Two northern trainers appear set to regain the Waterloo Cup for the region at the Manukau Stadium tomorrow afternoon (race 10, 5:08pm) after the visiting champion chaser Little Mother had glided to victory in last year's edition over 527m.
Huntley trainer Denis Schofield has qualified three finalists, while Steve Clark will be bringing two greyhounds up from his Maramarua training base. Four qualifying heats were held at four different venues to decide the final field to contest the $20,000 group one race, which was first contested as a coursing event in 1878.
Schofield dominated the Auckland heat, where Lachlan's Cash got in the telling late bounds in leading home kennelmate Have A Yap.
At Cambridge, it was the Clark-trained Peking Tom who stormed home for his heat victory after railing underneath the Schofield-trained Benny Rox. Clark then trekked down to Wanganui, where he produced Thrilling Blitz to lead throughout when winning that heat.
If any greyhound deserves a group one victory, then it has to be Have A Yap, who over the past 15 months has dominated Auckland open-class 527m races. She heads into tomorrow's final with 37 track wins from her 54 races at the Manukau Stadium.
"She has peaked nicely for Sunday and she will deliver a strong race. I'm not worried about her draw [trap-six] as she has been there enough times before," said Schofield.
"I expect Benny Rox to receive a nice drag [from trap-five] into the race behind Have A Yap, while we needed an inside trap for Lachlan's Cash, which we got [two]. He's as strong as an ox and he won't flinch at the business end. All three of them are ready to deliver huge races."
Clark is pleased with Thrilling Blitz drawing out in eight, from where he is likely to attempt to sniff out the early race lead. "He is a dead straight chaser from the traps, so, hopefully, he will put himself into the race right from the jump."
Peking Tom is on track debut, although he has trialled stylishly at Manukau. He is likely to settle back in the field during the early rush before unleashing his potent finishing burst.
"I'm hoping he can find the rail during the early rush and from there he will push his way forward. Put it this way, there is nothing in this field that will finish stronger than him.
"Both of them have been full of themselves during the week," their trainer said.