The 2019 Ladbrokes Golden Easter carnival got off to a flying start at Wentworth Park on Wednesday night with a card full of heats of the Ladbrokes Magic Maiden series, and the anticipation of seeing one of the most talked about litters was well worth the wait.
All eyes were firmly fixed upon the littermates of the Barcia Bale and Chica Destacada mating, the second litter out of the 2014 national sprint champion, the first producing, among others Poco Dorado and Blue Moon Rising, and the youngsters did not disappoint.
Of the seven littermates to contest the heats of the series, all seven qualified for the next week’s semi-finals with John and Minnie Finn winning three heats and qualifying their six greyhounds, and Kerry Drynan, whose mother Doreen trained Chica Destacada, qualifying her bitch from the litter, Timeless Moment, for the next Wednesday’s semis.
The Egg Carnival, which runs over the next three Saturdays and again next Wednesday, will culminate on Easter Saturday, April 20, with an evening full of group racing and highlighted by the $250,000 to the winner Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg Final, but opening night of the carnival saw around 80 greyhounds – many unraced - all looking to break their maiden status or at the very least advance through to the four semi-finals of the series.
Many well-bred pups were making their racetrack debuts in the Magic Maiden heats, and we can’t forget that almost five years ago to the day, this series spawned one of the most remarkable runs ever seen at Wentworth Park, when the unraced David Pringle-trained Shakey Jakey made his debut and set a still unbroken track record of 29.07s. He never contested the final, he never raced again, and was retired immediately to stud.
It didn’t take long on Wednesday night for one of those well-bred youngsters to salute when Dreamin’ Is Free, a daughter of Barcia Bale and Chica Destacada charged home to win the second heat in 30.44s for the Finn kennel.
“That was a surprise, of the ones we have from the litter, she has been trialling the slowest,” Minnie said. “It’s a good way to start when we have so many of them from the litter.”
One race later and the litter had win number two on the board, as Blanco Caliente led from box rise and carved out some good time, stopping the clock at 29.96s, the fastest time run on the night.
“She’s been missing the start in her trials so I was surprised she came out the way she did,” Minnie said.
Blue Summer Sky was in big trouble early and looked highly unlikely to even qualify for the semis, but he rattled home and scored in a slow 30.74s.
“I thought he was gone up the back,” Minnie admitted. “The time’s not important it’s about getting through to next week, and he’ll go quicker if he draws an inside box.”
Asked if she felt any extra pressure because of the profile of the litter she said: “Yeah there is, but we don’t worry about what people say, we just train them all the same.”
Ruth King admitted to being pleasantly surprised by the performance of Blinken Billy in winning his heat by 9¼ lengths in 30.00s. She conceded the wide draw was a concern, but once her dog found the fence, he was off and gone and it was race over.
Ruth had similar concerns with Blinken Billy’s litter brother Midnight Magpie who had the eight box.
“I wasn’t confident coming here because they were both (drawn) on the wrong side of the track, but there you go, two wins,” she said after Midnight Magpie saluted in 30.50s. His Ticking was second, with Timeless Moment third and into the semis.
It was the exact same time as Blinken Billy clocked by Funky Ethics in heat six of the series, the David Smith-trained dog jumping to the front, leading throughout and improving on the time he posted (30.82s) in a trial at the track back in March. Second was Electric Silk, with Making A Memory – another from the Barcia Bale-Chica Destacada litter – finishing third and advancing to the semi-finals.
Jason Magri produced a “nice pup” in the shape of Scorched who scored in 30.12s in his heat. Also qualifying and a handy run after being knocked over early, was Really Unreal, another Chica Destacada pup, who finished 3¼ lengths behind the winner, with Smith also qualifying another youngster, as My Bro Ethics finished third.
The opening heat was taken out by a roughie in Silver Heels, trained at Nowra by Stephen Fitch. In a race marred by incidents, it was the railing ability of Silver Heels which proved significant, missing all the problems on the first turn by railing through from last, and again railing through to take the lead on the home turn and race away to win in 30.63s.
Fitch qualified another runner into next week’s semi-finals when Gramercy Park finished second to Gina Spaghetti in heat four. The winner, trained by Mark Bell, clocked 30.30s, after charging to the lead from box seven, and staving off a persistent challenge from the runner-up.
Jodie Lord’s Joker Poker took out the final heat of the night in a slick time of 30.26s leading most of the way, with Flash Mulcher finishing second, and Toca Madera (pictured), the last of the Chica Destacada litter to race, finishing third and qualifying for next week.
For all the results of the heats of the Ladbrokes Magic Maiden, head to thedogs.com.au.
The Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg carnival continues on Saturday night with 10 heats of the main event, and quality greyhounds – both local and interstate - engaged in all heats.
And the perfect curtain raiser will be neds Friday Night Lightning at Wentworth Park this Friday evening.