Butterwick trainer Michael Manuel was dreaming of a big payday with Chevy Royale in the inaugural Flight to the Phoenix Final (520m) at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Chevy Royale was second in semi-finals last week to earn a spot in the $25,000-to-the-winner decider, which offers the victor a place in the $750,000-to-the-winner The Phoenix at The Meadows.
A $9.50 chance in the Wentworth Park event from box seven, Chevy Royale is taking on a class field.
However, she showed early speed from box six last week to challenge for the lead before copping an early bump. She rallied late to hit the line hard and grab second behind Special Blend.
Chevy Royale has won twice from five starts in box seven but Manuel was wary of the rise in class.
"I was very pleased with the run last week," Manuel said.
"She just hasn't been able to lead cleanly at Wentworth Park, like she has at a couple of other tracks, and as a lot of them are, she's a lot better when she's on the bunny.
"Time-wise, I think she can run quicker but you've got to get the breaks in running to do that and she's going to need to do everything perfect on Saturday night.
"There's some really good dogs in it so again I'm going down there hopeful.
"She has a good record from out there in the seven but that's probably against a different grade of dog than she's in against tomorrow.
"Just going on the first splits from last week, she can be right up there, but the dog that ran the quickest has the one [Cop Magnet], so he's going to be hard to get around.
"But she's in there. You're not a chance if you're sitting at home.
"You dream about getting into races like this, so fingers crossed."
Manuel said Good Odds Cash ($2), Cop Magnet ($7) and Aston Barak ($9) were top chances in an open race.
A victory guarantees a payday of more than double the prizemoney on offer, given the huge stakes given to those in The Phoenix.
"It's a big race to win because fourth to eighth in the big final at The Meadows is $37,500," Manuel said.
"The GBOTA are putting up $5000 travelling money as well to go down, so if you win tomorrow night, it's a $67,500 win really. So there's a fair bit at stake."
The Hunter secured a second starter in the race when Crowdza Dazzled was scratched, giving the Darryl Thomas-trained Mr. Ticket a run.
Mr. Ticket, trained at Sawyers Gully, was third in his heat after fading late following a buffeting run near the lead. The first reserve comes into box two with the scratching and was a $4.40 second favourite with the TAB behind Good Odds Cash on Friday.
At The Gardens on Friday, the David Smith-trained Ice Cream Story took out the GRNSW Distance Series feature in her first start at the track.
It was part of a double for Smith after Calamity Ethics won the previous race.
The Gardens hosts a 10-race card from 7.16pm on Saturday night.
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