The feature races continue in the run up to Christmas at Albion Park on Thursday night with the running of heats of the Middle Distance Challenge (600m) and the 5th Grade Christmas Stocking (520m).
Both races have drawn quality nominations and provide very competitive looking heats.
The two heats of the Middle Distance Challenge contain mostly seasoned campaigners with the opening heat seeing Group 1 Sky Racing Brisbane Cup runner up Cyndie’s Magic lining up from box eight, and she is sure to be well fancied given her fast closing second placings to Dyna Double One in both the heat and final a few weeks ago. Bill Elson’s charge has already proved that she is adept over a journey, running creditable races in both the Group 1 Brisbane Gold Cup (710m) and the Listed Superstayers Invitational over the Winter Chasing Carnival.
Taking her on will be Selena Zammit’s Marluca (Box Six), two from two over the 600m journey since being stepped up and she is not without a hope. Lee Wylie’s Cracking Caza will start from Box Four and she too has also impressed over the longer trip winning her 600m debut two Thursday’s ago in 35.12. Tony Apap’s Pikelet (Box 3) and Darren Russell’s Oxley Rubey have also shown ability over this distance and can’t be discounted.
The second heat is wide open, with all eight greyhounds holding claim to the victory. The principal contenders will be Peter Ruetschi’s Hougenie (Box 7) who is a speedy beginner and has performed at the top level for most of her career. Magic Maiden (Errol Kleinhans, Box 1) has drawn well near the rails and should be close to the lead early, and a performance near her best will see her right in the mix. Golfing Amy (Michael Brauer, Box 8) has the quality to produce a good performance, despite being at the back end of her career but is drawn awkwardly out wide. If she can find the rail early and avoid trouble, she will be storming home.
The first four greyhounds home in each heat will make up the $10,400 final to be run next Thursday, December 24.
There are also six heats of the 5th Grade Christmas Stocking up for decision, with plenty of depth amongst the events.
Heat One sees Dave Brett Memorial Maiden winner Fabulous Bill line up from box one against the talented Sheza Keen Size (Peter Ruetschi, Box 3) and fast 29.96 Albion Park winner Gold Ziva (Kerry Hoggan, Box 6).
Doogal for Steven Scott will look to make it four wins on end in the 2nd heat from the inside draw. Peter Wilson’s Velocity Shirl (Box 4) has won in 29.72 here and a run of that calibre should see her right in the finish. Other chances include Cosmic Backstep (Box 5) for Northern Rivers trainer Peter Simpson who has been racing in terrific form, and Sannette Chop (Box 2) for Peter Young having his first Queensland start.
The third division of the series looks well set up for Selena Zammit’s Alpha Theseus in his favoured wide draw of Box Seven. If he can avoid early trouble he will be very hard to beat. Tony Zammit’s Grin And Win was a big priced winner here last week and cannot be discounted from the inside draw.
Heat Four is quite open, with Tobias Rumble (Darren Russell, Box 8) coming back from a midfield showing in the Group 1 Hobart Thousand heats last Thursday. Up and comer Premier Jet (Craig Hazelgrove, Box 5) has made a great start to his career with two wins in three starts over sprint trips at Albion Park and Ipswich and is untried at the 520m. Gun Legacy (Elaine Williamson, Box 6) and Houindeed (Peter Ruetschi, Box 3) will be running on late.
Heat Five is another competitive event, with likely favourite Alpha Adonis (Selena Zammit) drawn in box eight. He is in tremendous form, recording another win at Albion Park on Monday night. Lorian Aditi (Dean Turley, Box 3) won here last Thursday but this appears to be a step up in class, and Tarks Black Rose (Peter Wilson, Box 1) has won in 29.95 at headquarters which would see her hard to beat.
The final heat, and the final event of the night, Race Ten, looks set to go to another Peter Simpson runner, Create Havoc. She impressed with a best of the night 30.07 here last week and looks ideally drawn to find the lead from Box One. Rum Rambler (James Loye, Box 6) was a winner at Ipswich recently and appears the main danger.
Each heat winner, and the two fastest second placegetters will progress to the $9,500 final which will be run alongside the Middle Distance Challenge Final on a big night of racing next Thursday, Christmas Eve.
The first of the ten events Thursday night kicks off at 6:41pm.