ONE of the stars of tonight’s Warrnambool Cup heats — Paw Licking — was late yesterday ruled out with injury, throwing the race wide open.
Paw Licking’s Pearcedale trainer Kel Greenough yesterday revealed his plans of adding the Warrnambool Cup to the dog’s impressive record were dashed after pulling up sore from Sunday’s Bendigo Cup win.
“I’m sure there will be some great racing but unfortunately we won’t be making the trip,” Greenough said.
“There was a lot of push and shove and he pulled up very sore.”
Greenough said the timing of the two group 2 races — just three days apart — had made it hard for him and his charge.
With many of the Bendigo Cup runners nominating for tonight’s heats at Wannon Park, Paw Licking was expected to be the one to beat.
But his withdrawal opens the door for the Clyde-based dog Walk Hard. Trained by Nicole McRae, Walk Hard set a new 450-metre track record in the Warrnambool Cup Prelude on March 3.
With McRae and Walk Hard bypassing Bendigo, they should be primed to improve on their impressive 20 wins and 13 placings from 41 starts, running in tonight’s third heat of the cup.
Bendigo Cup runner-up Deadly Vane backs up in heat four from the Lara kennels of Brooke Ennis.
The five cup heats are part of a big night’s racing with the semi-finals of the Macey’s Bistro Classic also scheduled ahead of next Wednesday night’s finale for both events.
Favourite for the Classic, Phenomenal, set a new track record last week and looks well-placed in the first semi-final at 7.18pm.
Warrnambool Greyhound Racing Club manager Mick Cottee said the line-up was impressive.
“For the pure racing enthusiasts, they will love it,” Cottee said.
“It’s all the best dogs around. It is the best night’s racing of the year. They are all racing to get into the big races next week and to have all the quality is great.”
Cottee said the spacing of the Bendigo and Warrnambool cups on this year’s calendar had been compacted because of Easter.
He said Bendigo was preparing to move its cup to June or July next year, alleviating the issue for future years.
Warrnambool was planning to up the prizemoney for its cup in coming years, he said.