Yass greyhound Slamming Thunder (‘Thunder’) came home fifth at the final of the Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park on Saturday, April 15. The strong performance came after advancing through the heats and semi-finals against a tough field.
The race, which awards $250,000 to the winner, is NSW’s richest race of the year and one of Australia’s most lucrative races. It is run over three weeks: heats, semi-finals and the final.
Thunder ran the race of his life in the semi-final to qualify as runner-up. He now has the record of 12 wins and 21 minor placings from 49 starts.
In the semi-final, he produced a strong time of 29.68. “His run in the semi was exceptional, the third-fastest qualifier,” trainer Neil Staines said.
Similarly, Stuart Turner from Greyhound Racing NSW said Thunder’s record was “pretty consistent”.
Despite being drawn for box five, which was considered as the trickiest box from which to win, Staines was happy with the result.
“We were optimistic in box five, but still needed a lot of luck. His previous week, he went right through the heats and semi and got into finals. While we ran fifth, we were beaten by only a third of a body length,” he said.
Staines has had Thunder in training for the past two years. He said the preparations leading into the competition were strong.
“I’ve had him when he was about 14 months. We’ve won a lot of good races over the years – in Bathurst, Orange and Wagga – but this is by the far the biggest. Every trainer dreams to have an Easter Egg run,” he said.
Reaching a Golden Easter Egg final is a great achievement, especially since Staines has been training full-time for only six years after a life as a shearer. He also turns 50 in June so this performance was a nice pre-birthday present.
Looking to the future, Thunder will soon compete at another big race: Dubbo Gold Cup heats on April 21. This is worth $10,000 to the winner and is a strong series featuring several of NSW’s best greyhounds.
“Neil has had great success with country cups over the years and I would say Slamming Thunder has a decent chance,” Turner said.