Three of the nation’s elite young sprinting greyhounds – Hard Style Rico, Tiggerlong Tonk and Aston Wizard – headline the heats of the Group Listed Western Districts Derby (450m) at Ballarat on Wednesday night.
It’s a country club manager’s dream, with dual G1 finalist Tiggerlong Tonk (Box 2) kicking off the star-studded Derby action in Heat 1 (Race 6, 8.38pm).
Prepared by Correy Grenfell, Tiggerlong Tonk (Feb 18 Dyna Double One x Tiggerlong Dot) first rose to prominence in last year’s G1 Hobart Thousand series, eventually finishing fifth to Hooked On Scotch in the final.
Earlier this year, Tiggerlong Tonk – bred and owned by Michael Finn – finished third to Simon Told Helen in the G1 Silver Chief at The Meadows.
Tiggerlong Tonk has notched 11 wins from 23 starts, and he’s undefeated from two starts at Ballarat – including a sizzling 24.91sec personal best on November 27 last year. And he clocked 25.07sec accounting for the speedy Speed Star in the Anniversary Trophy on January 15.
Untapped talent Aston Wizard (Box 7) is the testing material in Heat 2 (Race 8, 9.18pm).
Trained by Glenn Rounds, Aston Wizard revealed his vast potential with a flying 29.64sec Silver Chief heat victory before finishing runner-up in the final.
Aston Wizard (Mar 18 Fabregas x Cairnlea Ellie) – bred by Jan Hubbard and owned by Ray Borda – has registered five wins from 14 starts. He clocked a slick 25.06sec win at Ballarat on race debut.
No longer the “new kid on the block”, Hard Style Rico is an established star in his own right.
WATCH: Hard Style Rico (7) clock a scintillating 24.77sec over 450m at Ballarat – only millimetres off the 24.75sec record held by Shima Shine.
Engaged in Heat 4 (Race 11, 10.19pm), Hard Style Rico (Box 7) is drawn to absolute perfection. He’s exited from the ‘black’ alley on four occasions for four wins.
Bred, owned and trained by Luckie Karabitsakos, Hard Style Rico (Jan 18 Bella Infrared x Bella Rico) has only started 13 times for seven wins, but he’s made an indelible impression on greyhound racing aficionados.
Obviously, his appearances in the G1 Silver Chief (6th) and G1 National Derby (4th), along with a quartet of flying wins at The Meadows, are major highlights. But he’s also recorded two devastating victories at Ballarat – including a near-record 24.77sec success on December 14 last year.
Meanwhile, exciting prospect Mandalorian (Box 1) looks to have Heat 3 (Race 10, 9.59pm) at his mercy.
Trained by Carol Westerlo, Mandalorian (Feb 18 Barcia Bale x Butterfly Bling) has notched five wins from 10 starts, including smart 29.28sec and 29.36sec wins at Sandown, and a last start 30.34sec win at Cranbourne.
Mandalorian was bred by Nicolas Beltran and is owned by the Alt syndicate.
G1 National Futurity finalists Run Baba Run and Aston Perignon, along with Mepunga Maggie, spearhead the Lil Dickie Oaks heats (450m).
Run Baba Run (Box 1) and Aston Perignon (Box 4) finished fourth and sixth respectively in the National Futurity at Wentworth Park, and they’ll square up again in Heat 2 (Race 4, 7.58pm) of the Oaks.
Bred, owned and trained by Jeff Galea, Run Baba Run (Mar 18 Fernando Bale x Little Pookie) is noted for her early speed and consistency with five wins, five seconds and five thirds from 22 starts.
The Paul Abela-trained Aston Perignon (Nov 17 Barcia Bale x Aston Gisle) – bred and owned by Ray Borda – has a couple of solid Sandown wins and a victory at The Meadows as the major components on her CV.
Triple G3 finalist Mepunga Maggie (Box 1) looks a serious player in Heat 1 (Race 3, 7.40pm).
Trained by Jeff Britton, Mepunga Maggie (Sep 17 Cosmic Rumble x Mepunga Rosie) finished third to kennelmate Oakvale Beauty in last year’s SA Oaks at Angle Park. She was also fourth in the Shootout won by Hooked On Scotch and fourth in the Cup Night Sprint won by Simon Told Helen – both at Sandown.
Bred and owned by Barry Smith, Mepunga Maggie has notched 11 wins (with seven seconds and three thirds) from 35 starts.
Three preludes of the Ballarat Distance Challenge (660m) will complement a sensational night of provincial greyhound racing.
Prelude 1 (Race 5, 8.20pm) is a pick-it-with-a-pin affair, with two of the main chances being Mar 17 Collision x Bekim Rose litter brothers Rockstar Prince (Box 4) and Rockstar Beav (Box 7) – both prepared by Andrea Dailly.
And don’t ignore the prospects of Mister Harlewood (Box 6) and Keeper Of Keys – trained by Jeff Britton and Angela Langton respectively.
Prelude 2 (Race 7, 8.59pm) sees a similar wide-open scenario, with possibly the best chances being Cabin Fever (Box 1), Couture (Box 2) and Bronelly Jacob (Box 6).
The Andrea Dailly-trained Shima Mist (Box 3), plus two runners with reasonable Mount Gambier form – Black Spring (Box 4) and Close Your Eyes (Box 7) – appear to hold the key in Prelude 3 (Race 9, 9.38pm).