It takes a committed trainer to drive over eight hours each week to race a greyhound- but this is exactly what Maudsland mentor Dave Irwin has done for the past three Thursday’s as he has made the lengthy trip from Queensland to Maitland Showground. This week all the kilometres travelled certainly paid off with his superstar bitch Scissor Queen victorious in the $4,000 to the winner Maitland Gold Collar Final against a red hot field that forced the raging favourite to dig deep to claim the feature.
Despite pinging the lids from the cherry, the red fawn dynamo was unable to hold the lead, as first section record holder Swift Callah crossed early to take up the top spot. Running close behind the leader in second, the petite chaser managed to hold the inside when trouble struck and railed through for an emphatic victory in a slick 22.45 seconds.
Irwin, who trains by the motto of taking his dogs only to where they are suited has certainly hit the nail on the head with the daughter of Knocka Norris and Surf Queen who has definitely built up a strong affiliation with the Maitland track; with Thursdays success her fourth from as many starts at the showground.
The Gold Collar Final was Scissor Queens 17th race win from just twenty five race starts, and with a further three placings to her name she has been a model of consistency for her first-time owners; a group of three work mates all from the Sunshine State. Prior to Scissor Queens trio of successful runs at Maitland over recent weeks, the bitch had been successful in eleven of her twelve prior starts - with the twelfth run a last at Lismore where she was found to be suffering from an injured hip and shoulder.
Since returning from injury Scissor Queen has not put a paw wrong recording a breathtaking 22.25 seconds win at Maitland her first run back with last week’s heat win of 22.38 seconds proving that she had certainly bounced back to her brilliant best. Among her victories is the 2012 Grafton Cup where she defeated Marbo Man, and a near record 27.15 second win at the same track over the 480 metre trip.
Two lengths behind Scissor Queen in second place was the ever consistent Diddy Strike who ran yet another honest race for industry good guy Colin Kneeshaw. Kneeshaw who breeds all of his own greyhounds can be proud of his racers performance, showing the short course specialists that he too is a force to be reckoned with. Diddy Strike has won twenty three races from seventy four starts with yet another twenty minors to his name including nine wins and nine placing’s at Maitland with a personal best of 22.49 seconds over the 400 metres. The black son of Elite State may be turning four years of age soon but is certainly racing in great form and should be claiming another victory before too long.
Also catching the eyes of spectators on Thursday evening were talented sprinters Knocka’s Return and Black Magic Opal who were both dominant in their respective races.
Bringelly trainer Mark Willcox made the journey up to Maitland with brilliant pup Knocka’s Return who could not have been any more impressive at his track debut. Beginning well from box four the Red Brindle and White dog showed plenty of early pace to take the lead before the turn out of the back straight and powered to the line to win by three quarters of a length over Queenslander Rozelle Flash, who ran a very exciting second. Recording a scorching 25.05 seconds for the 450 metre trip, the two year old looks a definite contender for the Group Two Maitland Gold Cup .Now holding the glistening record of eight wins from just nine race starts, he looks a star in the making with the next few weeks sure to be the acid test for the chaser.
Another pup who will be looking to contest The Gold Cup Series is Leslie Hudson’s exhilarating youngster Black Magic Opal. The black dog does not turn two until May but has already proven his abilities on the racetrack recording nine very exciting wins and three seconds from a mere twelve starts. The son of Magic Sprite and Hudson’s own handy racer Awesome Opal is all speed and possesses both an excellent turn of foot from box rise as well as a big motor that allows him to put in a powerful finish. Thursday’s win kept his flawless Maitland record intact, where he now boasts four wins from four starts, with both 450 metre victories recorded in blistering times of 25.04 seconds and 25.17 seconds respectively.
The heats for the prestigious Group Two Maitland Gold Cup will be held on the 4th of April 2013, and it is sure to attract some very enthralling sprinters to the Hunter Valley. All eyes will be on Maitland over the next few weeks as trainers bring their contenders to Maitland for a look at the track, with chasers such as Knocka’s Return and Black Magic Opal already looking standouts for the series.