Paws Of Thunder

Wow Poised For Another Group 1 Victory

By Jeff Collerson
Adelaide Cup winner Do It and Vic Peters Classic victor Bandit Ned went quicker but Wow could still be the dog to beat in Saturday night's final of the group 1 Ladbrokes Paws Of Thunder at Wentworth Park.

In last Saturday's "sudden death" heats, where only the winners proceeded to the $75,000 to the winner final, Do It led throughout in 29.59 while Bandit Ned ran down Qwara Bale to score in 29.70.

Wow clocked 29.71 but could have shaved plenty off those figures had he not become "tangled up" with pacemaker Zulu Warlord on the first turn.

"Wow was on Zulu Warlord's inside and when our dog tried to shift out a little Zulu Warlord came in a bit and Wow got all over his back legs,'' Ruth Matic, whose daughter Danielle trains Wow, said later.

Wow won last year's Paws Of Thunder in race record time of 29.49 but was subsequently disqualified with the race awarded to Winlock On Top, from the kennel of Jodie Lord, the trainer of Bandit Ned.

After Wow's impressive win on Saturday a leading Sydney trainer commented: "In May he will be eligible for Masters races, how scary is that for his rivals!''

Ruth Matic replied "I think Wow will be retired well before that happens.''

Do It's all-the-way win, when he hung on to defeat slow beginning Fernando Hunter by a head, continued the outstanding Summer Carnival being enjoyed by his Victorian trainer Jeff Britton.

Earlier on Saturday night Britton's Hank The Hustler won a heat of the group 2 GBOTA Summer Distance Plate while on Friday night he got fastest qualifier Boston Garden into the Ladbrokes National Derby final along with Osprey Phantom, who was runner-up in Persuasive's heat.

Britton not only has two finalists in the National Derby, but Mepunga Ruby's fourth placing in a Summer Distance Plate heat gave him a second contestant in the final of that event.

There were upsets aplenty in Saturday's Thunder heats with pre-post favourite Aston Rupee bundled out after finishing seventh to Irinka Riley and noted strong finisher Zipping Kyrgios being overhauled and edged out in a tight photo finish by Where's Rocky.

Christmas Gift winner Zipping Kansas was also eliminated after finishing a distant third to Chase Me Honey but his trainer Jason Magri, who has Persuasive in the Derby final, had some consolation through Where's Rocky's win.

Fourth fastest Thunder heat winner was the vastly improved Chase Me Honey, who came from third on the back straight to win in 29.74.

After the race her trainer Mick Hardman, who has Springview Noah and Pristine Image in the Derby final, said: "That was a gutsy win because she was trapped three wide going past the 720m boxes and dogs just never seem to win from there, do they?

"But Bandit Ned will be hard to toss in the final."

FORBES trainer Jack Smith's Golden Sands Classic winner Jungle Deuce was among the big names to come through unscathed, winning his heat in 29.84, while his kennelmate Irinka Riley scored in 29.78.

Wicked Flash won in 29.95 while slowest qualifier was Where's Rocky, who stopped the clock at 30.01.

Most excited trainer after the heats was Wicked Flash's conditioner Peter Ray, who cheered his $21 outsider home and then had more joy when his dog drew box one in next week's final.

"I desperately wanted him in one, two or three, so from the rails he has a good chance,'' Ray exclaimed.

Stanley Road again found trouble at the first turn before making up ground to finish second to Jeff Britton's Hank The Hustler In Saturday's first heat of the Summer Distance Plate while another Victorian, Untapped, led throughout to win heat two from John Finn's Zipping Virginia.

Hank The Hustler, who was third early and took the lead leaving the back straight, covered the 720m in 42.28 while Untapped, prepared by Dustin Drew, recorded 42.24.

Box draw for Saturday's Summer Distance Plate final is 1 By Five Helen 2 Hank The Hustler 3 Zipping Virginia 4 Untapped 5 Tap Out Sniper 6 My Margarita 7 Mepunga Ruby 8 Stanley Road reserves 9 Nimble Lulu 10 Impatient Devil.

Ladbrokes Paws Of Thunder box draw 1 Wicked Flash 2 Do It 3 Irinka Riley 4 Jungle Deuce 5 Wow 6 Bandit Ned 7 Where's Rocky 8 Chase Me Honey reserves 9 Fernando Hunter 10 Qwara Bale.