Paws Of Thunder Candidates' Winning Warm Up

By Jeff Collerson
Zipping Kansas and Connections produced slashing trials for next month's Paws Of Thunder with dazzling Wentworth Park wins on Sunday night while on the same card Yuko Girl zoomed into calculations for the National Futurity with an impressive city debut.

Heats of the group one Paws Of Thunder will be held on January 15 with the Futurity, a group one age classic for bitches, getting under way 24 hours earlier.

Fresh from his defeat of Wow in a flying 29.46 in the Christmas Gift match race series at headquarters on December 18, Zipping Kansas trounced kennelmates Coast Model and Bandit Ned in Sunday's Free-For-All.

Coming from third on the back straight, Zipping Kansas swept around pacemakers Coast Model and Winlock On Top to hit the front on the home turn before careering away for a six lengths winning romp in a stunning 29.40.

After the race trainer Jason Magri said: "Coming on top of his Christmas Gift win, that race will work wonders for this dog's confidence.

"The 520m Paws Of Thunder is the logical race for him but after that series I intend stepping him up in distance.

"And I'm not just talking about middle distance racing because I think Zipping Kansas could become a top class stayer.''

Connections took his record to nine wins from 10 starts with his all-the-way victory in 29.68 on Sunday, reeling off sensational splits of 5.39 and 13.73 before defeating Tarawi Ted by four lengths in a 520m fifth grade.

"Although he has been lightly raced Connections is too old for the National Derby so while the Million Dollar Chase is his main goal, he will first tackle the Paws Of Thunder series,'' trainer Darryl Thomas said.

"When he got hurt in May he was sidelined for seven months which is why he has been lightly raced.

"I was a bit worried when Connections drew box one tonight because he steps to the right coming out of the boxes and again on the first turn.

"Fortunately he nailed the start so the box didn't matter but I would always prefer seeing him anywhere from boxes five to eight.

"When his owners brought him to my place as a 12 month old puppy he was a scrawny 24kg and I looked at them and said what do you expect me to do with this?

"Connections is still only around 27kg but he has made up into a really good greyhound.''

Sam Sultana, whose daughter Kristy trained the NSW Greyhound of the Year award winner Flying Ricciardo, was in the limelight himself on Sunday when his recent acquisition Yuko Girl ran away with a 520m fifth grade in a slick 29.81.

Having her first 520m test, the daughter of Zambora Brockie lifted her tally to five wins from six appearances with an all-the-way win, producing an especially quick second split of 13.80 in the process.

Just 20 months old, Yuko Girl is the perfect age for the group one National Futurity series.

Trainer Sam Simonetta made a bold move when he launched Sunrise Dancer's 520m career on October 27, a mere month after she had strung together four successive wins over 330m at Richmond.

But Sunrise Dancer has vindicated Simonetta's decision and on Sunday night scored her fifth win over the WP 520m trip.

She led throughout from box seven in her personal best Wenty time of 30.06, scoring her first win in seven races from the two outside draws.

After the race Simonetta said: "When Sunrise Dancer is racing on a Saturday night I always give her two runs during the week but because she drew wide tonight I only gave her a single hit-out this week.

"She had to go into this race nice and fresh because she was going to have to get across to the fence from box seven so I could not risk taking the edge off her early speed.

"I'm ecstatic Sunrise Dancer has won five races at Wenty but not surprised because she just loves this track.

"She has never even had a lead-on trial here, she doesn't need it, and she pulls up clean-winded after every race, so the 520m has never been a problem for her.''