The semi-finals of the Group Two Laurels Classic take place on Sunday afternoon at Sandown. There was plenty of action in last week’s heats with Mepunga Mia emerging as the fastest heat winner after a smart 29.35 run. She will feature in the first semi. The second semi-final will see Oakvale Destiny and Lamia Bale go head-to-head in what is sure to be a hotly contested race.
Here’s a look at the chances in each semi-final.
Semi-Final One – Group Two Laurels – Race 5 at 3:29pm
There’s a bit of speed drawn in this race. Lady Ronray (3), Mepunga Mia (4) and Jewel Action (5) all led their heats last week, running fast early sections. Diva’s Shadow (8) also clocked a quick section before getting shuffled back to finsih third.
Mepunga Mia comes into this semi as the fastest heat winner. She stopped the clock at 29.35 in her 1 1/4 length win over Benta Bale. She has three wins at Sandown and just needs a repeat of last week’s effort to make the final.
Lady Ronray led for a long way last week and ended up getting run down by Mepunga Treasure and Weblec Rose to finish third, just one length from the winner. She is drawn well in box three and can improve.
Jewel Action (5) is an each way chance. She just keeps on improving at Sandown and is knocking on the door.
Ousai Bale (7) led all the way at odds of 30/1 in the second heat last week. She is not normally noted for her early speed and prior to that she had a run of outs recently, finishing no better than fourth in her last six starts. She went 5.09 early and was never headed to stop the clock at 29.66 in her first win at Sandown.
Come On Fantasy (2) has the same draw as last week. She ran on well behind Oakvale Destiny. She may struggle to keep up with the speed early.
If there’s some interference up front then West On Delly (6) and Julie Bale (7) will be looking to pounce.
Semi-Final Two – Group Two Laurels – Race 6 at 3:49pm
There is a great match-up here between Lamia Bale (5) and Oakvale Destiny (3). Lamia Bale has been in red-hot form. She has now won her last three in a row and is fresh off a win in the Group Three Sir John Dillon Memorial at Sandown on Thursday night. She won her heat of the Laurels in a personal best of 29.37 and led all the way from box one. It will be a commendable effort to make a consecutive Group final in the space of a week.
Oakvale Destiny strode away for a 4 1/4 length victory in her heat. She overcame her usual slow start and a few bumps to score in 29.52. She is yet to win from box three and will always need luck early but she has class and knows how to make a Group final as she has been there plenty of times.
Satsuki Bale (8) went 5.01 last week but was lucky to sneak into the semi’s, finishing fourth behind Pud. She has failed to rack up a win at Sandown after four attempts.
Weblec Rose (4) chased hard to run-down Lady Ronray last week but narrowly missed out on defeating kennel-mate Mepunga Treasure. She only has the one win to her credit but she looked good last week and could surprise.
Semi-Final Three – Group Two Laurels – Race 7 at 4:04pm
Weblec Belle (1) continued her good run of form to back up from a win in the Group 3 Brian Johhstone at Angle Park to secure a heat win last week. She sat behind early leader Jewel Action and pounced turning for home to win comfortably by two lengths in 29.40. She is undefeated from box one.
Cosmic Owl (2) was also a heat-winner in 29.64. She defetaed Dyna Nico by half a length. She doesn’t have a load of speed early but is strong. She won at odds of 21/1 last week so she is likely to be in the double figures again.
Kerrigan Bale (8) was mid-field early but managed to run into the placings, finishing third to Cosmic Owl. She has had just one start from box eight for a win. She really needs to get to the front to show her best.
Hashtag Selfie (3) chased gallantly for second behind Ousai Bale last week, finishing just over 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner. She had box eight on that occasion. She has drawn closer to the fence this week and has won from box three.
Semi-Final Four – Group Two Laurels – Race 8 at 4:19pm
The two Foot Luce sisters were drawn next to each other last week and they are drawn next to each other again in the semi-final. Footluce Diva (1) moves to box one this week. She found trouble from box three last week, finishing third to Ousai Bale. She has an outstanding record from box one, racking up four wins in the red stretch vest. Her best is 29.35 and she is drawn to replicate that.
Oakvale Flyer (2) finished fourth in her heat behind Ousai Bale. She has only missed a place at Sandown three times from 13 starts. She is capable of leading.
Sizey 31.5kg bitch Pud (8) showed she could handle a rise in class, clocking 29.61 in a very gutsy effort. Pud copped some interference rounding the first turn but was able to keep pushing through and find a position on the rails. She then proceeded to push up underneath the leaders and emerge a 1 3/4 length heat winner. This will be her first go from box eight and it will be interesting to see how she handles it.
Mepunga Treasure (4) emerged victorious last week in a strong display from box one in 29.52. She is only lightly raced and is yet to show early pace in her races. She may find trouble from the draw.
The first two place-getters from each heat will contest the final on 21 December (Sunday).