THE best maiden dogs in the state continue to travel on all roads that lead to Bendigo at Easter, and this year is no different.
The Jarrod Larkin Gold Rush Maiden has been the feature event of Bendigo's Gold Rush Carnival since the inaugural running all the way back in 2005.
Thursday saw four of the seven heats run and Friday's race meeting saw the remaining three run where potential superstars were unveiled.
Racetrack whispers have been gathering momentum regarding the trial exploits of several youngsters drawn in the heats and the whispers were confirmed in the opening round of the $10,000 to the winner series.
The series was opened up in fine style by the Graeme Jose-trained Honestly Two who impressed in a brilliant 23.802 heat to lock in the first semi final spot defeating race favourite Soda Apache.
Heat two saw debutant Unleash Collinda, a littermate to boom sprinter Mr Audacious, sent to the boxes a short priced favourite for Jason Thompson and he led from box rise to hold off a gallant I'm Talking and the unlucky Glittering Mia in 23.897.
Punters determined the third heat to be a match race between Harry Manolitsis' Madigan from box 1 and Fire Hose for Sale-based Chris Tilley and they were right.
Fire Hose flew out and sped across from the outside to lead before Madigan charged along the inside to just miss with a late dive on the line and go down by a narrow margin in 23.758.
With the opening three heats setting a cracking pace, it was going to a brilliant performance to better the time standard thus far but that is exactly what Brad Mayo did.
The Anthony Azzopardi-trained sprinter posted a day one heats best time of 23.709 in an effortless victory.
While the first four heats on day one left an impression there was an air of expectation on day two with rumours the Greenough kennel had two exciting prospects to debut in the series along with other talented youngsters on the rise.
The Greenough kennel did not disappoint. First up was Aston Kennett from the rails alley in the opening race.
The debutant began best and carved out terrific sections to stop the clock at 23.600 with almost six lengths up his sleeve on the line.
The second of the Greenough runners was Aston Exceed, a half brother to recently retired superstar Aston Rupee, by Fernando Bale.
Aston Exceed exploded from the boxes to clock a breathtaking 6.39 first section (record 6.35) en route to a 23.611 heat win over a gallant High Tribe Rico.
Such was the quality of the heat that the third placegetter, Amron Dan, managed to go under the 24 second barrier.
The slowest of the heats was Adele Powell's Here Comes Lenny, who overcame a slow start to salute in a handy 24.162.
Three semi finals of the Jarrod Larkin Concreting Gold Rush Maiden will be held on Wednesday, April 13, with the rich $10,000 to the winner final to be held on Easter Sunday as part of the big finals day and family fun day at the Bendigo greyhounds.
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