Top performer Santino Marella is sure to head into Thursday night’s Group 3 Big Dog Queensland Cup at Albion Park as favourite after drawing box two in the final.
The Stephen Rolf-trained, Surf Lorian-dog dominated his heat winning by almost six lengths and in a blistering time of 34.97.
Jumping from box two tonight, the classy middle-distance runner only made the step up to 600m for the first time last week, and will be looking to take the $15,000 winner’s cheque in only his second start.
The Group Three Big Dog Cup, formerly known as the Queensland Cup, is worth $22,000 in total for the best nominated field.
However, several solid performances were witnessed in the heats last week, which will make for tougher competition than his heat.
The John Tyrrell-trained Smart Betsy is another who had her first start over the 600m at Albion Park last week, running a very tight second behind Genista Reign in her heat.
Jumping from box three, the Group One National Futurity finalist is sure to improve from the track experience and will be a top contender for the Big Dog title.
A surprise run from Texas Ranger will also raise the question of whether he can repeat the performance for trainer Brian Kutner, running a solid 35.30 with the second fastest first sectional of the night of 10.07 from box five.
Drawing box six in the final, his heat run showed the form which saw him heavily backed earlier in the year including a best time of 35.03 in January.
In box one, Classy Cha Cha is also sure to contend the race, having now run nine times over the distance at Albion park for three wins and four placings.
Another heat winner was Genista Reign, who has drawn box five, and is sure to be up there in the finish.
An outside chance will also be Flying Kostanza for top trainer Tony Brett, who ran second to Santino Marella in his first start over the distance. The Flying Penske-Subjective Lee dog will jump from box eight.
Other racing on the card on Thursday night will include a 710m Best Eight, sponsored by Accurate Timber Products.
Group placing bitch and Hawkins Media Solutions Superstayers invitee, Lady Moscato, should be short-priced favourite in this race jumping from box seven.
However, she will have her work cut out for her with Irish Fantasty drawing the one box in this race, who consistently runs close when wearing the red or checks.
One to keep an eye on in this race is Sing Heallelujah from box six, who has her first start over the distance for trainer Des Gilroy, after winning at Casino, Brisbane and Ipswich over 620m, 600m and 630m respectively.
Seminole is also sure to be there in the finish, running third by only half a length to Lady Moscato last week.
Another Group winner, and expected entrant in the upcoming Group Two Imagetec Gold Coast Cup, and Group One Garrards Winter Carnival Cup, is last week’s Brandons Queensland Derby winner, High Earner, who will line up in race six, the fourth grade Superfox Merchandise 520m.
High Earner is sure to start very short with the TOTE, jumping from the same box he did in the Derby final, where he ran a blistering 29.96.
- Andy Albion’s Best Bets:
- Race 3 Number 7 Code
- Race 4 Number 7 Lady Moscato
- Race 6 Number 4 High Earner
- Race 8 Number 3 Smart Betsy
- Race 9 Number 7 Tonto Tears