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Christmas Challenge set to light up Albion Park

By Isaac Murphy

The heats of the Christmas Stocking and Middle Distance Challenge have produced tantalising fields for next week’s finals, with a number of greyhounds staking there claims with eye catching runs.

The Christmas Stocking Heats provide a platform for Fifth Grade greyhounds to show their potential, with the final to be comprised of the first and second placed finishers from four heats.

Galway Johann drew first blood for Kevin Galloway managing to stretch away from a field beating home fellow qualifier Yoremmup for Brian Baker.

A greyhound noted for using the track Galway Johann managed to extract himself off the fence from box one, a draw Galloway was hoping to avoid next week.

“Wherever he draws he’s always going to give you everything, but I’d love to see him get the seven or the eight next week,” Galloway said.

Australian trainer of the year Tony Brett saw Eric Thomson Memorial winner Painted Picture book his spot in another final, coming off strong form lines behind Group One Brisbane Cup champion Hasten Slowly.

“He’s coming in off some pretty serious form close up to Hasten Slowly and it’s only his eight start,” Brett said.

“Once he gets a bit stronger he’s got the makings of a serious dog, because that early speed is worth its weight in gold.”

However, Painted Picture was upstaged by his full brother Fernando Blaster in heat three as the young sprinter recorded the fastest time of the night in 29.78 seconds.

Trainer Terry Jordan had said he was confident during the week but was pleasantly surprised with the huge run.

“I thought he could get down to be a 29.7s dog, but that was a big effort to do it tonight when he didn’t have it all his own way,” Jordan said.

Dam Slippery kept her winning streak rolling in the final heat of the night with a professional performance from the red.

Trainer Brett Hazelgrove said the bitch was just starting to reach her peak and had his sights set of bigger races.

“She’s racing in really good form at the moment, having those few wins in a row she’s really got her tail up,” he said.

“After the final I was hoping to take her to the Nationals, it’s the owners call but she is really building up to it.”

The two heats of the Middle Distance Challenge were run over the 600m trip with the first four from each race moving on to the final.

Loch Freddie for Tommy Tzouvelis caused a minor upset in the first heat, making it three for three over the track and distance making the most of her handy draw.

“She loves the one and with her early sectionals she was always going to lead,” Tzouvelis said.

“I thought Del Rey (kennel mate) might get to her down the back and then Silver Stunner came at her late but she hung on well.”

Big Bad Bob stamped himself as the dog to beat in heat two, finally finding the right runs to record his first victory over the trip in quick time 34.67, three tenths quicker than the first heat.

Trainer George Clegg rapt to see his charge get some luck in the run.

“The two dog gave us a perfect trail into the race and for the first time in a while he got a clear run and showed what he can do,” Clegg said.

“I’d love to see him draw inside again next week and after that I think I’ll gradually work him up to the 700m”

The box draws for both finals will be conducted on Tuesday, see a full list of qualifiers below.

Christmas Stocking Final Qualifiers

Galway Johann - Kev Galloway

Yoremmup - Brian Baker  

Painted Picture - Tony Brett

Bad Neighbour - Evelyn Harris

Fernando Blaster - Terry Jordan

Hay Billy - Cynthia Elson

Dam Slippery - Brett Hazelgrove

Nilly Nelly - Craig Mcphee

Middle Distance Challenge Finalists

Loch Freddie - T. Tzouvelis

Silver Stunner - Travis Elson

Del Rey - T. Tzouvelis

Magic Hornet - Ray Burman

Big Bad Bob - George Clegg

Final Chalice - Peter Simpson

Infrared Star - Joanne Price

Maurice Minor - T. Tzouvelis