Some of the nation’s best stayers converge on the Harbour City this Saturday night where they will contest two heats of the group three Schweppes Summer Cup at Wentworth Park. Next week’s final will be worth $25,000 to the winner and some quality conveyances have assembled for a shot at the prize. The first four dogs from each heat will earn a berth in the final.
The race was first conducted at Harold Park in 1965 and moved to the Glebe circuit in 1992. The honour roll for the event includes some of the greats in Travel Rev, National Lass and Trojan Tears. Two years ago the race was won by Zipping Lad, while last year’s winner Bell Haven will contest heat one of the event this weekend in a bid to defend her title.
Race 6 – Schweppes Summer Cup Heat 1 – 720m – 9:15pm
Heat one looks an absolute bottler and worthy of a Group 1 final billing on its own, let alone a Group 3 heat. The race includes recent Sydney Cup winner and Bold Trease runner up Lucy Wires, as well as last year’s Summer Cup winner Bell Haven. Add to that the National Distance Champion Smart Valentino and Sydney Cup runner up Infinite Wish and it is as good a staying race as you are likely to find.
The Robbie Britton trained Lucy Wires will occupy box one in this heat. She went within a whisker of taking out the Bold Trease at Sandown a little over a week ago and is racing in great heart. The daughter of Flying Penske and Okgo Box To Wire has shown that she can handle the circuit after she came from a mile back to land the Sydney Cup here in October. If there is a worry it is the fact that she will need a little bit of luck in the running if she gets that far back again. But she is all class and looks well boxed given the fact that she is undefeated from the red box in two outings.
In box three is the reigning National Distance Champion, Smart Valentino. The son of Where’s Pedro and Smart Betsy sizzled around Wentworth Park three starts back in 41.88, just a length outside of Miata’s track record. If he can replicate that sort of sizzling run then he will progress to the final with consummate ease.
Boxed ideally out wide is the current Summer Cup Champion Bell Haven for Ted Medhurst. This grand old stager suffered some terrible interference in her heat of the Bold Trease when she looked destined to win. She loves Wenty and loves box eight with an imposing record of four wins from six attempts out of the pink alley. This race looks custom made for her.
Of the others, Infinite Wish (Box 4) is not without a hope; she led till the final stride here in the Sydney Cup Final and grows an extra leg at Wentworth Park. She is a knockout chance at around the 15/1 quote. Dyna Werribee (Box 2) has run some very smart times in Victoria and could well land in a handy spot early on the rails. If she can handle the track at her first look she could be thereabouts.
Trainer of Bell Haven – “The two other dogs in the race (Lucy Wires and Smart Valentino) are bloody good dogs but she’s fit and healthy and she’s got a good draw and we’re confident that she’ll show up pretty good.”
Trainer of Lucy Wires – “This is a tough heat but I do think that if she can position herself somewhere in the race rather than last then she will be very, very hard to beat. In saying that, the main aim is to get into the final so I’m hoping she runs in the first four. She just lacks that bit of early zip and tends to get swallowed up a little on the first turn, but if she can have some early luck then she’s ok after that and once they open up a bit she’ll start to wind up. She came from a long, long way back to win the Sydney Cup but you don’t want your heart in your mouth like that, I’d hope she’s a little bit closer.”
Commenting on Infinite Wish – “We are bringing my brothers dog up too and if you go back to the Sydney Cup she led right until the last stride and all those same dogs are in it. So if she leads like that she’s going to be in the race. She mightn’t have performed as well since then but if you go by her Sydney Form, it’s been pretty good.”
Kennel Representative for Dyna Werribee – “She has drawn a tough race and hasn’t had a look at the track so it’s going to be tough for her. We are just hoping for a bit of luck and to qualify by running in the top four. I think she will improve for the final.”
Race 7 – Schweppes Summer Cup Heat 2 – 720m – 9:35pm
The second heat originally only featured seven dogs but has already been reduced to six with the early scratching of Suits Us who looked a chance in the event. This looks as though it may well be fought out by the outside division of the field with the widest three runners possessing more than their share of ability.
Victorian mentor Steve Collins has his second runner for the night, Dyna Willow, in box six for this heat. This daughter of Collision and Turanza Bale sizzled around Sandown last week in 42.07. This is her first look at the track but, with a bit of luck, she should be positioned handily early on. Then it will come down to how she handles the track. She definitely looks capable of progressing to next week’s final.
Jodie Lord prepares the talented chaser Cawbourne Looney who will start from box seven, very probably at an odds on quote. The daughter of Trewly Special and Book Of Days loves this trip at Wenty and has landed a staggering 7 from 13 over this journey with a personal best of 41.92. If there’s any slight query it may be the wide draw, but in the smaller field she should be able to overcome it. She has won four of her last five and has been raced sparingly, with a fortnight off between each of her last three runs, and is definitely the one to beat.
Occupying the pink alley is the Robert Mumford trained Set To Shine. This daughter of Mandagery Man and Princess Tayah has been a model of consistency over this track and trip, winning four and being placed in a further three from just nine attempts here. She recorded a career best 42.25 here two starts back before finishing last in a heat of the Bold Trease at Sandown. She looks good enough to progress into next week’s final.
Of the others My Friend Mitch (Box 3) could go close to finding the front early, but will need to improve on his best of 42.80 to be a winning hope. Seven Straight (Box 1) is well travelled and has performed well at Wentworth Park at his two attempts. He should land on the speed and keep his opponents honest.
Kennel Representative for Dyna Willow – “I think she (Dyna Willow) is our better hope of the two. If she can get over from the bad box and handle the track, I give her a chance.”