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Werina Express and Freida Las Vegas find Common Ground on Feature Thursday

By Isaac Murphy

Last night’s dual feature card at Albion Park didn’t disappoint, deserving prospects winning the Dave Brett Memorial Maiden and the Easter Trophy, while and old favourite found his way back to the top in Best 8 company.

The time-honoured Dave Brett Memorial Maiden drew a field of talented hopefuls, but Werina Express for Noel Evans was the clear standout after an eight-length heat win the pup overcame early adversity to justify his $1.60 quote.

“He proved again he’s a real race dog when Darren Johnstone’s bitch Madam Waltz jumped well and drifted up the track in front of him, he mustered well and drove straight past her,” Noel Evans said.

“It was a big effort to miss the start by half a length cop a bit of contact early on and still hold the rail around the corner.”

Werina Express was issued another challenge on the point of the corner as Tahiti Beach threatened to take over, but the favourite wasn’t having it.

“When they appeared again from behind the post it looked like Steve Scott’s dog (Tahiti Beach) was actually about to cut across and we’d check off heels,” Evans said.

“Watching the replay, the seven did get about half a length in front, but at no stage did we give up the fence and holding that position down the back was a key to winning the race.”

“I was pretty confident once he drove through and took up a clear lead, they’d be flat out chasing him down and despite a big run from Calum Anderson’s bitch (Marseille) he did it safely.”

Werina Express is not two until October and Evans doesn’t want to flatten the chaser after winning the race he’d been targeting.

“We’d been holding him back a couple of months to debut in this race, he was well and truly wound up, I think it might be the right time to give him a break for a couple of weeks,” Evans said.

“It gives us a bit of time to work on his box manners, because if he can even improve just that half-length, he’ll be tough to beat.”

“If he can win his Novice, we’ll have a look at the Young Guns with him even though he’ll be giving up 12 months experience to some of those dogs.”

Punters who follow winning form would have had full pockets after The Easter Trophy final, $6.50 elect Frieda Las Vegas for Tony Zammit making it nine wins from eleven starts with a trademark closing sectional.

“I wasn’t sure where she was going to go when she was closing in on the leading brigade around the six hundred boxes, but she managed to make herself skinny and squeeze through the centre somehow,” Zammit said.

“You don’t train a dog to race like she does, but the fact she does get back has made her find ways to navigate fields and it’s working at the moment.”

“It’s something you can’t teach; you can improve a dogs box manners or work on certain sectionals but her race sense if something she was born with.”

With almost $40,000 in the bank and still in the infancy of her career Frieda Las Vegas’ trajectory is only going up.

“She has a pretty impressive body of work for a bitch who’s not yet two, even the coupe races she hasn’t won she’s shown that trait to keep chasing,” Zammit said.

“She’s still got another Thursday night fifth grade she can have a crack at over the 520, but I’ve actually put her in a mixed fourth/fifth grade at Ipswich next Tuesday to keep her sharp.”

“She’s raced well at both tracks and it’s good for her career moving forward if she can continue to win at both.”

For a bitch that has missed almost a year of racing through recurring injuries Common Ground has achieved a hell of a lot for Warren Nicholls and she gave a hot field a lesson Best 8 Company last night.

“It was a cracking win and gave me a little bit of extra satisfaction with a lot of people telling and asking me what was wrong with her, when she’s just been unlucky in open grade the last few times out,” Nicholls said.

“When you get a dog like Oh Mickey who deserves all the respect he gets in the race you can tend to forget about the credentials of the other runners, our girl is going as good as she ever was.”

“It doesn’t take much to look like a goose in top grade, Shakey Diesel has been flying but was no-where last night, that doesn’t mean he can’t bounce back next week and win.”

Always graded in top company there aren’t too many options for Common Ground of late, the win a much-needed confidence boost for the trainer himself.

“It was a breath of fresh air to see her fly around that first corner and go on to win like she did, not two weeks ago she was second reserve couldn’t get a run at Capalaba, I thought I was going to have to take her to Moree for a run,” Nicholls laughed.

“We ended up getting a start at Capalaba last week where she won in a personal best of 19.91, so we’ll take her back this weekend and hope for a Capalaba, Albion Park double again.”

“She’s never been an out and out straight track dog, but with not much on outside the weekly Best 8’s we’ll probably give her a go at the Cup heats.”

Nicholls and his wife Tracy had been riding the training rollercoaster with their biggest two earners Common Ground and Dusty Delight out of the money, but things change quickly in the greyhound game.

“A week can be a long time in greyhound racing, until last Sunday we hadn’t had any winners in about two and a half weeks,” Nicholls said.

“Suddenly we got three on Sunday, a Best 8 of Thursday and don’t forget Dusty Delight who ran a big third in the same race.”