Mark Wilkes farewells big-time greyhound racing
IT could be a golden goodbye to big-time greyhound racing for Mark Wilkes - and he has earned two chances to sign-off in style.
Casino owner-trainer Wilkes has In The Picture and War Picture in contention for the Group 2 Ipswich Auction Series (520m) decider on Saturday night.
They are among what is likely to be the last kennel for Wilkes, who has trained intermittently for about 40 years but is planning to stop soon for health reasons.
War Picture (box eight) looks "perfectly" drawn in box eight for the $40,000-to-the-winner final but In the Picture ran a strong semi-final, leaving Wilkes to hedge his bets.
"There is not much between them," he said.
"The box draw suits War Picture but I would not write In The Picture off.
"All you can do is prepare them the best you can. The rest is up to the dogs.
"Who would I put my 20 bucks on? I'd have 10 on each."
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War Picture will likely start favourite for the final, which concludes a series featuring some of the most promising greyhounds from Queensland and northern NSW.
He has a great record drawn wide and won his heat and semi-final.
Newcomer In The Picture (box four) has drawn awkwardly, but finished as the fastest semi-finalist and seems to have good racing sense.
"War Picture has a perfect record from the outside boxes," Wilkes said.
"Even when he starts slowly he accelerates away from them.
"In The Picture has never had the ideal box draw but seems like he can handle the field.
"You can't be too confident (but) I expect them both to run decent races."
Wilkes said he is "90% sure" his current kennel will be his last.
"I will miss training but my health comes first," the 57-year-old said.
"I haven't had a holiday since 2007 - and that was to watch the Cox Plate (horse race) in Melbourne.
"It would be nice to finish with memories of a good win."