Group racing returns to Albion Park for the first time in 2016 with the running of the heats of the Group 3 Queensland Cup over the 600m journey. The best middle-distance greyhounds in South East Queensland will line up for a shot at next week’s $38,000 final.
In heat one, the Mathew Reid-trained Norm The Storm has drawn box one which should see him very hard to beat. He recorded a flying 34.69 win in the Clem Jones Cup two weeks ago at just his second run over the journey and looks set to bounce back from last week’s third placing behind Abby’s Magic, where he ran into trouble early and was too far back in the run. He will take on just six rivals, most notably Apatite (Joanne Price, box seven) who has yet to be unplaced from eight starts over the 600m at Albion Park, recording five wins, the fastest in 34.91 seconds. Tony Apap’s Cosmic Boss has been out of form since resuming over the 520m, but has recorded a 34.72 victory over the track and distance and he will be out to try and recapture some of his past form. Parchment for Michael Boody is the only greyhound having its first run over the middle-distance, after performing consistently over the 520m at both Ipswich and Albion Park and could find the 600m journey more to his liking.
The second heat again appears to be a race with two or three chances, headlined by Velocity Shirl for Peter Wilson, which jumps from box eight. She recorded a 34.69 win two starts back before taking on Norm The Storm in a race which was billed as a match last Thursday night. Both greyhounds found one better in Abby’s Magic, but she should find this field more suitable if she can avoid early interference from the wide box. Her main danger is Group 1 placegetter Cyndie’s Magic, the undeniably talented chaser trained by Bill Elson who has been mixing her form over the 520 and 600m journeys of late. She has a powerful turn of foot at the end of a race and she should appreciate the extra distance. Knights Templar (Amy O’Reilly, box six) and Pikelet (Tony Apap, box seven) both have respectable form over the middle distance and could feature if the favourites find trouble.
The final heat is the most open of the three, with at least six of the runners holding genuine winning claims. Abby’s Magic will likely be the favourite of punters after sending hyped greyhounds Norm The Storm and Velocity Shirl to defeat last Thursday night. She will face stiff competition from the ever consistent Sarajevo Girl (Richard Nelson, box two), smart stayer Golfing Amy (Michael Brauer, box three) and Oxley Rubey (Darren Russell, box eight) who was a 34.77 winner here last year. The Tony Apap-trained Vegas Bound makes a step up to the middle distance journey for the first time, and given that she possesses a powerful finish over the sprint trip it appears that 600m will be no obstacle, and she can’t be discounted despite the steep rise in class.
With three heats being run, first and second placegetters in each heat will progress with the fastest two third placegetters also advancing to next Thursday’s final.
In other events, smart stayer Tuavasa Shek, trained by Darryl Chapman makes his return from a long layoff in the second race on the program. He was an impressive winner of the Winter Chase (710m) last May and qualified for the Group 1 Brisbane Gold Cup Final (710m) before injury curtailed his preparation.
The first of ten races on a quality program at Albion Park kicks off at 6:42pm.