Catch Me Curly's scratching from tonight's state final of the Crocmedia National Sprint Championship at Wentworth Park has given Grafton-trained Cosmic Bonus a start in the event for the second year in a row.
The Evelyn Harris-trained Cosmic Bonus, who qualified as first reserve, will now start from box one.
Cosmic Bonus exited box eight in the corresponding race last year but bungled the start badly and finished fifth to Bekin Street.
Winners only from the state finals of the Sprint and Distance titles will qualify for the $75,000 to the winner group 1 finals at Melbourne's Sandown Park on August 24.
Catch Me Curly's withdrawal has tonight's event looking a match between fastest heat winner Little Digger and Sky Wave, who is chasing her sixth win in nine Wentworth Park appearances.
Little Digger, who has won nine of 23 Wentworth Park races, ran down Velocity Liberty to win his heat last Saturday night in 29.77sec, his slickest Wenty time.
Sky Wave was "taken on'' for the early lead but soon gained the upper hand to lead most of the way and defeat Catch Me Curly in 30sec.
The other heat winner contesting tonight's final is Sunburnt Highway, a fourth grade greyhound who ran the race of his life to lead throughout in 29.93sec.
Sunburnt Highway has box seven tonight and while he uses a bit of the track and would normally be well boxed out wide, he may have trouble negotiating a clear path to the first turn between Sky Wave (box six) and brilliant beginner Velocity Liberty in eight.
Velocity Liberty, (pictured) who led throughout in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Peter Mosman Classic at Wentworth Park on June 16, clocked the fastest first and second "split'' times before being run down by Little Digger in her heat.
"Although she is a good railer and has box eight, Velocity Liberty will run straight from the start to the first turn,'' Glen Goodwin, whose wife Robyn trains the greyhound, said.
"Velocity Liberty won't cut to the rails until she clears her opponents and reaches the first turn, so we are hoping for a repeat of her Peter Mosman performance.''
The John Finn-trained litter sisters Veloce Nero and Poco Dorado are drawn to snare the quinella in Thursday night's NSW final of the National Distance Championship.
Each took the lead with a lap to go before winning their heats last Saturday, with Poco Dorado covering the 720m in 42.20 and Veloce Nero stopping the clock at 42.22sec.
"Poco Dorado is a moody little thing but if she can get out wide and have things her own way she is a bit faster than Veloce Nero,'' Finn said.
"But Veloce Nero is improving all the time and she is ideally positioned in box one, while Poco Dorado is also well placed in box seven.''
Ebby Ripper, NSW's leading stayer over the past 18 months, has drawn poorly in box four.
"I was hoping she would draw box eight,'' trainer Michael Eberand said.
Big Butters, who led early before being beaten a head by Poco Dorado in her heat, is the first greyhound raced by her owner Ayden O'Donnell.
Her trainer Andrew Crouch is delighted with Big Butters' box two draw and said: "When she went to Brisbane for the State Of Origin race at Albion Park on July 12 and finished down the course, she was well below her best.
"I knew she would improve sharply last week but she went even better than I expected and just being in a big race like this is a bonus because when she is retired to stud it will make her puppies more valuable.''
Kihael Road, box five, and Kanzan, in six, are also strong chances but like Ebby Ripper, they are poorly drawn.
Best Bet Aqua Cheetah (race 3)
Best Value Ninghan Express (race 4)
Quaddie race 5 - 1, 7, 5
Race 6 - 3, 6
Race 7 - 1, 4
Race 8 - 4, 2, 3
$20 for 55.55%