Tasmania’s second-biggest series rounds out a huge four days of racing. Once you’ve battled through the Perth and Healesville Cups over the weekend, it’s time to reload with eight full fields for the Group 2 Launceston Cup on Monday night.
The change in format to a three-week series has altered the dynamics of this year’s race. Firstly, there is only four interstate entrants, with two of those originally from the Apple Isle, greatly bucking the trend of recent years. This shows not only the crowded nature of the calendar, but also the preference of the big kennels to travel only two consecutive weeks with their stars.
On the positive side of the equation is that the local trainers have gone all out for the state’s only two-turn Group-level feature. With the Adelaide Cup, Brisbane Cup and Hobart Thousand all providing six or less heats, the change can only be seen as a success at this stage with a maximum 64 runners to face the starter.
For those unfamiliar with the tight Mowbray circuit, let it be known that inside draws are worth their weight in gold. It is awfully hard to come from further back than third around this place, so early speed combined with enough strength to run out the 515-metres makes results hard to predict.
Nonetheless, here is a summary of what punters may face come Monday night:
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT ONE
Black Rip from the Shane Whitney kennel looks hard to beat in the opener. He’s consistent from the boxes and will get plenty of room to move in the early stages from box three. He should be good enough to win from there in around the 30-second mark.
Sing the Song is the obvious danger, although the six-alley will make life tough. Given a clear run he has got the ability, but can only be taken on trust with Black Rip likely to be highballing early.
Tiger Toes races much better around the two-turn tracks and must be included for trifecta players. Street Talk is next best. Be prepared to risk Classic Spence from the poor draw, despite the 30.04 win last start.
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT TWO
Buckle Up Wes deserves to make the finals and should do from box three. All the speed in the race is out wide, so if he can hold the rail, the race is over. Fast Turtle (box six) and Miss Kiss (box eight) will fly out of the boxes, but both struggle to run out the 515 in sub-30 time. Miss Kiss is the better of those two.
Look for Maurie Baba, Mumford’s Son and Wynburn Wizard to run on late and put value into the trifecta.
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT THREE
Heidi Go Seek for Angela Langton flies the flag for Victoria here. While being the most talented dog, and drawn to perfection in one, she will be very short and might be unders at her first look at the track and first run over more than 400 metres since September.
Nooee’s Lad anticipates the start, and if he gets it right, will be literally three lengths in front by the time the others get off the mat. He will represent value, along with Hellyeah Missile from box eight. The Anthony Bullock-runner struggles to put two good runs together sometimes, but won last start by 14 lengths in 30.08 and with a repeat of that would go close.
Hard to find enthusiasm for anything else, although To Be Trew races best at here and only ever wins when no one expects it.
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT FOUR
Hellyeah Bolt should bounce back here.
Last week, he missed the start by half a step and was bashed from every direction for the rest of the race. Forget than run ever happened and focus on the 29.55 personal best. He’ll find the rail unless Lashing Illusion gets in the way, but she is well up in grade.
Dominator Girl looks a certainly to run a place with the rails draw. She loves the track and will win if the favourite gets tangled up again.
Chosen Jewel has returned from W.A and belted a field on Thursday at Hobart. Looks a better dog at home again and will get a nice run into the race. Meanwhile, Sober Moment and Champagne Girl will be coming home hard at could run a place at odds.
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT FIVE
Varcoe draws the red here at looks a great bet. His last start effort at Devonport was brilliant and there isn’t a heap of strength in this one. Has been racing in the best grade possible for the majority of his career and this race is well within his capability.
Proven Fantasy is desperate for the rails, so this will give Teddy Tom Boy and Cosmic Fire a lovely passage in the frantic opening stages from boxes five and six respectively. Teddy Tom Boy is the better of those two greyhounds and has been in form of recent weeks.
If there is one to take a risk on, it could be Jeff The Tipster. Despite being the strongest dog in the race, it’s hard to see him getting a crack at them from box eight. He looms as a first turn victim here.
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT SIX
Definitely one of the trickier races on the card, with a case to argue for every runner.
Pinto Pronto is the first dog to stand out with the good draw; however he hasn’t been seen since December and wasn’t going that well before the layoff. If the price is right and the dog is back to his best, should be a good bet.
Are Ate will probably be favourite after his Devonport Cup win, but prefers the one turn tracks and is drawn the yellow. Could well lead the race for a long way, but won’t set the clock on fire and others will be lining him up in the home straight.
Palooka gets the privilege of the cherry rug and races well at this course. Despite being up in class, and down in distance could well be the dog to upset the apple cart.
Chances also given to An That and Alvin Benz in a tough race.
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT SEVEN
Bell Oh Moss looks the certain leader here, but that won’t necessarily guarantee a final berth. She hasn’t been the same dog for the past couple of months and is suddenly suspect at the 515. She’ll probably be favourite, but this isn’t an open-shut kind of affair.
Bain’s Lane has hit a purple patch of form and won’t be too bothered by the wide draw. There isn’t much pace around him and he’ll get a lovely sit behind Bell Oh Moss.
Tic Tac Thomas was only a juvenile when he previously raced on the Apple Isle and has improved while racing in Victoria. Only being moderate from the boxes will work against the Jeff Britton trained chaser here, but he still appears a solid chance.
Those three should really fight it out, but you can add Hellyeah Fiona and Victorian Micky Mambo if looking for a surprise.
LAUNCESTON CUP HEAT EIGHT
Onto the final heat and it wouldn’t surprise if the favourite was $4.00 when they jump.
While there are a host of possibilities, anyone who saw the run of Whodat Lass over the 600 two starts back will jump on board the Graeme Moate runner here. Despite the lack of early speed, it should get a nice trail behind Mighty Lomar and run over the top barring any bad luck.
Mighty Lomar won’t be that easy to get past though and comes into the race with good form, especially the 25.30 run at Devonport two starts back. Expect improvement with this being his second look at the track.
Rumbling Rick draws box seven here and is as capable as any of his rivals in this. Will need luck to get across but if it manages to do so, will break 30 and progress with ease.
Tiza Gold is back from NSW and armed with good early pace and an affinity for Launceston brings this chaser right into calculations. She did struggle a little when in top grade during her Tassie days and looms more as a place chance.
From the others, Heliski is talented, Frytson is drawn well and Tiny Tilly can pull out a run. Should be a nice dividend if one can find a collect in the last heat.