Dakota Team Looking To Shine In Champion Puppy Heats

Racing News

Feature racing returns to Angle Park on Thursday night, with two heats of the 2024 Champion Puppy series to be held. 

Each year this series is held for chasers that are born after July 1st, effectively meaning that they are under two years old. Past winners of the race include Footrot Fender (2023), Monique Keeping (2022) and Coorong Nugget (2020).

Both heats on Thursday look quite strong, with a promising bunch of youngsters engaged in the series for this year. Kerry Stagg will bring a strong pair on Thursday, with littermates Dakota Ava and Dakota Rylen in the heats, with both coming out of the Shima Shine x Dakota Roxy (October 22’) litter. 

Dakota Ava has made a highly promising start to her career having won four of her five career starts, which includes two brilliant 530m victories, running a fast 30.64 and 30.55 on those respective occasions. The blue bitch has proven herself to be a very reliable beginner that is blessed with brilliant early pace, which Stagg concedes that he saw right from the beginning.

“The first time we ever let her go she showed that she could run a bit and we’ve just brought her along slowly. She’s still a work in progress but she’s going really well, she had a couple of little injury problems there for a while but we seem to have got over them.” said Stagg

“We always thought they would all be quite strong, they’ve taken a bit to get there but they are only babies still, so I think she (Dakota Ava) should break the ‘13’ run home, but hopefully she will get stronger and stronger, she’s just a work in progress at the end of the day and she could still lose a bit of weight through racing I would say, but we think she should end up getting a strong ‘500’.”

Dakota Ava has drawn box eight in the first heat and she will be hoping to use her early speed and get over without trouble. With a good start, Stagg is confident that she can work to the front early.

“She’s just got to step, I think, if she can step and hold the lead, she should be able to show some good pace. She’s going to have to step though and not miss it a bit.” said Stagg

The brother Dakota Rylen has also made a strong start to his career, winning his first two starts over the short distance in fast time, before putting together a couple of placings over the 530m distance in recent times. Stagg believes that he still has a lot to learn, despite having shown some ability so far.

“He’s more of a work in progress, he’s a big dog, he’s probably the biggest of the litter. He’s still green and does a few things wrong, he’s definitely a work in progress, there's a lot more to come from him. I think he’s going to get there, he just needs a bit more time.” said Stagg

“He’s not as fast as the bitch (Dakota Ava) at this stage, like I said, he’s a big dog, he’s a 36kg dog and he’s still growing into his body and learning the caper.”

Dakota Rylen has drawn box two in the second heat and he will be looking to use his speed to make the most of the inside draw. 

“He probably likes it a bit out wide at the moment, he has gone quick for the first 300-400 in his trials, but in his races he hasn’t seemed to have got there. Box two, he might want to get off going into the first corner but hopefully he jumps, if he jumps and holds his line then he should be up there a bit better.” Said Stagg

Amongst the heats, their will be another three from this Shima Shine x Dakota Roxy litter, with the Colin Simes trained Dakota Olivia, Dakota Shine and Josie Dakota all set to line up. It was a matter of circumstance that saw Simes and Stagg both end up with chasers from this litter and whilst they all have strong chances in the series, Stagg rates two of them a better chance than the others. 

“Well I train out of Colin’s place, he’s got four kennels and I’ve got four kennels. I whelped the litter there and we reared them there and then we broke them all in together. They are all owned by the same people.” said Stagg

“I would say Josie Dakota and (Dakota) Ava at this stage (as the best chances in the series)”

Racing will start at 6:40pm local time.

Best Bets: 
Where’s Poppy (Race 7, Number 1)
Amron Dan (Race 12, Number 1)