FOLIO Bale will be the greyhound to beat in next week’s Group 1 Sapphire Crown final (515m) after a scintillating effort in her qualifier on Thursday night.
Stepping from box one in the first of four heats, the Andrea Dailly-trained bitch rolled straight to the early lead, clocking sectionals of 5.07 and 18.78 en route to scoring by 1.76 lengths in 29.31.
By Taylors Sky out of Zambola Bale, the win made it nine from 40 for the red brindle bitch, lowering her previous personal best of 29.38 at Sandown Park which was set in March.
Nymeria ran a very honest race for Brooke Ennis, with her second placing securing her a start in the $100,000 to the winner final.
Outside Pass started as the $2.10 favourite in the second heat, aiming to make it back-to-back wins for the red rug. The black chaser came into the series on the back of a last start second in the Group 3 Bill Collins Speed Star, however the classy Queenslander was poorly away and found plenty of interference.
Left out in front was Mepunga Fame which had begun swiftly from box two. Taking advantage of the congestion behind her, the white and black bitch hit the accelerator and was too good on the night, charging to the line 3.36 lengths clear in 29.53.
The judge couldn’t split the placings for second, with a dead heat declared between Skate Thin Ice and Group 1 National Futurity winner Cash In Motion.
The third heat was a wide open event, with six of the eight runners starting under double figure odds. After missing the kick, race favourite Alpha Demeter was out of play, with first reserve Narralee winning the start and pushing up to assume the lead from box eight.
Through the pen and the front runner was tackled on the outside by Steel The Best, with the pair going stride for stride until Narralee was able to push up along the fence coming off the back, kicking away from her rivals in the run into the home straight.
NSW campaigner Star Torana began running on well in the closing stages from box one, but the race was done and dusted as Narralee strode to the line 1.53 lengths in front in 29.56.
The fourth and final heat was another competitive affair, with the classy Shared Equity starting the deserved $2.50 favourite from box six. When the lids flew open, the regally bred daughter of Brett Lee and West On Bluebird exploded from the traps, clocking a fast 4.97 to the first mark.
Through the pen Shared Equity got right off the track which allowed the second favourite, It’s All Talk, to rail through and grab the lead heading down the back. However, it wasn’t to be for long, with Shared Equity slipping into top gear once again, circling the leader on the home turn and racing away to win in a moderate 29.64.
It’s All Talk stuck on to run second, with the Angela Galea-trained bitch to start as first reserve in the final. With first and second from each heat meant to go through to the decider, the final field was thrown out of whack when Cash In Motion and Skate Thin Ice dead heated for second in heat two.
As both of those greyhounds clocked a faster overall time (29.76) than It’s All Talk (29.77), they were both elevated into the final eight, with It’s All Talk slipping back to first reserve.
Group 1 Sapphire Crown – box draw
Box One – Folio Bale
Box Two – Narralee
Box Three – Skate Thin Ice
Box Four – Mepunga Fame
Box Five – Cash In Motion
Box Six – Nymeria
Box Seven – Star Torana
Box Eight – Shared Equity
1st Res – It’s All Talk
2nd Res – Moonlit Wings