All too often South Australia is the target of interstate raiders when it comes to their feature races. There aren’t many five-figure prizes on the GRSA calendar, and every so often it seems appropriate that the people that regularly patronise the local tracks, should be the ones receiving the extra cash.
This is the premise behind the S.A Sprint Championships which kicked off on Thursday night. The state’s best chasers can showcase their talents without being upstaged by the grab-and-go raiders that often plunder the main events later in the year. Four heats were conducted last night around the 515 metres of Angle Park, with a brilliant $22,000 final to be conducted in seven days time.
Starting off the series was an intriguing race where five of the seven entrants were given genuine winning chances. Noble Kahn for Kathleen Johnstone would line up in box one, with Right Time for Cam Butcher expected to get the sit from box two. Cosmic Way was back in distance, but his strength is always a danger, while Victa Sam and Kenso Karoo were held safe by punters from boxes three and eight respectively.
Noble Kahn showed great dash from box one to head the field, going 4.45 to the first post. Usually that would be enough to make connections very confident, but it seemed only a matter of time until the lead was to change after Cosmic Way barged through to sit in second place down the back. While putting up a brave effort, Noble Kahn eventually succumbed to the pressure being applied by Cosmic Way and the son of Cosmic Rumble and Springvale Snow came away to score his 15th career win in a time of 29.75. Noble Kahn will join Cosmic Way in the final, while Victa Sam was third for the entire journey finishing well ahead of the others.
Heat two looked a little easier to navigate on paper, with Fire Tyson’s recent form looking very hard to ignore. With 25 wins around the track and distance, Tony Lagana’s runner would only need luck to secure a berth in next Thursday’s final. Despite drawing box six, Fire Tyson bounced straight to the front and was never headed in a display expected from an even-money favourite.
Cruising to a comfortable three length win over Encosta Kahn, Fire Tyson improved his previous best of 29.71, running a 29.64 Best-of-Night. Encosta Kahn gave the Johnstone family a second finalist, with Galilee Spirit, Dyna Drago and Springvale Cool amongst the beaten brigade.
It was back to a more even market for the penultimate heat. Wonder Whirl had come up with the red box, with the fast-starting Dee Dee Corsair alongside. Those two were the most popular amongst the public, with former Queenslander Bogie Magic given respect despite having to navigate the seven alley. With a 4.42 first split, Bogie Magic did more than simply handle the wide exit, he revelled in it. The son of El Galo charged across the face of the field to lead. Dee Dee Corsair had an uncharacteristically poor getaway, which in turn crowded the path for Wonder Whirl amongst others.
Going 16.95 down the back, Bogie Magic had the race in his keeping a long way from home, giving young trainer Ben Rawlings more reasons to smile after a successful year as a trainer in 2013. Bogie Magic won the race in 29.90, equalling his best performance around the Angle Park circuit. Wonder Whirl recovered well to emerge out of the traffic with a 12.68 run home, eclipsing Sienna Bale out of the final in the concluding stages.
With some fast times already posted from the earlier heats, the attention then turned to the cult hero, Ernie Bung Arrow, to see what he could do from his preferred box seven. Starting as an unbackable $1.30 elect, Ken Gill’s kennel star had returned from Victoria where he was strangely never nominated for a race. He reportedly trialled poorly at The Meadows, which forced a Silver Chief campaign to be abandoned, but it seemed a formality that his talent would again shine through in the more familiar surroundings.
Bogie Prince was the best backed to beat the hotpot, but box four wasn’t ideal and he was left fighting for the second qualifying spot with the rest of the field. There were no surprises or upsets once the race got underway, with Ernie Bung Arrow flying down the Angle Park straight with a 4.42 first split. Cam Butcher’s younger prospect, Sidney’s Shadow had also begun cleanly, and would eventuate as the only chaser capable of keeping the favourite on his toes.
The Adelaide Cup winner would prove too slick again however, stopping the clock at 29.78. His winning record continues to grow, now standing at 17 wins from 19 starts, with 14 of those wins coming around the Cardigan Street circle. While Ernie Bung Arrow never really looked like losing the event, Sidney’s Shadow did enough to prove she is already a top-line chaser with many more wins in store.
The box draw for the 2014 South Australian Sprint Championships was conducted on track last night. Ernie Bung Arrow will no doubt start favourite, and will wear the white vest in his quest to add to his current purse of $146,000. Noble Kahn could make life difficult for Ernie though. Especially, if it can produce a similar start to the heat from box four, but will be in the firing line of the familiar right-hand running pattern of the long striding superstar. Fire Tyson has drawn the ‘squeeze’ box five, but will be in the race for a long way, considering Cosmic Way will give him room to move in box six.
Victor Harbor trainer, Ronald Schadow will be waiting anxiously on any scratchings, after filling both reserve spots.
S.A SPRINT CHAMPS BOX DRAW
1) Encosta Kahn – Kim Johnstone
2) Wonder Whirl – Mick Giniotis
3) Ernie Bung Arrow – Ken Gill
4) Noble Kahn – Kathleen Johnstone
5) Fire Tyson – Tony Lagana
6) Cosmic Way – Bill Wudarczyk
7) Sidney’s Shadow – Cam Butcher
8) Bogie Magic – Ben Rawlings
9) Victa Sam – Ronald Schadow
10) Victa Scott – Ronald Schadow