By Isaac Murphy
Infrared Lad has held off a flying Double Gee to win a pulsating Group Three Winter Chase for Joanne Price.
The dog boasted two slick wins over the staying trip at Albion Park, but was mostly unwanted in the market at $13 from Box Seven.
Kennel rep Jason Aylward said the dog's box manners stacked up well against most stayers and, although he wasn't surprised to see him hit the front first time past the post, he couldn’t believe he held on.
“He didn’t have much speed inside him, so we were just hoping he could get across and hang on," he said.
“We got a bit of luck with a few of the favourites getting in trouble, but gee it was a gutsy run, we thought he might be a bit short of a hit out over the 710 not having run the distance in a while.”
Aylward said the win is the beginning of a big Winter for the chaser who is only set to get stronger.
“Hopefully that run locks him in for the Origin Series and then it’ll be on to the Group One Gold Cup," he said.
It was a bumper night for Joanne Price with Infrared Lad’s litter brother Infrared Star doing the business in the Best 8.
“He’s a 29.7 dog when he’s on the bunny, but just copped a little whack at the first turn that slowed him down, but he was always going to be too strong,” Aylward said.
The Mick Byrne Memorial Heats were the other feature of the night providing fifth graders a series leading in to next weeks final, with a number of greyhounds showing that they had a future far beyond next grade five company.
Ray and Mary Burman have had great success with their Paw Licking Bizarre Barbie litter and it continued in heat one of the Mick Byrne Memorial.
Big Boy Bruce followed Katie Who across from out wide home strongest in 29.99, Crazy Bella closing late to finish second for Joanne Price to qualify for next week's final.
“They’re competing with each other (Big Boy Bruce, Blue Diva, Dynamite Lucy) to see who’s the best at the moment,” Burman said.
“They all have that ability to sit off and just explode in the straight, I think they all have futures over the 600, but as long as they’re winning over the 520 we’ll keep them there."
Maywyn Cash had the first run of his Albion Park career last week, a strong second to Dynamite Lucy and the dog went one better in Heat two of The Mick Byrne clearing out to win in 29.86, Blue Diva doing enough to get into second for Ray Burman.
Robert Essex kennel rep Anita Watts said the dog had put the writing on the wall last week and knew he was capable of running time if given the right run.
“He’s trialled sub thirty around here, we knew he had the ability he just had to clear them as he did tonight,” Watts said.
“I’d love an inside draw next week he crashes for the fence and could go even quicker if he gets there early.”
Painted Picture has recently returned to owners Mark Wilkes kennel and the trainer’s hard work with him at home paid off when he held out Ratajkowski for Kerry Hoggan in heat three of the Mick Byrne.
The winner of multiple age races Painted Picture relied solely on his early speed, but Wilkes has made a concerted effort to get him running a strong 520.
“His early dash was enough in his puppy races, but I’ve taken a coupe of kilos off him in an effort to get a strong 520 and he showed he’s making strides tonight winning from just off the speed, he’ll only improve next week,” Wilkes said.
Bad Benny fell in in heat four for Tony Brett just holding off a charging Kingsbrae Clarky for Dean Turley.
Brett said Bad Benny who ran second in the Queensland Derby two weeks ago was a little underdone for the run but would take great improvement heading towards a big winter.
“He was a little bit soft late off the two-week break, but I expected that,” Brett said.
“He’ll be in prime condition for the final and if he performs well it will be on to the origin series.”
The Novices set the tone for the night, Chris Riordan’s Tienne Tea rolling Dave Brett Memorial winner certification in 30.06 and What About It for Mick Patterson laying down her Flying Amy claims with a 29.91 victory.
Riordan said he was glad to get his bitch’s Novice out of the way and was looking forward to trying her over the 600 in the 0-4 win races on a Monday night.
Patterson confirmed The Group Three Flying Amy shaped as the grand final for What About It, but she would likely do most of her prep at Albion Park before the event.