Can Nangar Lucy continue her charge towards the Ladbrokes Country Classic? Will emerging stayer Doing FINE prove too strong? Or is an upset brewing in the inaugural running of ‘The Richmond’ at Casino?
Here’s our runner-by-runner preview of the $25,000 final:
Not many greyhounds have a win over Group 1 winning stayer Valpolicella in recent times but Sanisha knocked him off in the heats of the Gold Cup earlier this year in a sign of her quality. That was over 710m so she should be one of the stronger finishers back at 620m. Was luckless in the heats after a tardy start but Box 1 might drag her out tonight and if she can hold the rail behind likely early leader, Seven Sinners, she should get a dream run for the first half of the race around the tricky Casino circle. Second youngest runner in the final field and would be the sentimental favourite for the Tzouvelis kennel.
Ladbrokes Price: $3.90 Flew the lids in the heats (replay below) and led them all the way back to the 620m boxes before fading in the last 100m to run third to Doing FINE. That was her first ever go over 620m so with the benefit of that run under the belt, she could be a big improver today. Boxed to perfection considering how sluggish Sanisha was in the heats and should be able to find the rail with ease. We know Casino can favour on pace runners and she has the benefit of eight runs at the circuit so if she finds the front early, watch her lead this race for a fair while.
Honest dog for Jeff Ahern whose rarely run a bad race in his 20 career starts. The heat run was full of merit considering he never got within cooee of the rail at any stage, and now with a better draw, he could easily finish in the frame. Will cop pressure from both inside and outside in the run to the post for the first time but he could land in an ideal stalking position behind leaders Seven Sinners and Nangar Lucy. Was more than three weeks between runs going into the heats so should be fitter off that effort and can’t discount.
Is certainly the class of the field with Group 1 Peter Mosman Opal and Group 2 Black Top victories in her keeping after a big 2023 and was the fastest qualifier in the preliminaries. The Barnes kennel has been targeting this race since it was announced and after eliminating the travel component by staying in Grafton for the duration of the series, ‘Lucy’ should be primed to run a bottler. Probably would have preferred to have drawn inside Seven Sinners as the only other pace setter in the field, but after copping wider draws in seven of her last eight starts, Box 4 at Casino isn’t too bad. Has put together a great body of work over the middle distance since December and deserves to be favourite.
Nangar Lucy is already a 12-time winner and has accumulated more than $175,000 in prizemoney. Photo: Lisa Van Der Stok
Big price and rightly so for a dog that hasn’t won a race since March of 2023. His heat time of 36.46 won’t be good enough to figure but he was three and four wide for the first half of the race and that was his first run of any kind in over a month. He did go 35.85 at the track and trip in September last year though and a repeat of that time would probably land him on the podium. Has a pretty poor Box 5 record hanging over his head as well so will need luck.
Another dog who hasn’t tasted success in a while with CASH Ability’s last victory coming back in August. To be fair to the elder statesmen of the field though, he hasn’t had much luck drawing a box, with last week’s Box 1 start his first run from inside the yellow in a dozen starts. He’s the roughie of the field and it would certainly surprise if he bobbed up to win considering he’s never claimed a race from Box 6 (nine starts), never won at Casino (12 starts) and never won over 600m (two starts).
The second of the Col Graham runners can run a drum with 11 of his 16 starts resulting in minor money. Heck of a heat effort (replay below) to head Nangar Lucy at one stage up the back straight before fading late to run a game second, and if he can repeat that sort of run, he could figure at the business end of proceedings. He is still pretty lightly raced and has only had two starts over the middle distance so there is still a query on how well he will run out the 620m.
Wasn’t lightning away in the heats but soon landed in a perfect position behind leader Seven Sinners and once he found the tail of that dog, it was only a matter of time before he swooped on by. He was very strong to the line in the heat and clocked the second fastest qualifying time - around a length behind Nangar Lucy. He’s the baby of the field and will need luck from Box 8 on a bend start, but already he is giving every indication he will stay and many believe we will see the best of this bloke up in trip again.