Defending champion Aston Duke, track record holder Pindari Express and Paws Of Thunder winner Buck’s Future will headline the heats of this year’s group 2 Maitland Gold Cup on Thursday afternoon.
With five heats set to run on the 450m event on Thursday, the fields will feature some of the best quality greyhounds currently running around.
Featuring dogs from here in New South Wales and a number of other states, the Cup will carry a purse of $40,000 to the winner on Thursday night, March 21.
Maitland Greyhounds manager Tony Edmunds said he was thrilled with the nominations for this year’s Cup and believes with the quality of greyhound on show, it really is anyone’s race.
“I was wrapped when we got five heats,” Edmunds said. “We’ve got last year’s winner Aston Duke in race six, the track record holder Pindari Express in race eight and Good Odds Harada, who won the Ladbrokes Future Stars here back in October, in race two.”
One feature of this year’s Cup is the great mix of both local, regional and interstate greyhounds who will take part in Thursday’s heats. Edmunds said he purposely marketed the race with the intention of attracting the best possible fields.
“We’ve promoted this race fairly heavily far and wide and I think that’s shown fairly clearly seeing as we have dogs from Queensland and Victoria making the trek. We’ve pulled together five really strong heats so it should be a good night.
“A lot of interstate trainers come here and tell us we have the best one-turn track in Australia, so I’d like to believe that.
“Precious Sal from Darren Russell’s kennels in Queensland is a track specialist who runs sub-25 seconds for the 450m. She’s Gifted was a local dog when Daryl Thomas had it (now Deborah Coleman) and it went close to the track record at Gosford in their Gold Cup in January and it knows the Maitland track too, so it’ll be hard to beat.”
With such a range of talented dogs across the five heats, Edmunds struggled to single out one greyhound he thought would dominate and with some scintillating times being run at the Hunter Valley track of late, it really is anyone’s to win.
“I think the winner could come from any of the heats. I think the first heat especially is going to be a tough one and there are a number of good dogs who won’t make it through.
“We’ve got a good young curator in Luke Baker who has been turning out good tracks for the last two years and he’s got all new track records across a number of distances over the past 12 months.
“Pindari Express, who trialled here two Saturdays ago didn’t go as fast as his track record, but his trial day was a pretty good run.
“The fact too that we’ve had a few sub-25 runs here over the past few weeks tells me that when the good dogs come here, we’re going to see some good times on Thursday.”
Edmunds did, however, indicate that local trainer Jason Mackay, trainer of the 2018 Maitland Gold Cup winner Aston Duke, was one to watch and believes on current form, he will have his current Cup holder in fine form come Thursday’s heats.
“There’s always a dark horse and I always say that Jason Mackay, who’s a local and knows the track, is an astute trainer and I think keep an eye on him.
“If he gets a dog into the final, he only needs the right box and his dogs are always primed to go.
"He’s got last year’s winner back again who trialled beautifully here in the free for all last week and ran second to Riley Tokaam."