RAVEN Izmir would have had "no hope'' from a wide draw but trainer Ken Staines believes box two gives his remarkably consistent greyhound a great chance of winning Tuesday night's 41st running of the Group 2 Lismore Workers Club Cup.
Raven Izmir (pictured) ran down Queenland's Fire To Rain to win her 520m heat last Tuesday in 29.80s, taking her record to 21 wins and 15 placings from 41 starts.
Fastest qualifier was the Kim Gooding-trained Kulu Jasper who led virtually all the way in 29.73s to easily defeat Ticket To Paris, while Big Bad Bob came from midfield to run down tearaway leader Bad Neighbour in 29.74s.
Slowest heat winner was Fire To Rain's kennelmate, Fabrique, who led throughout from fellow Queenslander Del Rey, the Launceston and Gold Coast Cups winner, in 29.84s.
While Raven Izmir's trainer Ken Staines has been winning races for the past 40 years, he has not previously had a starter in Lismore's biggest race.
Staines relocated from Jerrawa, near Yass, to the Northern Rivers a few years back and Raven Izmir gives him a second-to-none chance on Tuesday night.
"The box draw was always going to be crucial because on times there is only a cigarette paper between most of the dogs in the Cup final,'' Staines said.
"That's why Raven Izmir had no hope if she had drawn out wide, but having box two, the draw she had in her heat win, gives her a terrific shot.
"When Raven Izmir led early but was headed off by Fire To Rain on the back straight in her heat I thought she was 'gone.'
"But she knuckled down well and came away to win comfortably so it was a really good effort.''
Bob Cooke, trainer of Ticket To Paris, believes box one gives his greyhound a chance despite declaring: "She is probably the slowest greyhound in the final.
"But Ticket To Paris has early pace and if she leads around the first turn anything can happen.
"I have been trying to win a Lismore Cup for years and the rails draw gives Ticket To Paris a hope.''
Ticket To Paris is owned by Queensland's Tony Brett, who has trained four Lismore Cup winners but whose only kennel entry this year, Jury, finished down the course in his heat.
Ticket To Paris' trainer Bob Cooke reckons fastest heat winner Kulu Jasper is the quickest dog in the field and is the one to beat on Tuesday night.
Kulu Jasper has box four but trainer Kim Gooding considers her greyhound better off there than he was when he won his heat from box eight.
"Kulu Jasper happened to jump good in his heat and was able to get around the field by the time the first turn loomed up,'' Gooding said.
"I didn't want box eight again but while I was hoping for one, two or three, he has a chance from box four if he gets away cleanly.''
Gooding, who has been training for 10 years and has six greyhounds in her kennels at Bentley, between Lismore and Kyogle, trained heat winners of this year's Townsville and Gold Coast Cups but has not won a major final.
When Cosmic Bonus won last week's Masters Meteor final at Wentworth Park he took his earnings to more than $282,000 for trainer Evelyn Harris and the Grafton trainer has that greyhound's younger half-sister Bad Neighbour in the Lismore Cup.
Bad Neighbour was drawn as second reserve for heat two last week but after securing a start from box six, almost stole the race, setting up a big early lead before being run down by noted strong finisher Big Bad Bob.
"I would have liked preferred to see Bad Neighbour drawn close to the rails but while she has box six again her early speed puts her in with a chance,'' trainer Harris said.
"Bad Neighbour recorded the quickest first sectional time in her heat and being in front is always an advantage in big races.''
Track specialist Big Bad Bob notched his seventh win in 10 Lismore starts after making full use of box one in his heat but because he tends to get back in the field he has drawn poorly in box five.
Big Bad Bob, who has won 27 of 71 races, is owned and trained on the Gold Coast by Dr George Clegg, believed to be the only general practicioner training and breeding greyhounds as a hobby