On Thursday night at Addington Raceway, some of the fastest restricted age greyhounds from around the country will take their places in the Group 1 2022 Suck It Up Ltd New Zealand Breeders Stakes.
And prominent Canterbury trainers Jean and Dave Fahey have a strong hand in the field, with four runners in the $30,000 feature.
Opawa Superstar is priced up as the $2.70 favourite with TAB NZ and has come up with Box 3. The talented youngster is aptly named, having already won 14 races from 20 starts – and he doesn't turn two for another month.
He was sent out paying $1.30 in last week's heat, but he only made a fair beginning off Box 6 and didn't get all favours in transit. He stormed home to finish second, a length astern of his kennelmate, Milky Tea.
"I think the draw's much better for him this week," says Dave Fahey. "He did have a few minor niggles over the last few weeks, but he's 100 per cent now."
Milky Tea, who was victorious in last week's heat when leading throughout in 30.14, will jump from Box 6 on Thursday night, and Fahey says she needs to lead.
"She jumps really well. She hangs off a wee bit, but she should beat the 7 (Goldstar Butters) and the 8 (Nighthawk Jet) out and find a reasonably nice spot near the lead and stay out of trouble."
Drawn alongside Milky Tea in Box 5, will be Opawa Chrissy, who is currently second favourite with TAB NZ ($3.20). She has won her past two races at Addington, and clocked 30.02 in winning her heat last week off Box 1.
While Box 5 isn't ideal for her in the final, she does have the box speed to overcome the tricky draw.
"She begins pretty good, but she is fairly one-paced all the way," says Fahey. "If she can get handy on the rail, she is the strongest of our ones in the field."
Rounding out the Fahey quartet is Chatty Mavis, the youngest runner in the field. The daughter of Barcia Bale and Isavana led the chase behind Charlotte Lu in her heat last week, and is putting together a strong record in her short career so far.
"She's got blistering early pace, but so has Charlotte Lu! I think Chatty Mavis should be first out of the boxes; it's whether she can get clear and whether there's trouble – you never know.
"Opawa Superstar has to be our best chance in the field, but I think that Charlotte Lu is going to be hard to beat if she gets to the front."
Of their remaining runners on the 12-race programme, Fahey considers Opawa Wayne a winning hope in Race 7, following an unlucky sixth last week.