NSW-owned and trained greyhounds stole the show at Sandown Park on Thursday with Dolly Mac and Double Back among the most impressive heat winners of the 2019 Launching Pad series.
Semi-finals of the 515m Launching Pad, a $2000 sweepstake entry event, will be held on Thursday with the $150,000 to the winner final a week later.
Dolly Mac, trained at Bacchus Marsh by ex-Sydneysider Anthony Azzopardi, is raced by Cessnock breeder Susan McCann and is a litter sister to Bulli Gold Cup winner Pindari Express.
Dolly Mac's 29.68sec victory in her heat of the Launching Pad took her record to six wins from seven starts.
"She is unlucky not to be undefeated,'' Azzopardi said.
"Dolly Mac won her first five races and was a half-length in front at her sixth start, at The Meadows on December 15, when the dog inside her veered off the track and collided with her.
"Due to that incident Dolly Mac fractured a scapula, a bone in her shoulder, and Thursday night's Launching Pad heat was her first start since resuming.''
Double Back, trained in Sydney by Peter Lagogiane for local owners Ray Grech and Steve Lord, took his record to five wins from nine starts with his determined Launching Pad heat win in 29.66sec.
Usually a fast beginner, Double Back was forced to come from third at the first turn to hit the front in the middle stages before hanging on grimly to score.
Among the greyhounds in his wake was hot favourite Flynn, widely regarded as the most exciting up-and-coming sprinter in Melbourne.
If Double Back makes the April 18 final he will give trainer Lagogiane a crack at winning a second successive Launching Pad, as the Sydney trainer took out last year's big race with Beast Unleashed (pictured after winning this year's Gosford Cup).
IT would be hard to find more consistent sprinters than Hardaway Harada and Scientific Man, who took out Thursday's heats of the 400m Maitland Gold Collar.
Hardaway Harada led throughout in 22.28sec while Scientific Man got up in the last stride to run down Queenslander All About Tiger in 22.35sec.
The Ron Marsden-trained Hardaway Harada took his record to 18 wins and 10 placings from 30 starts, while the Mark Wilcox-trained Scientific Man has also been unplaced only twice, with his tally standing at 17 wins and eight placings from 27 races.
Hardaway Harada and Scientific Man were also bred, and are owned, by their Sydney trainers.
"The box draw will play a big part in the outcome of Thursday's final,'' Hardaway Harada's trainer Ron Marsden said.
"If my dog draws box one he will be awfully hard to beat.
"He won his heat in a shade faster time than Scientific Man, but All About Tiger, who made the pace in Scientific Man's heat, recorded a slightly quicker early split than Hardaway Harada.''
Marsden will have Cee Jay's Boy, a winner of 10 from 18 starts and a litter brother to Hardaway Harada, is Wednesday night's group 3 New Sensation heats at WP.
"I trialled Cee Jay's Boy over 472m at Bulli on Friday and he clocked good first and second splits but got a bit tired, so I am glad I gave him that solid hit-out before he has to tackle 520m at Wenty on Wednesday,'' Marsden said.