By Isaac Murphy
The Eric Thomson Memorial Maiden has been the starting point for more than one champion over the years.
That is why the race was firmly in the cross hairs of Jemma Daley, who rolled out litter mates Hara’s Hunter, Hara’s Betty and Hara’s Rusty in last week’s heats.
It was a successful day for the young trainer: Betty winning her heat, Hunter running second and Rusty third.
The Barcia Bale/Hara’s Annie litter will always be close to Daley’s heart.
They were the last set of pups she worked on together with her mentor Michael Stephenson before his passing and they’re off to a good start.
“I was rapt to get Hara’s Hunter and Hara’s Betty through to the final and another one Hara’s Rusty just missed out,” Daley said.
“The Eric Thomson was clearly a target of ours to start the Barcia Bale/Hara’s Annie pups and they’ve all taken a really positive first step.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had to scratch Hara’s Betty from the final not wanting to risk a sore metacarpal, but I’m confident Hara’s Hunter will fly the flag.”
A two-pronged attack would have been nice for Thursday’s final, but Daley believes Hara’s Hunter is the right dog for the job.
“If I had to pick the best chance of the three it’d be Hara’s Hunter, so I’m glad he’s the one representing the kennel,” she said.
“I gave him a box-to-box a week before the heats, and he went 5.5 seconds early and when he came up with box one, we thought he’d be a pretty good thing.
“In the end he got caught in the last stride, but I was still more than happy with the effort because it looked like he’d banged his head in the boxes and only came out in 5.59 seconds, so he’ll show natural improvement.”
The pup switches from box one to box seven this week, but speed travels and Daley is assured Hunter will burn early.
“I definitely think he’s the leader of the race, but he’s going to have to put a good break in them down the back especially if the Burman’s dog Stanton Warrior is chasing us,” Daley said.
“We can’t match him on the clock (29.85) at this stage, but I’m confident our early pace will hold up and quite often in maiden finals it can get a bit messy behind.
“He’s had a really good week at home doing everything I’ve asked of him and I’m sure you’ll be seeing a stronger dog home this week.”