In-form trainers Ricky Martin and Robin Grubb have set the scene to what promises to be a memorable Launceston Mitsubishi Illingworth Classic final next week, after five heats were staged at the Luxbet Racing Centre on Monday night.
Seven of the eight finalists are trained in the north of the state while the Michael Stringer-trained Le Baz will be the only southern-prepared chaser joining a stellar field for the 26th running of the $15,000 age restricted classic.
Breeders Classic runner-up Fink Racer, prepared by Ricky Martin, produced a dazzling career best performance running 29.77 seconds storming home to beat Luke Roman and Hi Dixie.
The victory quickly surpassed the Robin Grubb-trained Silver Drone’s mantle as the fastest heat winner from earlier in the night, running 29.99 seconds.
Fink Racer, the $3.10 favourite, impressively reeled off fast splits of 4.98 and 17.61.
Rosevale-based trainer Ricky Martin was beaming after his charge’s performance.
“Right from when Sonia and I first started breaking in the St. Pierre litter, Woosha and Fink Racer have been the standouts,” Martin said.
“They are both extremely keen chasers and Woosha can fly the lids, once he is on the lure not many dogs can run him down”.
The win also resulted in a race-to-race double for the Martin team, as litter brother Woosha made full use of the inside box draw, leading all the way to a score a narrow victory by a half-length over Stylish Nic and Penny Pop in 29.90 seconds.
St. Leonards-based trainer Robin Grubb produced a top class training performance through the series, preparing the first three heat winners starting with Hello Diamond followed by Hello Nugget and Silver Drone.
Hello Diamond (Fabregas – Stylish Abbey) rattled home over the top of Adam’s Spot and Tom Tom Drum to score by a neck in the time of 30.33 seconds.
Trainer Robin Grubb was more than satisfied with the performances of the kennel.
“All three dogs have gone better tonight than I thought they ever would on this track, Hello Diamond was slow to begin but showed courage to run down the leader. Hello Nugget showed what he can do when luck goes his way. He began well from box five and never left Social Sally’s side until overpassing on the home turn. Silver Drone is a dog that uses all the room he can get and drawing box eight next week should suit him well”, Grubb said.