Exceptional heats in tribute series to beloved allrounder
COL Harris was a titan of the Ipswich greyhound racing fraternity, as a trainer, friend and beloved figure.
So it is only fitting his legacy lives on in the Col Harris Gold Sovereign, a race reserved for zero to four win greyhounds looking to make the leap to the staying ranks.
The series is one of a kind in Queensland providing a pathway you won't find anywhere else.
Trainers responded in force for the 2020 edition with three full eight dog exceptional heats last Saturday night deciding who will fight it out for the title this weekend.
Heat one winner - Hara's Penny for trainer Jemma Daley - is the epitome of what the series is about.
Daley had been thinking about stepping the multiple Ipswich 500 metre winner up in distance for some time but wanted to avoid the older dogs at Albion Park on Mondays or Ipswich on Saturday nights.
It was a faultless display on debut over the 630 metres by the well-bred daughter of Fernando Bale and Hara's Annie who was well supported in the market and barely put a paw wrong.
Hara's Penny handled the corner start and box seven with ease to sit second behind Zipping Blondie around the first bend.
Those who backed the favourite Zipping Blondie could have been forgiven for thinking Barry Kitchener's locally trained commodity was home early, when the usual back marker drove through to lead from a start, she'd won multiple races from.
It was Hara's Penny though who turned on the gas first time past the post taking up the running and scooting a couple of lengths clear.
Zipping Blondie came again down the back but Hara's Penny was having nothing of it kicking again late to win by a neat two lengths in 37.51.
Zipping Blondie will get another crack at Hara's Penny in the final running second while Darren Johnstone's Blame Brendan qualified as one of two fastest thirds.
Favourite takes charge
IN heat two, one of the series favourites emerged in Allan Oshyer's Mahogany Row.
Mahagonay Row is a young stayer who had already won two races in good time at the track and trip going on to race in the Group One Queensland Cup Final at Albion Park later in the winter.
It was a significant class drop for the dog and he duly went up $1.90.
All in all, the race was a fairly easy watch for favourite backers as the two-year-old sat just behind the speed set by Stellar Stone and Aristocratic Gal, before getting into his work down the back railing hard underneath the leading pair.
It was a dominant display in the end as he put up nearly five lengths in the run to the line.
His staying pedigree over the 700 metres came to the fore in the 37.45 win, just .01 outside his personal best.
If he gets an inside draw next run and a chance to rail the whole way around, expect a time very hard to beat.
Jamie Hosking's Stellar Stone hung on for second in her first attempt over the journey. She showed great box manners to lead from the seven and will be sweating on improvement late to go with her next start.
Enthralling heat battle
HEAT three may have been the slowest on the clock with Darren Russell's Javens scoring in 37.77.
However, the race was enthralling. Russell's bitch set the pace for much of the run before Roan Enright's Blue Bandit came storming home to issue a challenge just missing by a length but looking a serious danger in the final.
It was on early with Brent Kline's chaser Wynburn Rambo setting a first sectional record coming out humming going 10.99 to the first mark.
Russell's Javens, who is known as a strong 500 metre bitch, showed she had what it took to cut it over the 630 metres getting across from the seven to take the lead away from Wynburn Rambo. She looked like she was going to win comfortably before Blue Bandit's late launch.
Roan Enright's dog went up a warm favourite in the checks on the back of five runs over the middle distance including a Monday night win in tougher grade at Albion Park where he led throughout for the landmark victory.
Blue Bandit's chances looked up in smoke for most of the run. He was beaten for pace early drifting back to fifth first time past the post and was bothered down the back and he tried to improve him position on the rail.
The run didn't open up until the last 50 metres when he can hurtling between dogs to grab second, give him an extra ten metres and he would have run over the top as he charged into the catching pen.
The heat battles set up an enthralling final on Saturday night.
It's the early speed of Hara's Penny and Javens against the staying prowess of Mahogany Row and Blue Bandit.
Whoever wins is going to earn it and expect a handful of dogs in the field to go on to bigger and better things over the staying trips in the near future.
Fire Drill the real deal for Enright
ROAN Enright enjoyed success on Saturday night's card before Blue Bandit's Col Harris qualification.
Litter brother Fire Drill lit it up over the 500 metres beating Tony Brett's super talent Valentino Fox by a nose in a stirring fourth/fifth grade contest.
Better known for his work over the middle-distance at Albion Park and 630 metre trip at Ipswich, Fire Drill was left without a race over the distance. His seven wins put him out of contention for the Col Harris.
Fire Drill came up with box one for the 500 metre contest but was still up against it with Valentino Fox in the field the swift beginner a recent winner at Albion Park cracking the 30 seconds, subsequently going up a $2 favourite from a suitable box six draw.
As expected Fire Drill was headed by the hot pot early who put up a few lengths on him as he balanced up around the first turn. But just as he'd done in a lot of his 431 metre races the dog used the long back straight to power into the race looming up alongside the leader at the home turn, the two seemingly hit it together to the naked eye the judge finding a small margin for Fire Drill on the outside.
If the way the dog went about it wasn't enough for Enright, Fire Drill also put a 30.43 time on the board. That's low flying by anyone's standards over the trip at Ipswich.
Enright is seemingly spoiled for choice with the My Bro Fabio/Hannah Marie brothers who both possess a potent mix of early speed, mid-race acceleration and closing strength.
At two and a half years of age, they are just coming into their prime.