Tricky act to iden­tify Magic Maiden tal­ent

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - JEFF COLLERSON

NSW’s most tal­ented ju­ve­niles — most un­raced — are be­ing groomed for Wed­nes­day week’s heats of the Lad­brokes Magic Maiden, grey­hound rac­ing’s equiv­a­lent of thor­ough­breds’ Golden Slip­per.

Heats over 520m at Went­worth Park are on March 14 with semi­fi­nals a week later and the $25,000to-the-win­ner fi­nal on March 31.

Early favourite is Ritza Mil­lie, a daugh­ter of her trainer Mark Gatt’s for­mer cham­pion Ritza Hat­tie — who earned more than $240,000 af­ter win­ning the Group 2 Woy Woy Poul­try Gold Cup at Gos­ford and Sandown Lau­rels along with the Group 3 Nowra Puppy Clas­sic and The Am­brosoli at Went­worth Park.

Ritza Mil­lie made her first pub­lic ap­pear­ance on Fe­bru­ary 20, lead­ing through­out to win a Went­worth Park trial in the top-grade time of 30.09. She led all the way again to take out a sim­i­lar trial at Went­worth Park last Wed­nes­day in 30.10.

“We had ex­pected her to im­prove on Wed­nes­day so that was a bit dis­ap­point­ing, but she still won the trial and showed good early dash,’’ Gatt’s brother and ken­nel fore­man Daniel Gatt said.

Wed­nes­day’s other Went­worth Park trial win­ner was Taken King, from the pow­er­ful Jodie Lord ken­nels. Taken King came from sec­ond early to beat his ken­nel­mate Tor­nado Al­ley by just over three lengths in 30.15.

Win­lock Huddy, another of Lord’s Magic Maiden hope­fuls, was an un­lucky sec­ond, beaten seven lengths, be­hind Ritza Mil­lie.

“My three young­sters are ex­cit­ing prospects,’’ Lord said. “When they went round at Went­worth Park last week they were hav­ing their first tests over 520m so they will im­prove for sure.’’

Western dis­tricts trainer Dennis Barnes, rarely without a strong can­di­date in ma­jor maiden events, will have four un­raced but tal­ented pup­pies in the Magic Maiden heats.

Barnes will nom­i­nate Nan­gar Jill, who de­feated ken­nel­mates Nan­gar Kash and Nan­gar Jack in a siz­zling 25.65 per­for­mance trial over 450m at Bathurst late last month. He will also en­ter Nan­gar Gift, who led through­out in a 450m Bathurst trial on Fe­bru­ary 19 in a slick 25.83.

“I have had sev­eral placeget­ters in pre­vi­ous Magic Maid­ens but have not won it so this is a race I would dearly love to land,’’ Barnes said.

“Only ques­tion mark over my quar­tet is whether they will run a strong 520m but I am fairly cer­tain the ex­tra 70m over their Bathurst hit-outs won’t be a prob­lem.’’

Brad Canty, among NSW’s most suc­cess­ful own­ers, will be rep­re­sented by Steel­city Box­ing and the un­raced Mouse Run­ner in the Magic Maiden se­ries.

“Mouse Run­ner clocked a very quick 24.99 in a 450m per­for­mance trial at Maitland on Fe­bru­ary 24 and his trainer, Dar­ryl Thomas, has a big opin­ion of him,’’ Canty said.

“His ken­nel­mate Steel­city Box­ing was never out of trou­ble when sev­enth as $1.80 favourite at his race de­but at Went­worth Park on Jan­uary 10 but he is fly­ing in tri­als.

“Dar­ryl has been sav­ing Steel­city Box­ing for the Magic Maiden heats.’’

Steve Sing, who trains two greyhounds from his Kog­a­rah back­yard while jug­gling work as an elec­tric­ity sup­plier, is set­ting Let’s Be Se­ri­ous for the Magic Maiden.

Let’s Be Se­ri­ous won a trial at Went­worth Park on Fe­bru­ary 20 in a nippy 30.25 be­fore fin­ish­ing third in Ritza Mil­lie’s trial last week.

“I trained Black Af­fair, the mother of Let’s Be Se­ri­ous, to win races at Wenty Park, but none were as im­por­tant as the Magic Maiden,’’ Sing said.

Shoot­ers Hill came from a long last to win his first Went­worth Park trial in a smart 30.17 last month but trainer Kerry Dry­nan was un­sure whether to en­ter her young­ster.

“Shoot­ers Hill has abil­ity but might be too slow early for a race like the Magic Maiden,’’ she said.

Blitz­ing Lass on her way to win­ning the 2017 Magic Maiden at Went­worth Park.

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