Group 1 glory travelled to Dapto for the first time on Friday night as a stellar field assembled for the running of the Group 1 Dapto Megastar. The $75,000 to the winner feature attracted plenty of interstate interest, with some of the nation’s best two turn sprinters making the trip for a crack at the prize.
In an interesting concept, five of the runners in the final were selected via an invitation process. Victorian Proven Nitro was extended an invitation and was allocated the coveted rails alley for the decider. Other invitees included the Sunshine State’s Glen Gallon, the Garry Edwards-trained Double Twist, three time group winner Jagger Swagger and NSW’s most exciting prospect, Zulu Zeus. The remaining three spots were up for grabs in the Megastar Prelude with the first three placegetters Peter Rocket, Mexico City and Amadeus Strikes making the cut.
Zulu Zeus headed to the boxes as the $2.20 favourite from box eight. The NSW Sprint Representative recorded a slick 29.46s trial in preparation for the race, with punters confident the son of Where’s Pedro could overcome the wide draw.
However, when the lids flew open Zulu Zeus was stuck out wide after an average beginning and was relegated to the tail of the field, never looking a genuine winning chance from that point in time. As the runners charged into the first turn it was the local hope, Double Twist, cruising out in front. As she led the field through the catching pen, Prelude winner Peter Rocket pushed his way underneath the 25 kilogram speedster and assumed the lead. Once he hit the front Peter Rocket was never in danger. The striking black chaser swung for home and careened away to score a tenacious one and one quarter length win in a brilliant 29.81s.
Chasing him home gallantly was Glen Gallon, with the Jason Thompson-prepared Proven Nitro pinching third. It was an extremely close affair for many runners in the beaten brigade with less than six lengths covering the entire field as they thundered across the line.
It was the second feature win for the son of Where’s Pedro who took out the Group 2 Horsham Cup earlier this year. Peter Rocket now boasts the strong record of 47 starts for 20 wins and 18 minors and over $220,000 in prizemoney.. Trained in Victoria by Keith Hellmuth and owned by Lisa Hellmuth, Peter Rocket’s win in the Megastar ensured he is right in contention for the upcoming Group racing calendar in Victoria.
The other Dapto feature run and won last week was the Group 3 Dapto Maiden on Thursday night. Run over three weeks,, the $25,000 event saw some promising pups contest the series, all looking to break their way onto the racing scene in the finest fashion.
The favourite for the final was Mark Gatt’s thrilling youngster, Ritza Danny who had been ultra-impressive in claiming both his heat (29.98s) and semi-final (29.60s) but after a poor beginning he was no match for the winner, Cawbourne Whip.
Cawbourne Whip was second away and sat behind early leader Melaneus Shiraz in the run to the first turn. The black and white bitch took over down the back and sprinted away, triumphing by six lengths in a solid 30.05s. Trained at Gunning by Jodie Lord, Cawbourne Whip has now faced the starter on five occasions from which the daughter of Dyna Lachlan and American Spot has strung together two wins and two minor placings.
Ritza Danny lost no admirers in second place and looks to have a very bright future. Melaneus Shiraz tired to finish third but also looks a promising type and should go on to win plenty of races for trainer Kristoffer Della Casa.
Peter Rocket was not the only Victorian to steal top honours in a NSW Group final over the weekend.
On Saturday night Proven Impala took her place in the Group 3 Chairman’s Cup at Wentworth Park and was far too classy for her competitors. The front running stayer put in a similar performance to her heat win the week prior, bounding to the lead in the run to the line on the first occasion and clocking a sensational 42.01 seconds. Down the back the daughter of Velocette and Thanks Blue looked in danger as the powerful Smart Valentino broke clear of the pack and started to pursue the Victorian star. However, as the runners approached the home turn it was obvious that the Joe Borg-trained greyhound was not going to be defeated and she hit the line five and one quarter lengths ahead of her 33 kilogram rival.
Proven Impala is still racing in fine style over the half-mile despite turning four years of age in October. The black bitch has the fantastic record of 31 wins and 20 minor placings from 78 starts. Included in those wins were triumphs in the Group 1 Rookie Rebel and the Group 2 Mckenna Memorial over the middle distance. Proven Impala is now set to stay in work, with her last racetrack target likely to be the Group 1 Sale Cup in December before heading to the breeding barn.