Group One racing moves to the Sunshine State this Thursday night when three heats of the 2014 Gold Cup are conducted at Albion Park.
The $75,000 to-the-winner event is run over the 710 metre journey and has attracted plenty of interstate raiders from Victoria and New South Wales, including the perennial track-record breaker Xylia Allen.
Victorian chasers have had a mortgage on the race in the last few years, winning three of the last four finals. Nellie Noodles won in 2010, Bobby Boucheau was victorious in 2011 and Destini Fireball took out last year’s big one for Norm Rinaldi. With a strong contingent heading north again this year, that trend could well continue in 2014.
Here is a look at the main chances in each heat;
Race 2 – Macro Meats Gold Cup Heat One – 6:58pm
The greyhound that will attract more interest than any other dog racing on the night takes her place in heat one. Triple Group One winner Xylia Allen has broken five track records in her last six wins and could well add another one in the series. The daughter of Turanza Bale and Tayah Bale (Droopys Vieri – Francesca Bale) will exit box seven in a six dog field and only has to be somewhere near her best to put a space on this field.
Mepunga Tiara (4) recently made the final of the Group One Sandown Cup where she finished third to Sweet It Is. She has a ton of early speed and should Xylia Allen miss the jump, she will probably find the front and take some catching. She is possibly the knockout dog in this race.
Tweed Bah Day (8) has recently returned to the Glenda Dart kennel after spending time in Victoria with Kel Greenough. He has been racing against top company down there over the middle distances and could be prominent at his second go over the “half-mile” trip. His only other start over the distance yielded a second at Wentworth Park to the ill-fated National Distance champion Smart Valentino way back in September of last year. He led on that occasion before being run down.
Race 3 – Macro Meats Gold Cup Heat Two – 7:19pm
The second heat features two Victorian invaders as well as a recent Sandown Cup finalist from across the Tasman in New Zealand.
Born Ali (7) is a Group One Perth Galaxy winner who races consistently at the elite level. After a fifth in a Sandown Cup heat, the Rob Britton trained bitch finished third to Xylia Allen in the Listed Cup Night Stayers event, before another third at Sandown last Thursday behind Tarks Nemesis. At her best, she will be one of the big guns here.
Know Class (6) has had five starts in Australia since coming across from New Zealand for Anakie trainer James Shaw. In that short time he has managed to make the Group One Sandown Cup final where he finished seventh. He has a real grinding, dour style of racing and if he is on the pace he has the ability to out-stay his adversaries.
Infinite Wish (2) is another consistent Victorian performer who has finished in the top three at 30 of her 45 career outings. She can race on the pace or come from behind, the latter of which has been her style in recent efforts. She has to be considered a good chance in this heat.
Set Her Again (1) appears to be the best of the locals in this race. She has won three of her six outings over this trip with a best of 41.83. She returns from a drop back to 600 metres last week and will look to make her mark against some of the better stayers in the country here.
Race 4 – Macro Meats Gold Cup Heat Three – 7:41pm
Recent runner-up in the Group One Sandown Cup Tarks Nemesis looks the one to beat in the third-and-final heat. The Angela Langton prepared chaser has raced at the Albion Park venue on three occasions and was a finalist in the recent Queensland Futurity, despite the race being over an unsuitable distance. She is coming off a gutsy win at Sandown Park last Thursday and is a genuine stayer who could well be left alone in front here.
Wag Tail (6) is arguably the best stayer in Queensland at the moment. The Christina Harman trained daughter of Velocette and Bacardi Cruiser (Just The Best – Lou’s Cruise) boasts the imposing record of seven wins from nine starts over the 710 metre trip at Albion Park, including a smart 41.77 gallop. She will carry the hopes of a state into this series and has more than enough ability to be competitive.
Pumped Up Zarr makes the trek up from New South Wales for Yass based trainer Neil Staines. The son of Big Daddy Cool and Midnight Drama (Go Wild Teddy – Ready To Rise) has won nine of his 34 career starts which include wins at Wentworth Park, Sandown Park and Bathurst over the staying trip.
Eleazar (7) recently returned to Queensland from a racing sabbatical in New South Wales where she was highly competitive. She won over the distance at Richmond and Wentworth Park and was racing in top level company on many occasions. She has finished second on five occasions from eight goes at this track and trip and looks to be a chance to advance to the final if things go her way.