Three quality heats were run on Thursday night at Albion Park for the Group 3 Big Dog Cup, with the chasers engaged battling it out for the chance to win $25,000 for connections in next week’s final.
The Queenslanders have had fantastic recent success in this event, with Benarkin winning last year for Tony Brett and Starliner in 2013, but with raiders from NSW and Victoria heading to the Sunshine State for a crack at the middle-distance spoils, it was always going to be tough for the home-town hopefuls to dominate these heats.
In the first heat, the Joe Borg-trained Come On Fantasy started as the $1.90 favourite from fellow Victorian Clash Of Kings, which was the clear second elect. Come On Fantasy led clearly from Clash Of Kings in an early split of 9.80 and when these two dogs settled first and second, it looked like heat one was going the way of Victoria. But Reg Kay’s local series hopeful Good Call Paul used his home-town knowledge to advantage and railed underneath Come On Fantasy turning for home in a tough display to clock an impressive 34.88. The winning margin for Good Call Paul was two lengths to Come On Fantasy, with a further length and a half back to Clash Of Kings in a grinding third.
Borg managed to get a second dog through to the final and this one was never in doubt. Quality middle-distance chaser Ralphy Cinel led in an early split of 9.76 and cleared out to win by four-and-a-quarter lengths in the fastest heat time of 34.66 from the Darren Russell-trained Kidatee Croc. The second place-getter tried his heart out, but was no match for Ralphy Cinel once he landed on the bunny. Mister To Us was the eye-catching run of the race and was running on strongly in third place a further two lengths back after having little luck in transit.
The third heat of the night was won in a time of 35.08 by Buck City for Selena Zammit. The son of Collision and Lorralai speared out the boxes early and was a clear leader up the straight the first time. Bon Yeo was an enormous run to flash home for second after being severely checked early in the race. To get within a length of the tearaway leader was a huge performance. Farmer’s Gold was a further two-and-a-half lengths back in third. Race favourite Mullaway was never in contention and finished in fifth.
Next week’s final will pit five home-town hopes against three Victorian raiders and the box draw has made for an extremely interesting final.
Group 3 Big Dog Cup box draw
1 – Bon Yeo – John Adams
2 – Come On Fantasy – Joe Borg
3 – Buck City – Selena Zammit
4 – Clash Of Kings – Stephen Whyte
5 – Ralphy Cinel – Joe Borg
6 – Mister To Us – Terrence Auckram
7 – Good Call Paul – Reg Kay
8 – Kidatee Croc – Darren Russell
9 – Farmer’s Gold – Darren Russell
10 – Hougenie – Peter Ruetschi