This was exactly the case at Angle Park on Thursday night, when both feature events were taken out by dogs settling off the speed. The two $10,000 finals attracted the hottest local dogs available and provided some wonderfully entertaining racing along the way.
For the sprinters, the Anniversary Cup appeared an intriguing race on paper over the 515 metres, with the key playmakers drawn in all the wrong places. This created a market with plenty of chances, and five dogs would be under double-figures come start time.
Sidney’s Shadow had been the standout runner from the heats, with the Cam Butcher-trained chaser going sub-30 in his past three appearances. It would jump as a $2.50 favourite, with Set The Scene ($4.00) and Proven Juddy ($6.00) expected to be the biggest dangers from boxes seven and three respectively.
However it was the bookend pair of Bogie Magic ($6.00) and Lolly Bale ($7.00) that were fastest away, with Sidney’s Shadow precariously pushing up between runners. Dyna Hakon ($21.00) put itself in the picture shortly after, with Set The Scene scouting wide around the first bend.
Down the back, and it was still Bogie Magic showing the way for Ben Rawlings. Proven Juddy had railed up into second spot along with Dyna Hakon who made progress close by. Sidney’s Shadow had found bother by this point and was all but out of contention. Meanwhile, anyone that has viewed Set The Scene’s running pattern in the past would know that it was beautifully positioned out wide, only three lengths off the lead.
Giving the impression he was toying with his rivals the entire time, Set The Scene stayed wide out of any trouble and stormed around the leaders approaching the final bend. Once they had straightened for the judge, the race was all but over, with the son of Bartrim Bale and Coulta Gold tearing away for a great win.
Dyna Hakon led a wall of runners battling for the minor end of the prize, with Proven Juddy and Bogie Magic not far away.
Two races later, and it was the stayers turn when another $10,000 prize was on offer courtesy of the West End Distance Championship over 731 metres.
Despite both heats being quite competitive in nature, punters elected two dogs which appeared likely to fight it out. Token McLaren was the obvious candidate, having announced itself as the state’s premier stayer in 2013, and would start in the red again as a $1.75 favourite from box one.
However, the new kid on the block is Luna Jinx, and having only its fourth career start, was expected to push Token McLaren for the entire journey at a $3.00 quote.
Doona Bale ($9.00) wasn’t advised of this plan though, and speared out to a large lead in the opening stages. Token McLaren pushed up to a handy spot soon after the start, just as Kaylarikki ($11.00) ran around it with a lap to go.
The diminutive Luna Jinx was further back in the field and was on the fence starting her run, but faced an eight length deficit as the field sped down the back.
As the distance rolled on, the lead of Doona Bale got smaller as it came back towards the in-pursuit Kaylarikki, with the favourite looming nearby. It wasn’t long until a line of three developed across the track, with Token McLaren appearing the stronger of that trio. He soon took over about 100m from the post, with Luna Jinx not close enough and the others raising white flags, Token Mclaren cruised to an easy victory to take the cash as expected.
Owned and trained by Helen and Donald Foster, Token Mclaren took his overall purse to $43,000, with this most recent addition of funds coming from the 43.08 win. He has now had nine starts over the 731 metres for seven wins and two seconds in a staying career that looks likely to grow exponentially over the remainder of 2014.