Wet conditions were the order of New Years Day at Cranbourne, with six heats of the Group 2 Ken Hickey Concreting Cranbourne Cup on the 12 race card. There were a few upsets, with a number of the favourites going down. Bookkeeper, for Glenn Daiton, was the fastest qualifier through to next week’s final.
Bookkeeper (2) went to the boxes as favourite and didn’t disappoint punters, leading all the way in 30.22. It was Bookkeeper’s first look at the track in race conditions, and he handled it beautifully. Noaki Spitfire (8) began well from the outside but couldn’t cross Bookkeeper and had to settle in behind him. He stayed in second for the entire race, finishing four and a quarter lengths behind Bookkeeper. Bookkeeper and Noaki Spitfire cleared out from the rest of the pack, with the rest of the field caught up in interference on the first turn. Farmor Las Vegas (5) was involved in the interference after beginning slowly, and that cost him any chance of qualifying for the final. He finished twelve lengths behind in third.
Despite a great record at the track, Fancy Amigo (3) started at double figure odds. At box rise Fancy Amigo was the best to begin, using box three to perfection. He was aided by a slow starting Gold Town (2) on his inside. Tonk (4) began on terms with Fancy Amigo, but Fancy Amigo was able to hold him out into the first turn and kick clear of the field in the back straight. Gold Town was back at the rear of the field and was having no luck trying to find a clear passage. Dyna Filbert (1) and General Destini (6) emerged as the two leading the chase to hunt down Fancy Amigo. Fancy Amigo had enough in his tank to finish off the race with three and three quarter lengths to spare, in a time of 30.85. Dyna Filbert and General Destini filled out the placings, with Gold Town finally finding some room up the home straight to wind up in fourth.
All eyes were on Phenomenal (5) in heat three. He began midfield with Especially (4) leading the field into the first turn. Keybow (2) also began nicely from box two and was able to find himself in a good position rounding the turn. At this stage, Phenomenal was forced wide and had a bit of ground to make up. Down the back, Especially was one length clear of Keybow, with Phenomenal eating up the metres and joining those two heading into the final turn. Keybow elected to move to the outside of Especially while Phenomenal persisted with an inside run. Keybow was better served and he pinched a break up the home straight to win by one and a half lengths ahead of Phenomenal in 30.50. Hailstorm Billy (1) unleashed his customary strong finishing burst to secure third position.
Banjo Boy (2) finally returned to the winner’s circle in the fourth heat, with a three quarter length victory over Check My Swagger (3) in 30.61. Xylia Allen (4) was the favourite to take out this heat, but after an average getaway from the boxes she found trouble at the first turn and was out of the race from there. Check My Swagger showed superior early speed to lead by three lengths past the post the first time. Unfortunately for Check My Swagger, Banjo Boy was quickly on his heels and grabbed him in the last few strides. Cee Ronaldo (6) filled out the minors after negotiating a tricky passage early on in the race.
Innocent Til (1) started the favourite and was never in doubt after beginning well and leading by half a dozen lengths down the back. Crump (7) was one of the last out of the boxes and pushed wide on the first turn and could only manage fourth at the conclusion of the event. Evie’s Entity (8) positioned herself well turning into the back straight and she was able to take some ground off Innocent Til, finishing two and a quarter lengths second. Rocky Bale (3) finished strongly to run third. Innocent Til recorded 30.52 for the 520 metre trip.
Jordan Allen (8) caused an upset in the last heat. He used the wide box to his advantage and cleared all the interference, demonstrating a burst of pace to gain nearly a ten length advantage down the back, with the rest of the field suffering varying degrees of interference negotiating the turn. Peloton Bale (3) and Nobby Bale (5) came off the best and set off after Jordan Allen. Peter Rocket (4) was also trying to put himself into the race down the back but checked off the heels of Peloton Bale, putting paid to his chances of running a place. Jordan Allen was showing signs of tiring, with Nobby Bale abbreviating the margin to one and a quarter lengths on the line. Peloton Bale was over three lengths back in third. The time recorded by Jordan Allen was 30.51.
The final will be conducted on Wednesday, 8 January 2014. The finalists in box draw order are:
1. Banjo Boy (30.61) – Ken Virtue
2. Jordan Allen (30.51) – Andrea Dailly
3. Fancy Amigo (30.85) – Darren McDonald
4. Innocent Til (30.52) – Jason Thompson
5. Bookkeeper (30.22) – Glenn Daiton
6. Noaki Spitfire (30.49) – Garry Selkrig
7. Keybow (30.50) – Darren McDonald
8. Nobby Bale (30.58) – Jenny Hunt
9. Phenomenal (30.60) – Jason Thompson
10. Check My Swagger (30.66) – Tricia Curtain