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Townsville’s Country Cup representatives locked in

By Brennan Ryan

Graded chasers Stratford and Diva Valentine will represent the Townsville Greyhound Racing Club in the Racing Queensland Country Cup Final at Albion Park next month.

This follows Tuesday night’s running of the Country Cup semi-final at the Townsville showgrounds, where the Rhonda Essery-trained Stratford had proven too strong for his rivals by coming away to score a determined victory in running 28.90 seconds from box six.

Victory in the Country Cup semi gave Stratford - a son of Fernando Bale and Jingjing - his 11th win, on top of nine minors from 31 starts for the Burdell-owned and trained chaser.

Diva Valentine finished a gallant second with Sprightly Bro running third, beaten 4 lengths.

Trainer Rhonda Essery commented saying Stratford has matured well into a nice race dog.

“I purchased both Stratford and few of his littermates through Peter and Sonia Davis from New South Wales, the dog has just turned two so he will get better with age,” Essery said.

“Sectionals-wise I have no doubt whatsoever that Stratford can be a strong 500-metre dog.”



Townsville | Townsville Greyhound Racing Club | 9:25 PM

Country Cup S

Rhonda will now make travel plans for Stratford to be sent south to trainer Peter O’Reilly.

Townsville has remained dominate in the Country Cup series, winning two of its past three runnings, and Rhonda hopes her record in the Final will improve further third time around.

“We’ve had two runners in the race and I think Stratford will be a good chance,” she said.

So far, Rockhampton has run their Country Cup qualifier with trainer Dallas Beckett preparing two runners with Craig’s Regret and Qualified, while at Bundaberg trainer Ricky Hassall will be also represented with two runners in Nerve Settler and Prince Cosmic.

The field for the Racing Queensland Country Cup Final will be announced in the coming weeks.