Maitland Greyhound Club’s annual Maitland Business Houses Challenge final is shaping as an event bigger than Ben Hur.
That’s because Ben Hur, a fawn dog by Luca Neveelk out of Independent Lass, returns to the showground track this Thursday as the likely favourite for the $1250-to-the-winner final after an impressive heat win.
The George Borg-trained dog posted the best first section of last Thursday’s four heats and won by 10 lengths in a slick 22.50 seconds.
Punters sent Ben Hur to the boxes as the $1.30 red-hot favourite on the back of his recent wins at Bulli and Dapto and he certainly looks the dog to beat.
Shimmer Chevy finished runner-up for Lochinvar trainer Deb Roach to also earn a spot in the final.
Charlu Skye won the first heat for Killarney Vale trainer Chris Byrdon in 22.85s, beating Brian Tuft’s O’Hara (22.95s) by one and a half lengths.
Who Ha won the second heat for Lochinvar trainer Ray Lee in 22.76s, finishing a length in front of the Steven Vas-trained Little Evie (22.83s).
Austral trainer Mark Bell will return for the final after Keno Jake won the third heat in 22.48s, beating short-priced favourite Nangar Dream (22.66s) by two and a half lengths.
Swift Rain back
It was nice to see Swift Rain successfully return to the track in the PPK Mining Stakes at Maitland last Thursday for Butterwick trainer Michael Manuel after almost 10 weeks on the sideline.
The son of Lochinvar Marlow and Ticket To Mars was last out of the boxes but he had his head in front when it counted most - at the finish line.
The roar from Swift Rain’s supporters, who were in front of the finishing post, was almost deafening as he saluted in 25.25s, one and a quarter lengths in front of David Wilkie’s Hansome Junior.
Swift Rain has a personal best of 24.84s for the 450m at Maitland and has also clocked a sensational 29.39s over the 515m at Gosford in his six wins from 14 starts.
Maitland’s rich maiden series the Ladbrokes Future Stars kicks off with up to eight heats on October 19 and wraps up with the $7000-to-the-winner final on October 26.
Maitland Greyhound Club has a number of free entry tickets available for Maitland sporting clubs and community groups wishing to attend the final. Simply contact Maitland Greyhound Club on 4933 7095.