STAR Victorian sprinter Invictus Rapid will be the greyhound to beat in next week’s Group 2 Healesville Cup (350m) after a dominant heat victory up the straight on Sunday afternoon.
Trained by leading Victorian conditioner Jason Thompson, Invictus Rapid was only fairly away from box six and found bother in the early stages when attempting to cross down towards the fence behind front runners Quotation Mark (box eight) and Extradition (box seven).
Once he was able to find clear galloping room and get balanced up, the son of Cosmic Rumble and Miss Fiesty slipped into another gear, shooting through to assume the lead in the run to the line, scoring by three lengths in a fast 19.01.
The victory made it two from two up the straight track at Healesville for Invictus Rapid who also scored an impressive 19.04 win over the 350m trip on August 14.
A three-time group 1 finalist, the 34-kilogram chaser will be right in the mix when the lids fly open for the $47,000 to the winner decider next Sunday, with the 15-time winner coming up with an ideal draw in box two.
Invictus Rapid was one of seven heat winners on Sunday afternoon and, amazingly, all races were won within 0.28 of a second of each other.
The opening heat of the day saw consistent bitch It’s All Talk (box three) start as the favourite for Angela Galea, however when the lids flew open the classy sprinter was beaten for speed by Bear’s Gold (box four).
Despite a late challenge from Lorimer Lad (box six), Bear’s Gold had enough in the tank to find the line in front, recording a narrow 0.21 length win in 19.10.
Boom youngster Judicial Man (box five) was the greyhound to beat in the second heat, but from box five the pup got caught in traffic and never got in the race.
Instead taking up the early lead was Zambora Beau (box six), however it wasn’t to be for long, with Zipping Arnold (box one) using the rail to guide himself through the field, hitting the front and stretching out to win by just under four lengths in 19.11.
Grand campaigner Shared Bonus (box two) finished off well to grab second, with NSW visitor Chevy Prince (box seven) filling the trifecta back in third.
Moving onto the third heat and it was another tight finish, with Aussie Infrared (box three) jumping well to take the lead in the initial stages.
Once out in front the son of Bella Infrared and Ebby Miss struggled to maintain a straight line, allowing his rivals Bejay The Dejay (box five) and To The Galo’s (box four) to make up a stack of ground.
However, in the run to the post Aussie Infrared was able to maintain his lead, taking out the qualifier by 0.31 lengths in 19.25.
Formerly trained in NSW, Aussie Infrared has now won five from five since making the move to Victoria and he is capable of plenty of improvement heading into the decider, having recorded a slick 19.00 over the track and trip at Healesville on August 21.
Heat four was an exciting battle between classy greyhound Mystery Ride (box five) and youngster Haiyan (box eight), the latter going into the heat with just six starts to his name.
Mystery Ride jumped well from the centre box and rolled to the early lead, with Haiyan cruising up beside him to go stride for stride before hitting top gear and assuming the lead.
Late in the race Mystery Ride kicked back along the fence, but Haiyan was able to hold on to score by half a length in a respectable 19.29.
Trained by Tanju Salih, the fawn dog has now won five races with one minor placing, all of which have been over the 350m distance at Healesville where he holds a 19.21 personal best.
After a string of placings Big Ticket (box four) bounced back to his best in the sixth heat of the afternoon, overcoming a mid-field beginning to barge his way through the pack, hitting the front in the shadows of the post to triumph over Your Shout Punk (box five) in 19.12.
A winner of 24 races, Big Ticket is yet to break through at group level despite having qualified for five finals throughout his successful career, with a win in the Healesville Cup final set to take his career earnings above $150,000.
The final heat of the day went to another runner from Jason Thompson’s powerful kennel, with Jack Walker leading all the way to prevail in 19.06. The son of Magic Sprite and Annie Walker was formerly trained in South Australia and based on his impressive win will only need a bit of luck to feature in the decider next Sunday.
Group 2 Healesville Cup – box draw
Box 1 – Big Ticket
Box 2 – Invictus Rapid
Box 3 – Aussie Infrared
Box 4 – Haiyan
Box 5 – Bear’s Gold
Box 6 – Zipping Arnold
Box 7 – Lorimer Lad
Box 8 – Jack Walker
1st Res – Your Shout Punk
2nd Res – Alpha Demeter