Kelsey Bale again amazes fans qualifying for rich Geelong Gold Cup final

Kelsey Bale powers to the line to win the 2023 Ballarat Cup final and will start from the same box in the 2023 Group 2 Gold Cup final. (Photo: Facebook)

The Daniel Gibbons-trained Kelsey Bale is making a play to be called Victoria's newest sprinting sensation despite already having had 60 race starts, and nearing close to three-years-of-age.

Kelsey Bale has arguably taken the mantle as Victoria's number one sprinter, at least on the provincial circuit; after winning the 2023 Group 2 Ballarat Cup with an extraordinary last-to-first effort, and then last night (Friday) demoralising a heat of the Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup with a withering burst of speed winning in 29.86 seconds by a margin of 9.34 lengths.

The daughter of Feral Franky and Ethla Allen wasn't the quickest winner of the cup qualifiers, but it was the emphatic manner in which the fawn greyhound won her heat which was the talking point.

In Heat 2 of the Geelong Gold Cup (520m), Kelsey Bale delivered a remarkable performance showcasing her exceptional speed, grit, and determination to win the heat, after receiving multiple checks and being squeezed up soon after box-rise.

Despite the challenging start to the race, the -142.86 favourite with greyhound bookmakers made an impressive comeback with a remarkable burst of speed in the back straight, ultimately winning the race by an ever widening margin.

The 29.86 winning time was the second-fastest of the seven Geelong Gold Cup heats.

2023 Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Heat 2 – Kelsey Bale (29.86) T: Daniel Gibbons

Kelsey Bale secured her 20th victory from 60 starts, with an impressive record of 16 seconds and seven thirds, earning almost $300,000 in prizemoney.

She is a multiple group race winner and placegetter and will now be looking to add the Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup to her Group 2 Ballarat Cup win, her 2022 Group 2 Laurels Classic title at Sandown, and her 2022 Group 3 Silver Bullet win at The Meadows.

The Brendan Wheeler owned and bred greyhound has also been twice Group 1 placed in the 2022 Maturity Classic at The Meadows and the 2023 Group 1 Temlee, both times behind Wow She's Fast; and twice placed at Group 3 level with placings in the 2022 Group 3 St Leger at Warragul, and the 2023 Group 3 Consolation.

Of the ten black-type finals Kelsey Bale has made, she has won three and placed four times.

The Geelong Gold Cup final will be her 11th black-type final.

As was the case in the Ballarat Cup final, Kelsey Bale will be the only female greyhound contesting the $75,000 to-the-winner Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup final, and she will start the race from the same box draw as her Ballarat Cup win.

Daniel Gibbons will be searching for his first ‘Gold Cup” win, after starting three greyhounds in last year's Geelong Gold Cup final without finishing in the placings.

The Anthony Azzopardi-trained Adhana Rico won the opening heat of the cup qualifying for this year's final as the fastest winner clocking 29.75 when leading-all-the-way from box three.

2023 Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Heat 1 – Adhana Rico (29.75) T: Anthony Azzopardi

Adhana Rico is by out of Bella Rico, and has now had 35 starts for 10 wins and 14 placings, earning $52,840 for connections.

The Ibrahim Kama-owned greyhound has previously qualified for just the one black-type final, finishing sixth in the 2023 Group 2 Derby behind Zipping Novak.

Trainer Anthony Azzopardi must be suffering severe ‘deja vu' as he has again qualified the quickest winner through the heats for a Group 2 country cup final, having trained as fastest heat winner for the Shepparton Cup final, and qualifying fastest for the Ballarat Cup final with the same greyhound.

Salad Dodger unfortunately could not make it three country cup finals in row, after battling away for fourth in Heat 5 of the cup last night behind Mepunga Mustang.

Anthony Azzopardi trained Substantial to finish third in last year's Geelong Gold Cup final.

Local trainer and prominent Geelong track supporter Jeff Britton will start two greyhounds in the 2023 final, qualifying two ‘Mepunga's' through to the final.

Jeff Britton's close and long association with the ‘Mepunga' damline will continue with the Barry Smith-owned greyhounds and Mepunga Mustang winning through to the $75,000 to-the-winner final in Heat 4 and Heat 5 of the cup.

2023 Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Heat 4 – Mepunga Warrior (29.87) T: Jeff Britton

Mepunga Warrior (Fernando Bale x Mepunga Rosie) has had 95 starts for 26 wins and 40 placings, winning $298,120 in prizemoney.

The black dog broke though for his first group race win earlier this month winning the Group 3 Easter Gift at Sandown, and has twice been placed at Group 1 level in the 2021 Hume Cup and 2022 Rookie Rebel, both over 600m at The Meadows.

2023 Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Heat 5 – Mepunga Mustang (30.00) T: Jeff Britton

Mepunga Mustang is a son of Barcia Bale and and has had 62 starts for 22 wins and 15 placings.

The winner of $120,485 in career earnings is searching for his first group race win, having placed in the 2022 Group 2 Warrnambool Cup, and finishing down the track in the 2022 Group 3 Country Championship final at The Meadows, and the 2022 Group 3 Cup Night Sprint at Sandown.

Trainer Jeff Britton won the 2021 Geelong Gold Cup with Weblec Jet.

The local Grenfell kennels will be aiming to win back-to-back Geelong Cups after qualifying Nelvin Bale through to the final as the slowest heat winner.

Nelvin Bale won Heat 6 of the cup in 30.18 coming from well behind the leaders after Blue Demon was more interested in leader Mr Anderson than the lure, allowing Nelvin Bale to scoot up along the rail.

Greyhound Racing Victoria stewards did not question the run of the Brooke Ennis-trained Blue Demon which is at best confusing.

The dog had been blacklisted for a prior offence against the race-leading greyhound from a race in January 2023, and you would think should at least be on the steward's watchlist for a repeat performance.

2023 Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Heat 6 – Nelvin Bale (30.18) T: Samantha Grenfell

The Samantha Grenfell-trained Nelvin Bale has had just the 17 starts for five wins and five seconds, and will be facing his first group race final.

The Correy and Samantha Grenfell kennels won the 2022 Geelong Cup with Yozo Bale, who had made the final of Geelong's feature race three years running.

Yozo Bale had previously finished second in the 2021 Gold Cup and last in his cup final debut in 2020.

Paul Bartolo, father of Geelong Greyhound Club general manager Ray Bartolo; will start Storm Stroller in his son's feature race final after Storm Stroller won Heat 3 of the cup in 29.97.

2023 Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Heat 3 – Storm Stroller (29.97) T: Paul Bartolo

Storm Stroller will be contesting his second Geelong Cup final after having qualified for the 2022 cup, finishing seventh behind Yozo Bale.

In a 44 start race career that has seen the son of Fernando Bale and Leprechaun Storm win 20 races and run 12 places, the two back-to-back Group 2 Geelong Cup finals are the only black-type races the white and black dog has ever made.

Jordan Cooper secured an upset win as trainer when Crackerjack Bull used box eight to advantage to make a sustained run circling the leaders wide on the Geelong track to win the final heat in 29.91.

2023 Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Heat 7 – Crackerjack Bull (29.91) T: Jordan Cooper

Crackerjack Bull, like Nelvin Bale; will go in to next weeks final as one of the most inexperienced greyhounds having had just the 15 starts for seven wins and four placings.

The Blue Fawn son of Fernando Bale and Maximum Kack will be contesting his first group race final but shouldn't be taken lightly as he has recorded best of night wins over the Horsham 410m and Geelong 450m trips at two of his last three wins.

The box draw for the $75,000 to-the-winner final was drawn after the last of the seven heats, with the Brooke Ennis-trained sneaking in to the final as the fastest second greyhound finishing behind Adhana Rico in Heat 1.

2023 Geelong Gold Cup

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