poke The Bear was surprisingly run down by Blue Striker at his most recent outing, over 595m at Sandown on Mar 21, but is ready to bounce back and score his 38th win in 69 starts on Saturday night.
Jason Thompson, whose wife Seona trains Poke The Bear, said: "He pulled up a bit ordinary after he was beaten at Sandown so we gave him a freshen up with the Easter Egg in mind.
"At his most recent subsequent trial Poke The Bear went as fast as he has ever gone, so there is nothing amiss with him.''
The Thompsons are delighted with Black Opium's box eight draw.
"She has won from boxes one and two but the extreme outside is perfect for her,'' Jason Thompson said. "Black Opium actually hates the inside boxes because she does not like having dogs coming across on top of her.
"She has not seen Wentworth Park but the Easter Egg is a three weeks series so she should be right at her peak if she is fortunate enough to make the final on April 20.''
Blue Striker, the greyhound who stunned racegoers by giving Poke The Bear a start and a beating at Sandown on March 21, returns to Wentworth Park in box two in heat four of the Easter Egg.
Blue Striker made his Wentworth Park debut last Saturday night and looked all over a winner when he led clearly around the first turn.
Surprisingly, Blue Striker, who is renowned for his strength at the finish of his races, was headed by Good Odds Buddy on the back straight before coming again in the straight to finish second to that greyhound, beaten just under a length.
Trainer Peter Akathiotis admits he was "shocked'' to see Blue Striker beaten into second place after leading comfortably at the first turn.
"All I can put it down to is that Blue Striker had never seen Wentworth Park previously and simply got a bit lost.
"He did seem to feel his way around the course when he was entering the back straight and I expect him to go a lot better this week.
"It's great to see him in box two because in Melbourne lately all Blue Striker seems to draw are boxes four, five and six.
"Blue Striker is a real home-grown dog because I not only bred him, but also bred his sire Blue Giant and his dam, Blue Lavros.''
Victorian greyhounds have won the past nine Golden Easter Egg finals and apart from the above quartet, will be hard to beat in several other heats on Saturday night - outstanding Melbourne-trained trio Miss Splendamiro has box one in heat four, Orson Allen box five in heat five and Fabwik box three in heat eight.
Best Bet Whiskey Riot (race 2)
Best Value Blue Striker (race 5)
Quaddie race 5 - 2, 1, 3
Race 6 - 5, 1, 2
Race 7 - 1, 2, 5
Race 8 - 8, 7
$20 for 37.03%