By Isaac Murphy
With a break in Nangar Diva’s racing schedule in June, Dennis Barnes saw an opportunity to give his bitch a look around Albion Park. Following the 29.89 Best 8 victory, the one week stay turned into a one month stay and a third placing in the Group One Brisbane Cup.
Given the history the trainer didn’t hesitate to load up the trailer for the eight-hour drive from his Cudal property with Nangar Diva and kennel mate Nangar Gift for a crack at the Group Three Golden Ticket.
“I’m coming up with a fair bit of optimism about Nangar Diva. We haven’t drawn a heat with Fernando Blaster or Sennachie thank god and I give her a real chance of progressing through to next week,” Barnes said.
“Nangar Gift is a good honest little dog, but she’s not in the class of Sennachie and Sequana, but she’s not too far behind Diva and with her history up here I thought why not bring both.”
Nangar Diva came on season and had almost three months off between the Brisbane Cup and now, but Barnes said she was rounding into form at the right time.
“She’s going as well as I could have asked her win over her kennel mate Nangar Gift at Bathurst was her first 520 metres for a while and should have her well-polished for this week,” he said.
“She tends to race well fresh and with the four dog fields and a cosy draw (3) if she can get on the bunny, I like her chances at a top two finish.”
Barnes said he was shocked there was not more interstate interest in the race travel not deterring him from bringing his pair north.
“I was really surprised a lot of other trainers from down our way (New South Wales) and even Victoria didn’t come, it’s not only a Group Three with good prize money but a chance to walk straight into a group one final,” Barnes said.
“The only question for us was the travel from our place at Cudal and the weather, but we’ve got air conditioning in the trailer and will hopefully keep the dogs nice and cool for tomorrow night.”
Barnes said Nangar Diva’s familiarity at the track was invaluable when she tackles locals Zipping Cosmo and Brandi Alexander in her heat and thought the format was a big tick for the bitch.
“It’s a big deal with greyhounds if you find a track they like that hosts big races you tend to come back and she’s very comfortable at Albion Park,” he said.
“The four-dog field is massive for Diva she can really run time when she’s on her own and with a little bit of early speed I’ll be hoping she can break her best of 29.89 up there.”
Barnes isn’t getting carried away with the likes of Sennachie looming large if he can progress to next weeks final but said Nangar Diva would be back in January win or lose.
“Sennachie is one of the best dogs in Australia and the track record holder. He well and truly deserves his favouritism, but you never know what can happen on the night,” he said.
“Regardless of if we can grab the Golden Ticket or not we’ll be filling up the trailer and coming back for a tilt at the Gold Bullion in January.”