The clash of Armed Assassin, Zipping Caviar, Chevy Rock and Old Mick Banner will present punters with what promises to be the best race of the day in the Windsor Castle Hotel Stakes over 450 metres at Maitland Greyhounds on Thursday afternoon.
The Graeme Barnett-trained Armed Assassin has the time advantage on his opposition after posting a best-of-day 25.00 seconds for the journey last week, but he has drawn poorly in box four and will need luck to gain a clear run.
The son of Barcia Bale and Asha Tanga is a constant improver and at $4.20 in early betting offers good value.
Punters are, however, likely to send the Jason Mackay-trained Zipping Caviar out as favourite despite managing only a third and a fifth in his past two Maitland outings.
The son of Black Magic Opal and Zipping Willow clocked a sizzling 22.30s for the 400m at Maitland three starts back before a slick third behind the track record run of La Grand Quality and an unlucky fifth here last week after striking trouble on the first turn.
The Barry Gibbons-trained Old Mick Banner looks the likely leader from box one and comes into the race with a last at Wentworth Park after posting two impressive wins over 515m at Ladbrokes Gardens.
Old Mick Banner is $4 in early betting and could be something of a surprise packet if he can get to the front and there is any trouble behind him.
Chevy Rock jumps from box two for Butterwick trainer Michael Manuel and is again stepping up to the longer distance after two recent third placings over the 400m in good times. The son of Fabregas and Wee Chevy is well schooled on the Maitland track and the extra distance could be what he is looking for.
The first race is at 4.49pm and the meeting also features four heats of the East Maitland Business Houses Challenge.
what a blaster
It was pleasing to see 2019 Husqvarna Maitland Gold Cup runner-up Fernando Blaster finally land his first group race victory with success in the Group 2 Lismore Cup last week.
The Terry Jordan-trained son of Fernando Bale and Amy Lyndan had looked all over a winner in the Maitland Gold Cup before being run down late and beaten a head by the Darren Sultana-trained Black Forge.
Fernando Blaster pinged the lids from box two in the Lismore Cup last week and led throughout to win the 520m event in 29.50s and take home the $40,000 first prize.
The win ended a frustrating run of big race losses for Jordan and Fernando Blaster following a fourth in Group 1 Brisbane Cup last year, fourth in the Group 1 National Derby in Sydney earlier this year, second in the Group 2 Maitland Gold Cup soon after, and most recently third in the Group 3 Ambrosoli at Wentworth Park during the Golden Easter Egg carnival.
The win was Fernando Blaster's 15th win from 36 starts, and Jordan said he will next look towards the Casino Cup with heats set for November 22. The dog has had two starts at Casino without a win.
"He's run the hands off the clock there in a trial - brilliant time," Jordan said. "I don't think I can get him ready for the Ipswich Cup which is on November 9, it's probably too close, so I'll probably take him to Casino for the Cup I think."