Victorians Poke The Bear and Benali were two of the most impressive qualifiers in the GRNSW + Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase but only one will have the chance to race for the $1 million first prize after the pair were drawn alongside each other in one of eight semi-finals of the series this Friday night at Wentworth Park.
Rob Britton’s Benali (pictured) clocked a sizzling 29.29s – the fastest time of the series - in winning at Wentworth Park on September 22, and the following week Seona Thompson’s Poke The Bear clocked the best time of that night, 29.51s in windy conditions, in winning his way into the semis. But after fields were released on Tuesday, Benali has drawn eight and Poke The Bear seven in semi-final number six, and in the Chase semis, only the winner advances to the grand final on October 20.
The sixth semi also features Wentworth Park heat winner Dyna Chancer (29.82s) in the one, and the talented Zipping Mitzy – second in the Bulli qualifier behind Embye – drawn in the three.
Because of the format of the Million Dollar Chase series, some longtime greyhound enthusiasts believe that Friday night’s program, which also features three heats of the Sydney Cup, is arguably the best ever card at the Glebe venue.
In the opening semi of the Chase, Western Australia’s National Sprint Championship winner West On Augie has come up with the red but will have a dour battle on his plate against Queensland Sprint Championships winner Maurice Minor and Victorian star My Redeemer.
In the second semi of the night, Victorian’s Not Available, Blue Sky Riot and Dyna Zesty will be among the main chances, while locals Watch the Wasp and Jamella Jet both have claims on their last start placings behind Mystic Riot at Wenty last Saturday.
Golden Easter Egg winner Up Hill Jill has drawn the rails in the third heat, with her likely dangers being Victorian Dyna Oscar and NSW Sprint Championship representative Sky Wave.
While the fourth heat is lacking a superstar name, it looks an interesting affair, again with the Vics likely to be prominent.
Oakvale Warrior and Mossimo Bale – first and second in their respective heats last Saturday night, have drawn wide on the track in seven and eight respectively but both can handle wide draws.
Fellow Southerner She’s Gifted who trialled in a slick 29.75s at Wenty back in September and won at Sandown last start in best of the night figures of 29.31s, has drawn the six and looms as a leading chance.
Rob Britton and Seona Thompson clash again in semi number five, Britton with last week’s heat winner Slingshot Whippa in the one and Thompson with Despacito in the two.
But the pair will have to overcome local star Miss Splendamiro who has drawn three and following her 29.52s win at Wenty on September 29, George Borg’s bitch is considered NSW’s best hope of Chase success.
Also in the strong semi is Mystic Riot in the eight, fresh from her best of the night 29.59s heat win on Saturday and fellow Wentworth Park heat winning Victorians Immen Bale and Dyna Terror.
Semi number seven will see Jodie Lord’s consistent star Champion Model – who qualified through the Temora series - come out of the red, while Dubbo qualifiers Midnight Starlet (who broke the track record in the regional final) and Little Digger, will exit the eight and four respectively.
Andrea Daily’s Dyna Patty, considered by many a strong chance to win the grand final before a race was run in the series, has drawn box five while Nowra Regional Final winners Zippy Ethics (2) and Maitland winner Big Black (3) are also in heat seven.
And in the final heat of the night, race 11 on the card, Embye, who led throughout in sizzling times at Bulli off the rails draw, has again come up with the red.
The Vics are represented by Hecton Bale (2), Hasten Slowly (4) and Orson Allen (5), while another of the local hopes is stayer turned sprinter Big Butters (8).
First race on Friday is at 7.19pm.