Star Tasmanian littermates Chinatown Lad and Fallen Zorro will start short favourites for the $86,000 Group 1 Radio Sport 927 Sandown Cup after blitzing their rivals in their respective heats at Sandown Park last night.
The connections of the Tasmanian Whitney kennel weren’t afraid to back their confidence in the heats either, and were justly rewarded when their two stars saluted. The kennel is rumoured to have taken at least $20,000 off Sportsbet by supporting their charges.
Pre-post favourite Chinatown Lad got the night off to a brilliant start for owner/trainer Shane Whitney, leading all the way to win his heat in a slick 42.17. Sent out a $2 favourite, the multiple track record holder sprung from box 4 to lead all the way defeating outsider Texicali Rose ($61.70) by five lengths.
Fallen Zorro was arguably even more impressive in the fourth and final heat. Merciless Lu ($17.50) flew the traps to lead clearly in the early stages before Fallen Zorro ($3.40) swept past the early leader down the back straight, going on to win by three lengths in 42.16. Kulu Spirit ($15.40) booked his place in the final after running home strongly for second, while last start Group 3 Lizrene Classic winner and race favourite Just Friends ($2.10) endured a chequered run to finish a disappointing fourth.
Sky Hazzard, the greyhound at the centre of the 2007 ‘no race’, was unable to repeat his efforts from the 2007 series, fading to finish sixth.
Kulu Spirit was Robert Britton’s second finalist, his exciting front-runner Gunnadoo Magic having taken out the second heat in 42.48.
Shanlyn Supreme ($30) showed her customary early speed, however Gunnadoo Magic ($1.60F) assumed control when passing the winning post the first time. Rebel Angel improved to second to apply the pressure to Gunnadoo Magic, with Prince Noir ($9.70) joining in the sprint to the line.
Straightening for home, Prince Noir could not find a run between his more fancied rivals, allowing Gunnadoo Magic to hold out the gallant Rebel Angel by a length in 42.48.
Bye Bye Bones completed a rare double when he won his heat in 42.41.
The versatile chaser qualified for Australia’s richest sprint, the Group 1 Schweppes Melbourne Cup, in November last year, and will now target Australia’s premier staying race. Trainer Darren McDonald took out the 2007 Melbourne Cup with his second runner Shanlyn Prince, and Bye Bye Bones gives him an excellent chance of taking out his first Sandown Cup.
Sent to the boxes a $2.60 favourite, Bye Bye Bones began well from box 4 to assume the lead going into the first turn, and from there, was never headed, racing to an impressive 3.25 length victory.
New South Wales raider Fancy Penny ($4) railed through for second, a length ahead of the tiring Proven Alias ($3.10).
The final of the 2008 Radio Sport 927 Sandown Cup will be run at Sandown Park at 9.40pm on Thursday 15 May, and entry to the final is free.