Those that missed Monday night's Sita Australia Geelong Gold Cup heats were unfortunately unable to see the fastest run ever around the 460 metres of Beckley Park. Former NSW based, turned Jason Thompson trained sprinter, Black Magic Opal put in the record-breaking run and hence took a big step towards justifying the huge wraps that followed him when making the shift South for new connections.
Lining up in the eighth and final heat, the son of Magic Sprite was always expected to win from box five and never looked like disappointing. Whizzing out of the boxes, Black Magic Opal found the front immediately and using his freakish top speed, stopped the clock at 25.25 winning by six lengths. New Zealand star, Clone Your Own was the only dog tipped to push the favourite pre-race, but could only manage a distant third from box eight. He was eventually beaten by Speed Series who put value in the trifecta with a brave second placing.
While usually such a run would command a very short quote for Black Magic Opal in Friday's Group 2 final, the quality of the other seven finalists will ensure there is some value given for the winner of 22 out of 29.
The night's festivities had begun much earlier, with Farmor Las Vegas atoning for his last start Adelaide Cup defeat with a slashing run of his own. Trained by Robert Britton, he has always raced well around the Geelong circuit, and co-incidentally was the previous track record holder before Black Magic Opal's performance later in the night.
Those two dogs are obviously now set to clash, and Farmor Las Vegas' run of 25.44 is quick in anyone's language. This will give him every chance of featuring with any luck from box two.
Crump has always been a dog with enormous ability, but in recent times he has been exceptional at finding new ways to strike trouble in his races. This time around however, the real Crump stood up, beating a decent field in 25.52 for trainer Troy Iwanyk.
While $1.40 favourite Ronan Izmir seemingly had the race on his terms, Crump's strength in the back end of the race was too powerful as he cantered away to win by over five lengths, ahead of Fancy Amigo who again made life tough for trifecta players.
Having drawn box three, Crump will again need to have his field-sense at all an all-time high for the final, but one cannot discount him without caution.
Heat three saw not only another favourite go down, but literally half the field take a tumble as a Queenslander was left to survive the carnage. Frosty Jay Jay for new trainer Kel Greenough was the victor of the demolition derby in a smart 25.47, where only three dogs finished within twenty lengths of the winner.
Gold Town, Bubba's Dream and Tea Brady were all able to walk away unscathed despite hitting the deck, while the fortunes of Graeme Bate's Xenos Bale were far from that outcome.
Frosty Jay Jay has subsequently drawn pole position in the biggest race of his career, and would want a repeat of his heat run to put up any challenge against some of the hottest competition available.
Heat four was arguably the weakest heat of the night, with the exception of one runner who simply got the job done as expected. Xylia Allen started at unbackable odds from box eight, and despite blowing the start, still proved too classy in 25.52.
Problematically, she will start off the track again in box seven Friday night. With the race being loaded with early pace, Xylia Allen will have to contend with the familiar task of weaving a passage through the entire field.
Five Paws will start directly alongside Xylia Allen in box six and is expected to be very big odds. Despite knocking off rivals at $32.30 on the local tote, Norm Rinaldi's bitch brought up her ninth win, running down Crackerjack Lil who tired in the straight.
It was starting to be a tough night for punters, with race favourite Marcus Joe joining the list of star chasers to bite the dirt, and was given a 7-day injury layoff as a result. Hailstorm Billy was runner-up in the race behind Five Paws, helping the trifecta reach its $1400 figure.
With torn up betting tickets littering the concourse, Paw Licking and Imry Bale soon combined with Black Magic Opal to restore the faith for favourite punters, claiming the final three spots on offer.
From box three, it was a regulation affair for Traralgon and Shepparton Cup victor Paw Licking, with 25.58 showing on the clock at the completion of the length a half win. Buckle Up Mason was game in defeat, while Sisco Rage punched above his weight class in third beating Dark Warrior out of the placings.
Meanwhile, Imry Bale continues to be one of the most consistent chasers in the Wheeler arsenal, bringing up her 28th career win and second on the trot, backing up from Thursday night. Settling just off the pace, Imry Bale forged to the front and held off a wall of challengers in the home straight. It will now be her seventh Group race final, entering with a heat time of 25.56.
While picking the leader of the 2013 Geelong Cup might prove as tough as thinking in reverse, there can only be one winner from the stellar field assembled. If you are amongst those that had plans on Monday and missed the action from the heats, make sure you don't miss this final as it is bound to be one to savour:
Group 2 Sita Geelong Gold Cup – First Prize $43,750
1) Frosty Jay Jay – 25.47
2) Farmor Las Vegas – 25.44
3) Crump – 25.52
4) Black Magic Opal – 25.25 track record
5) Imry Bale – 25.56
6) Five Paws – 25.72
7) Xylia Allen – 25.52
8) Paw Licking – 25.72
9) Speed Series
10) Jagger Swagger