Defending champion Aston Duke, track record holder Pindari Express and Paws Of Thunder winner Buck’s Future will headline the heats of this year’s group 2 Maitland Gold Cup on Thursday afternoon.

With five heats set to run on the 450m event on Thursday evening, the fields will feature some of the best quality greyhounds currently running around.

Featuring dogs from here in New South Wales and a number of other states, the Cup will carry a purse of $40,000 to the winner on Thursday, March 21.

Maitland Greyhound Manager Tony Edmunds said he was thrilled with the nominations for this year’s Cup and believes with the quality of greyhound on show, it really is anyone’s race.

“I was wrapped when we got five heats,” said Edmunds.

“We’ve got last year’s winner Aston Duke in Race 6, the track record holder Pindari Express in Race 8 and Good Odds Harada who won the Ladbrokes Future Stars here back in October in Race 1.”

One feature of this year’s Cup is the great mix of both local, regional and interstate greyhounds who will take part in Thursday’s heats. Edmunds said he purposely marketed the race with the intention of attracting the best possible fields.  

“We’ve promoted this race fairly heavily far and wide and I think that’s shown fairly clearly seeing as we have dogs from Queensland, dogs from Victoria making the trek. We’ve pulled together five really strong heats. It should be a good night.

“A lot of them come here and tell us we have the best one-turn track in Australia, so I’d like to believe that.

“Precious Sal from Darren Russell in Queensland is a track specialist and he’s been down here a few times who runs a sub-25. She’s Gifted was a local dog when Daryl Thomas had it (now Deborah Coleman) and it went close to the track record at Gosford in their Gold Cup in January and it knows the Maitland track too so it’ll be hard to beat.

With such a wide range of talented dogs across the five heats, Edmunds struggled to single out one greyhound he thought would dominate to lift the Cup and with some scintillating times being run at the Hunter Valley track of late, it really is anyone’s to win.

“I think the winner could come from any of those heats. I think the first heat especially is going to be a number of good dogs who won’t make it through.

 “We’ve got a good young curator in Luke Baker whose been turning out good tracks for the last two years and he’s got all new track records across a number of distances over the past 12 months.

“Pindari Express, who trialed here two Saturday’s ago didn’t go as fast as his track record, but his trial day was a pretty good run.

The fact too that we’ve had a few sub-25 runs here over the past few weeks tells me that when the good dogs come here, we’re going to see some good times on Thursday.

Edmunds did however indicate that local trainer Jason Mackay, trainer of the 2018 Maitland Gold Cup winner Aston Duke, was one to watch and believes on current form, he will have his current Cup holder in fine form come Thursday evening’s heats.

“There’s always a dark horse and I always say that Jason Mackay, who’s a local and knows the track, is an astute trainer and I think keep an eye on him.

“If he gets a dog into the final, he only needs the right box and his dogs are always prime to go. He’s got last year’s winner back again who trialed beautifully here in the free for all last week and ran second to Riley Tokaam.

Racing begins on Thursday afternoon at 3:42pm, with Heat 1 of the Cup (Race 2) run at 4:09pm.

Stay tuned this week to for all news, statistics and analysis on the 2019 Maitland Gold Cup Heats.