Londonderry trainer Anthony Azzopardi had a night to remember at Wentworth Park on Saturday, saluting in three of the six Group One Vic Peters heats conducted over 520 metres.
Azzopardi’s campaign began in heat one with talented chaser Shoulders ($3.70), who returned to the track for the first time this month after finishing second in a Melbourne Cup Prelude in Victoria. As expected Jewel Action ($3.30fav) was best away from box three and led the field around the first turn, with Shoulders (4) positioning himself nicely behind the front runner. The son of Cosmic Rumble and Bit Stressed chewed up the metres approaching the home turn and took the lead halfway down the straight, scoring by one and three quarter lengths in 29.77. Bred and owned by renowned greyhound couple Brett and Deborah May, Shoulders recorded his eighth win tonight from twenty starts and is now a genuine contender heading into next week’s semi-finals. Kristy Sultana’s Jewel Action battled on gamely to finish second and equal-favourite All Strung Out for Glenn Rounds ran third.
Lady Ronray was all the rage in heat two for trainer Ray Steele, starting at skinny odds of $2.00 from box seven. The daughter Cosmic Rumble and Ronray Disco pinged the lids at the start and gapped the field by five lengths heading into the back straight. Whilst most people would have assumed the race was all over, Anything Less ($2.90) had other ideas when he whizzed past the leader at the home turn, streaking away by four and three quarter lengths. The son of Bekim Bale and Casey’s Angel gave astute training duo John and Melinda Finn and owner Glenn Rounds plenty to smile about, clocking a smart time of 29.75. Frattini ($6.40) for Christine Oldfield ran a brilliant race to finish second, after copping several checks at the home turn and Lady Ronray suffered just her second career defeat, finishing third.
Another short-priced favourite Are Jip stepped out in heat three from box five and started at just $1.70 for owner-trainer Kristy Sultana. The son of Fabregas and Monique’s Doll began well from the middle alley and quickly mustered pace to lead throughout in an outstanding best of the night time of 29.61. Recording his ninth win from just eighteen starts, Are Jip will now head into next week’s semi-finals as the series favourite, and will be looking to secure his fourth consecutive victory. Black Empress also began well and battled on gamely to finish seven and three quarter lengths behind the winner for Harry Sarkis, whilst rank-outsider Gold Dawn ran the race of his life to finish in third position for Marie Burton.
Steve White was looking to end a terrible week on a high with Paua To Roar ($3.20, who was well supported by punters exiting from box three in heat four. The daughter of Head Bound and Paua To Erupt was looking to notch up her fifth consecutive victory, after taking out the Group Three Nowra Puppy Classic Final last Saturday. Stepping beautifully from box five, Paua To Roar shot away at the first turn over La Grand Logie and Zipping Tank who was making a heap of ground on the outside. Anthony Azzopardi’s talented chaser took the lead turning for home, careering away to score by four and a half lengths in 29.86. The son of Smooth Fancy and Navigator Miss comes from the regal Hallinan family bloodlines, with their greyhounds renowned for finishing strongly. Azzopardi secured his second winner of the night with owner Terry Kingcott, whilst Zipping Tank produced a new personal best time over the 520 metres. Paua To Roar cemented her place in next week’s semi-finals finishing second and La Grand Logie for Jeffrey Eaton finished a further one and three quarter lengths behind in third.
Favourite backers were finally rewarded again in heat five, with Lucy Lobster (4) starting at $3.30 for trainer Charlie Lamb. Coming into this series with some solid Wentworth Park form on the board, this beautifully bred daughter of Brett Lee and One Tree Hill didn’t disappoint, leading all the way and saluting by ten and a half lengths in 29.92. Anthony Azzopardi gained another qualifier in next week’s semi-finals, with Zipping Weston ($4.80) making up a stack of ground from box seven and outsider To A Tee for Harry Sarkis ($21.20) wound up in third.
The sixth and final heat saw Jason Fletcher’s Xtreme Knocka step out as the $3.30 favourite, however Anthony Azzopardi’s winning ways were set to continue, after Cosmic Angel stepped beautifully and produced an all the way display from box one in a sizzling time of 29.62. Another talented offspring by Cosmic Rumble out of Bit Stressed, Cosmic Angel recorded her first win since August and chose the right time to produce her fastest performance at Wentworth Park. Xtreme Knocka found trouble at the first turn before making up good ground to finish second, whilst second favourite Classy Kid finished in third.
Next week’s semi-finals are not to be missed, with the box draws to be conducted on Tuesday.