A cracking field has assembled for the Husqvarna Maitland Gold Cup Final over 450 metres on Thursday night.
Dogs from the Hunter, Queensland, Victoria and the best from Sydney assembled for heats at Maitland Showground last Thursday and the quality was so hot two track record holders couldn't make it through.
"It all points to a red-hot final this Thursday," Maitland Greyhounds manager Tony Edmunds said. "Anyone can win it."
Fernando Blaster looks best placed on form and draw after clocking 24.70 seconds in winning heat two in the fastest time of the day, and then drawing the plum box one for the final.
"Trained by Terry Jordan from Ettrick, up near Kyogle, the dog is by legendary sire Fernando Bale and has three wins and a place from its five starts from box one," Mr Edmunds said. "If he can hold the rail at the first corner, he will be the dog to beat."
Local hope and defending champion Aston Duke jumps from box four, and has followed a similar path to the final as last year, running second in his heat in a time of 24.98s.
"After that second in the heat he came out to lead throughout and win last year's final," Mr Edmunds said.
"He's trained by Jason Mackay from Richmond Vale. Jason is a master trainer and you can bet Aston Duke will be there at the end."
Boom sprinter Hardaway Titan, jumping from box five, has 14 wins and a second from 15 starts, and ran 24.86s to win the first heat.
"Trained by Ron Marsden, who's a regular at Maitland, it's easy to see Hardaway Titan giving the field a real run for its money to the first corner and whoever sticks their nose in front will be hard to beat," Mr Edmunds said.
Black Forge (box six) loves the Maitland track and ran the second fastest heat time of the day - 24.81s. Trained by Darren Sultana from Sydney, Black Forge is a high-speed dog that has won multiple times from out wide.
"The Gold Cup is the premier greyhound meeting on the Maitland calendar, and it's one of the few times we race at night. It's a great opportunity for families to come along and enjoy a night out at the dogs," Mr Edmunds said. "There will be face painting, balloon art, ball games, canteen, bar and TAB facilities - something for the whole family. It should be a ripper."
Gates open at 6pm on Thursday with the first race scheduled to kick off just after 7pm. Entry to the showground is via Evans Street, off Louth Park Road.
- The box draw for the Husqvarna Maitland Gold Cup Final: 1 Fernando Blaster 2 Call Me Ugo 3 Dyna Hunter 4 Aston Duke 5 Hardaway Titan 6 Black Forge 7 Burning Fuel 8 Corykodi 9 Flying Apollo - first reserve 10 Pindari Express - second reserve