Victorian superstar Striker Light will be striving to eclipse some of the greatest names in Australian greyhound racing history when she defends her Group 1 Golden Easter Egg crown at Sydney’s Wentworth Park on Saturday morning.
First run in 1990, the Easter Egg has become a race of champions, with the star-studded roll of honour roll featuring the likes of Brett Lee, Fernando Bale, Rapid Journey, Bogie Leigh and Paua To Burn, but none have been able to win NSW’s richest race twice.
But Striker Light and trainer Brett Bravo are poised to rewrite the record books after the 2017 Easter Egg heroine drew box one for the $250,000 to-the-winner feature, having won four of her six starts from the red, most recently the Group 1 Temlee during the Australian Cup Carnival.
“We’re pretty hopeful,” Bravo said. “She’s got early speed, a good draw and she chases like a demon, so she ticks all the boxes. She’s been racing on the big stage since her fifth or sixth start so the big stage isn’t going to worry her either.”
Striker Light booked her berth in the Easter Egg after running second in a no holds barred semi-final battle with arch rival Up Hill Jill, which is also lining up in the race for the second time after finishing sixth to Striker Light last year.
“It’s a credit to Striker Light to make the final again and obviously for Up Hill Jill as well,” Bravo said. “Striker Light and Up Hill Jill first met each other as very young pups and now at three years of age and 50-odd starts later they’re still racing at Group 1 level and they’re beating each other every other week.”
Victorian-trained sprinters have dominated the Easter Egg over the last decade, with Striker Light and Up Hill Jill, which has drawn awkwardly in six, leading the charge for a ninth straight title.
Anthony Azzopardi’s duo Crash Bandicoot and Dual Kemora and Robert Britton’s Fernando Express make up an imposing five-greyhound Victorian contingent.
“Up Hill Jill is a proven Group 1 dog, but while she’s got the experience she hasn’t got the box,” Bravo said. “Miss Splendamiro, which has drawn the checks, is an up and coming serious dog, while Anthony Azzopardi has Dual Keroma flying and Crash Bandicoot is a very powerful dog if he gets a chance to race.”
Victoria also has the favourite for Saturday’s other Group 1 event, the Association Cup over 720m, in Robert Britton’s boom stayer Rippin’ Sam.
A litter brother to Britton’s Easter Egg finalist Fernando Express, Rippin’ Sam will be striving to take the first step towards filling the huge void left by the retirement of champion kennelmate Fanta Bale earlier this week after she was injured in last weekend’s Association Cup heats.
GOLDEN EASTER EGG DRAW
1 Striker Light
2 Miss Splendamiro
3 Crash Bandicoot
4 Fernando Express
5 Two Times Twice
6 Up Hill Jill
7 Bombshell Bandit
8 Dual Keroma
9 Two Jay
10 Little Digger