We have now staged two Regional Finals in the GRNSW + Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase, with two vastly different results. What will Maitland throw up tonight?
At Bathurst on Monday it was two outsiders Rohan Hill and Double Up Dee upstaging their more talked about opponents and snatching the first two spots for the semi-finals.
Then on Tuesday at Lismore, things went more to script, with the first and second favourites passing the post in that order, as Snug defeated Raven Izmir to advance to the October 12 semis at Wentworth Park.
If the heats are a gauge, then Maitland tonight has drawn together an intriguing final, with many of the runners legitimate and serious contenders.
Three heat winners - Queensland’s Precious Sal (pictured), Victorian She’s Gifted and Darren Sultana’s Flying Ella - led throughout in their respective events last Thursday. The other heat winner, Zipping Buddy, overcame trouble to win his heat.
So while there will be a dash for the lead, the runner of interest, and early favourite with some betting agencies, is a dog which finished second last week, but has drawn perfectly in the red, Big Black.
No matter which of the speedsters finds the front, Big Black is perfectly placed to stalk that leader, and capable of producing a finish to run down those in front.
Big Black couldn’t quite catch the high-flying Precious Sal last week as she carved out 24.82s, but she did that leading all the way off the red. She has drawn the five tonight, and won’t find it as easy as last week. Big Black actually posted the second fastest time of the night, a 24.92s in finishing a length and a half behind the winner.
She’s Gifted is drawn well out in the six as she prefers to cross dogs rather than have them come across her, and she is flying at present. She won her heat in 24.96s, but has run 24.78s here. She has a massive chance.
Flying Ella is peaking at the right time, and looked great winning her heat in 24.97s off the eight box and she is better boxed now down near the fence.
Zipping Buddy cannot be left out either as he showed great grit to win last week, and is drawn to be in the finish again.
Another one with a chance is the kennelmate of Precious Sale, Yeah Okay. He was good second behind Flying Ella after being slowly away, and could be another swooper chasing the leaders.
A great race, and whether they are favourites or not, the two to come out of the final will be deserving semi-finalists.
Away from the Million Dollar Chase Regional Final, and the best bet on the program arises in race nine, the Easts Les Darcy Cup heat over 450m.
Beemo’s Opal has had three wins and two placings from six starts, and has run home strongly to win his past two over 400m here. The step up in trip here suits perfectly and while he can be a risky beginner, he has high speed and will be powering home.
It’s a fantastic meeting tonight also at Dapto with four heats of the Group One Megastar to be held, featuring the likes of Raw Ability, Aston Duke, Zipping Tayla, Sunburnt Highway, Bathurst Regional final winner Rohan Hill, Zipping Bailey, Blinkin Gone, Ritza Millie, and the list goes on.
Best bet on the program arrives before the heats however in race four, the Cash House Every Friday Stakes over 600m in the shape of Blue Moon Rising.
After two brilliant wins, at Dapto over 600m and Ladbrokes Gardens over the same trip, he looks to have this at his mercy.
At Dubbo there will be one heat of the GRNSW + Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase, and in that event the standout in Ray Smith’s Little Digger. Unbeaten in four runs at Dubbo and with a best time of 29.52s, he just looks a class above these. The one to watch in the race is David Pringle’s Midnight Starlet which has been racing well recently in Victoria and has two wins from two outings at Dubbo.