Striker Light's consistently dazzling box speed and her newly acquired tractability in the run to the first turn should pave the way for her to win Saturday night's $250,000 Group 1 Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park IN Sydney.
The National Futurity winner went slightly out of favour when she drew box seven, with the race sponsor offering odds of $3.50 behind current favourite Up Hill Jill ($2.80). But George Farrugia, a Melbourne greyhound journalist who is one of Striker Light’s owners, believes his greyhound will handle the wide draw.
“Early in her career she wanted to cut towards the rails as soon as the boxes opened but not now,” Farrugia said. “When she won her heat of the Group 1 Paws Of Thunder at Wentworth Park in January she drew box five but ran in a straight line until she reached the first turn. She only veered to the inside once she cleared her rivals and was in the lead.”
Striker Light has looked unstoppable in the Golden Easter Egg series, taking out her heat and semi -final in 29.67 and 29.64 respectively – both best of night times.
Farrrugia took a massive gamble when he bought Striker Light as an unraced puppy.
“She had broken in well over short distances but it was anybody's guess whether she could run 520 metres,” Farrugia said.“Striker Light's trainer Brett Bravo had her checked out after her semi-final win last Saturday night and she is 100 per cent, jumping out of her skin.”
Best outsider in the Golden Easter Egg looks to be the Neil Staines-trained Slamming Thunder, who ran the race of his life when a strong finishing second, beaten less than a length, in Up Hill Jill's semi-final. Slamming Thunder is currently priced as a $15 chance.
“That was the best performance of his career and he now seems to have taken a liking to Wentworth Park,” Staines, a former shearer based in Yass, said. “Slamming Thunder has peaked at the right time and I'm happy with box five because he has never done much good from boxes one or two.
“His best runs have been from boxes three or five and if he nails the start, and sits just behind the pacemakers on the back straight, he has a good chance.”
Favourite Up Hill Jill will need to jump quickly as she has box two and could have difficulty crossing Mack Tux ($4.60), another brilliant front-runner, who has box one.
“When I place her in the boxes Up Hill Jill runs up against the front so when the lids lifted it is as if she is standing at the edge of a cliff,” Up Hill Jill’s trainer David Geall said.
“Due to that trait she can sometimes miss the jump a half-length or so, but her early pace usually gets her in front by the first turn.”
Other contenders are the Anthony Azzopardi-trained Lucky Chap (box three, $5.50) who finished second in his semi-final to another Victorian, Aqua Cheetah (box six, $15).
Aqua Cheetah is one of two greyhounds in Golden Easter Egg who is trained by Seona Thompson, with the Victorian also lining up the more fancied Big Flood (box four, $7.50) who qualified with a second placed finish behind Mack Tux in his semi- final.
The Group 1 Golden Easter Egg is the highlight on a great card of racing which features five Group races. First race jumps at 7.28pm with the Golden Easter Egg race seven, jumping at 9.35pm.