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Nationals hopefuls warm up at Albion Park

By Isaac Murphy

With the State National Qualifiers looming Queensland’s best chasers were out in force with a number of runners branding themselves as greyhounds to watch over the coming weeks.

State qualifiers and finals will be held over the 520 and 710m over the next two Thursday nights, with the winner’s headed toward the National Finals at Sandown on August 24.

It was a New South Wales sprinter who first staked her claims for greater honours with John Dart’s Neeky’s Way getting the better of the fancied Hara’s Honey in 29.97.

The Northern Rivers trainer said Neeky’s Way had shown promising form south of the border leading up to the victory, but would have to qualify the hard way for Nationals.

“She probably should have won last start at Grafton, she ran up behind the dog instead of going straight round and lost her momentum a bit,” Dart said.

“She’s got to go to Sydney to qualify for the Nationals, me being from New South Wales, she’s raced there before and she’s going good I’ll probably chuck her in.”

A rejuvenated Shot Clock out of the Terrence Medcalf kennel reeled of a second straight win in brilliant fashion, flying home in 29.82.

Medcalf explaining his bitch had a new lease on life after a tough run with injury.

“We didn’t even think we were going to get her back after she pulled up lame and tore her groin and a stomach muscle a while back,” he said.

“She missed the whole season of group races so to have her back in form again for another go at the big ones is great.”

“We’ve got to see how she pulls up but we’ve got nationals in mind and there’s a race at Ipswich as well we’ve got our eye on.”

The slickest and arguably the most impressive run of the night came from Darren Russell’s bitch Snug, which outdid the likes of dual group one winner Jury to win the best 8 in 29.71.

The greyhound had endured a run of poor form over the 520m at Albion, but a tactical move from Russell seemingly had her back to her best.

“A few months ago she’d been the quickest dog up here so I sent her to Melbourne where she did nothing down there, brought her back up here and she was out of sorts in her next three starts,” Russell said.

“So I said give her a little freshen up, put her in a weaker race at Ipswich to hopefully get her confidence up and that’s what happened.”

“That’s her time 29.7 and she brought her best tonight.”

Despite running the time of the night Russell said his bitch would not be contesting the Nationals, instead taking an alternative path.

“I’m not taking her to nationals, she’s gone to Melbourne a couple of times and done nothing,” he said.

“I’m going to take her to the Black Top at the Gardens, which is around the middle of next month.”

In the sole 710m race on the night in form Dream Blaster for Ray Burman finally broke through over the trip, the trainer weighing up whether to run his veteran stayer in the heats.

“I’ll have to have a look at the replay to see how he’s handled it, with the sectionals but to the eye he jumped and ran really well,” he said

“I’m on the fence with giving him a run in the nationals, we’ll see how he pulls up.”

Izy Gold caused a boil over in the Grade 5 final, getting up in the last stride at $26 on UBET fixed price in an unpredictable contest, while Loch Freddie for Tommy Tzouvelis produced a notable performance getting around the 520 in 29.82 for his first win at the track.