The Australian Cup carnival at The Meadows moves into full swing on Saturday, with eight heats of the 2014 Group One Australian Cup being conducted on a big night of racing that also includes the heats of the Super Stayer’s series.
The Australian Cup is one of the biggest Group One races on the racing calendar, with a whopping quarter of a million dollars going to the ultimate winner of the series. As it is, each heat winner this week will earn a cool $10,000.
Just the winner of each heat will go through to the final and the two fastest seconds will be reserves. There is no Black Magic Opal in the heats, but there are plenty of other Group race performers lining up for a tilt at the big prize such as Zelemar Fever, Dyna Nalin, Hawk Alone, Peter Rocket, Ollie Bale, Banjo Boy, Keybow, Kiss Me Ketut and the list goes on.
Here is a look at each heat.
Heat One – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 2 at 7:38pm
Kiss Me Ketut (3) returns from a luckless fifth in the Temlee and has a suitable draw here. The box manners of the dog by Bombastic Shiraz – Spiral Siyan have not been at there best in recent weeks and they need to improve in order for Kiss Me Ketut to lead. If he doesn’t lead then he will have trouble winning.
Punch One Out (5) has drawn the squeeze box, but if she shows the pace she did in the Paws of Thunder series at Wentworth Park recently, then she is chance of overcoming the draw. The worrying factor is that she hasn’t won at The Meadows from two attempts.
Rocky Bale (7) won an Australian Cup preliminary race last week in 29.92 from box one. He has a good record from the draw with three wins from three starts. He will need a little room early to muster and with some luck is an each way chance.
Wise Ella (8) ran second behind Vapourash in an Australian Cup preliminary race last weekend and has two wins at The Meadows. She is a consistent beginner but she has not won from box eight. Angela Langton advised ARG during the Laurels series that Wise Ella is an inside box specialist.
Of the remaining Wheeler brigade, Liara Allen (2) has a perfect record from box two, and three wins at the track for a best of 30.09. Melbourne Cup place-getter Dyna Beth (1) doesn’t look suited by the draw, with none of her 11 career wins coming from the rails draw. Prue Bale (4) loves The Meadows and at her last appearance, which was from box four, she led all the way in 29.99 and ran a smart 5.03 first section.
The other runner in the race is NSW chaser Amadeus Strikes (6), who is a recent addition to Rob Britton’s Lara kennel. The black bitch by Bombastic Shiraz – Forgetful Lucy has had two starts in Victoria for a third at Geelong. Her NSW form includes 9 wins at Wentworth Park with a best of 29.70. The green rug hasn’t been a problem for her in the past as she possess a perfect record from the box.
Heat Two – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 3 at 8:00pm
Temlee place-getter Peter Rocket (1) finally has a decent inside draw and he will be looking for his first win out of box one. His record from box two is outstanding with seven wins, but for some reason he has only ever placed out of box one. His run was eye catching in the Temlee last week and if he runs up to that, he is a big chance of making yet another group race final.
The 2013 Group One Maturity winner Marcus Joe (2) is drawn alongside Peter Rocket. He has not been performing at his best in the lead up to this race but if he puts his best paw forward he is capable of running some time, with 29.66 his personal best at the track.
Ollie Bale (8) won the Group One Silver Chief from this box at The Meadows earlier this year. However, since that race he has failed to rack up another win, although he did perform well over at Cannington during the Perth Cup series. He won’t be afforded any mistakes on Saturday night.
Deadly Vane (7) and Kid Maximus (6) were also finalists in the Silver Chief series. Deadly Vane had a short break after the Silver Chief series after changing hands for a large figure. Formerly trained by Joe Borg, he will be racing for Braden Finn for the first time. He has a great record at The Meadows, with four wins and is hit and miss at box rise, but if he gets it right he is in with a chance. Kid Maximus won his semi of the Silver Chief and finished second in the final. He hasn’t run a place since and is better suited drawn near the rails.
Magic Diva (3) is an excellent beginner who has won six of her last seven starts, with her last two wins coming over the 450 metre distance at Ballarat. She is yet to be tried over this trip at The Meadows so her strength over the closing stages of a 525 metre race is unknown. She has no wins over a distance greater than 500 metres recorded against her name.
Zipping Willow (5) is a NSW chaser trained by Jason Mackay. She flew around Canberra in 30.12 to win the Group Three Canberra Cup in 2013 and she has also recorded a fast 29.52 out of several wins at Wentworth Park. It’s her first start at The Meadows.
Buckle Up Mason (4) contends with the tricky box four draw. His recent form isn’t great and his last win came back in October 2013.
Heat Three – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 5 at 8:38pm
Three Rookie Rebel finalists line up in the third heat. Rookie Rebel winner Hawk Alone (3), Daintree Emperor (4) and General Destini (5) are all boxed next to each other.
General Destini (5) showed good pace to lead the Rookie Rebel field last week and the drop back in distance suits. He is one of the more consistent dogs going around so he can’t be written off.
Hawk Alone (3) was able to begin well enough last week to slot in behind General Destini for much of the race. He collared him down the home straight to secure a strong win. Connections believe he is better suited over the 525 metre distance. He will be one dog that will be storming home.
Daintree Emperor (4) had no luck in the final and has just three wins at The Meadows from 12 looks at the track.
Empire Allen (7) won an Australian Cup preliminary race in 30.11 last week and has three wins at The Meadows. He will need to improve on that time if he is to win this heat.
Hallelujah Henry (1), from the Darren Mcdonald kennel, will appreciate the rails draw and he has won three from five at the track. He ran fourth behind the track record breaking Hooksy at Ballarat last week. His best time at The Meadows is 29.95.
Jewel Bale (6) looks to be one of the leaders. She is a fairly consistent beginner with two wins at the track and a best of 29.89. She has also won five of her last eight career starts.
Crawf’s Bread (2) hasn’t won from box two and is a bit risky at box rise. He has won four at The Meadows with his last win at the track coming in November 2013.
The talented NSW youngster Boyce Road (8) has his first start at The Meadows on Saturday. He has nine wins from 14 starts but he may find trouble early trying to get across the field. If he is anywhere near the lead, he will show what he is capable of, as he is very strong.
Heat Four – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 6 at 8:57pm
Paw Licking (7) features in this heat. He finished second in the Temlee after breaking the second sectional record during the race. He has brilliant early speed (evidence by a 4.94 first section split last week) and with that 525 metre run under his belt he should be better for the run. If he pinches a break, there’s no doubt he is capable of winning through to the final.
Dark Warrior (6) is also capable of beginning well. He has been freshened since his win at The Meadows on 8 February. In that win, he led all the way from box seven, running 5.06 to the first mark and recording a best of 29.98. He is drawn inside Paw Licking so will need to get out well and avoid being crossed.
Perth Cup finalist High Recall (8) will be looking to give his owners, the Weston’s, another Group race finalist. He has eight wins from 12 starts and this will be the black bitch’s first run at The Meadows. She is an excellent beginner and will need to do everything right to be able to cross Paw Licking in the early stages.
Musquin Bale (2) has returned to form with two wins from his last two starts. He won here last week in an Australian Cup preliminary race in 30.05, bringing up his third win at The Meadows. He is yet to win from box two but has showed good box manners at his last two outings.
Of the others, Rozehill Sanya (5) is in a super kennel (Jason Thompson) and has won five of her last six. She is capable of leading and has recorded 29.89 from two wins at the track. Gold Town (4) is a strong finisher but is likely to be squeezed out in the early stages. Bazza’s Gift (3) is a consistent good beginner but is yet to win at The Meadows after four attempts. Blue Giant (1) has the coveted rails alley but he is a slow beginner and will have trouble in this field.
Heat Five – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 7 at 9:20pm
This heat is littered with Group race performers. It features Farmor Las Vegas (1), Buckle Up Wes (6), Zelemar Fever (7) and Banjo Boy (8). Out of all those, it is Farmor Las Vegas that is boxed to perfection. The black dog by Knocka Norris – Farmor Cee You has won six times wearing the red rug and he is coming off a fast win at Horsham on the 11th of February. He has also recorded a fast 29.71 at the track.
Zelemar Fever (7) won the Temlee in impressive strong running fashion last week from a more suitable box two draw. Her record from outside boxes isn’t as good as the inside but if she is anywhere near the lead, she is strong enough to win. She ran a personal best of 29.87 last week.
Banjo Boy (8) also prefers the inside draw, but he has won three from box eight. If he stays out of trouble, he is certainly fast enough once he musters to be up among the leaders around the turn. If he has that little bit of early luck he is certainly a chance.
Buckle Up Wes (6) performs best when he leads and it will be interesting to see how he handles his first look at The Meadows. He missed out on making the final of the recent Launceston Cup but still ran the best time over the Cup distance on Cup night. He was also a place-getter in the Paws of Thunder final at Wentworth Park, where he ran very fast early sections. He has been a model of consistency and is a definite each way chance.
Veyron Bale (2) and Peloton Bale (3) have not been beginning well of late and with a lot of early pace in the race, may struggle to tack on in those all important early stages. Veyron Bale can show early speed when he wants but isn’t consistent.
Jordan Allen (4) won an Australian Cup preliminary race last week in 30.09. He is a good beginner with a 5.09 sectional recorded last week. He has three wins at the track for a best of 30.09. National Time (5) has just one win at the track and has mixed form in the lead up. The awkward box draw doesn’t help although he did record his only win from box five at The Meadows back in January and went 5.05 to the first mark.
Heat Six – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 8 at 9:40pm
Dyna Nalin (1) is the big name in this race. The inside draw suits him and he has won from box one at The Meadows in 29.89. He didn’t begin well last week from box six in the Temlee final, but the return to the better box may assist in that respect. He is also very consistent at The Meadows.
Humphrey Bale (2) has taken a liking to The Meadows, winning four from nine, including an Australian Cup preliminary race last week. He led all the way last week from box three in 29.98 and has won his last two at The Meadows.
Vapourash (6) was a recent finalist in the Healesville Cup and picked up his third win at The Meadows last week in an Australian Cup preliminary race. He had this box last week, leading all the way in 29.98. He is approaching the tail end of his career but has been racing in good stead.
Cornelius Fudge (3) is a risky beginner who has managed a win at The Meadows and Sandown in last two performances. He hasn’t got the best early speed, only going 5.27 to the post the first time at his last start at the track. From three wins at the track, he has recorded a best time of 29.91.
Rose of Galo (4) is a recent addition to Victorian racing after being sent down from Queensland to Jason Thompson’s kennel. She has had just the one run at The Meadows for a third placing. She led the race, running 5.04 for the first section, but was run down by Speed Series.
Te Amo (5) is having her first run at the track for Western Australian trainer Linda Britton. She is a slick beginner and will need to lead to be a chance.
Purcell Bale (7) has a good record from box seven, winning five times. He has two wins at The Meadows including one on 1 February where he led all the way in 30.03 and recording a 5.02 first section. She stays under notice.
Nockabout Aussie (8) looks likely to struggle in this field but has won at The Meadows in 29.83.
Heat Seven – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 9 at 9:58pm
2013 Laurels winner Ritza Hattie (2) struts her stuff for the first time at The Meadows. The draw is good for her and will hopefully improve her recent run of bad box manners. She only ran unplaced for the first time in her career two starts back and given her ability, she looks a chance on paper.
Spud Regis (5) hasn’t raced since the 25th of January, when he ran last at The Meadows. At his best, he recorded 29.63 at the track back in March 2013. He does his best work when leading and hopefully for connections, the freshen up helps him get out in front from the middle alley.
Zipping Brock (3) is the recent winner of the National Derby at The Gardens. He is the most inexperienced chaser in the field, facing the starter on just 10 occasions. He has been to The Meadows before and won in a moderate 30.52.
Recent Gosford Cup winner Awesome Project (4) is a relatively new addition to Darren McDonald’s kennels. He is a last start winner at Cannington during the recent Perth Cup series where he recorded a strong 30.46. He has won six of his last eight and is sure to be well schooled at The Meadows.
Hailstorm Billy (1) has been doing much of his recent racing over the longer 600 metre trip and has just the one win at The Meadows over the 525 metre distance, and is yet to record a win from box one.
Tick Bale (6) and Shadow Lane (7) may struggle from their respective unsuitable draws. Tick Bale won an Australian Cup prelimiary race last week in 30.00 from box one. He is generally only fairly away and will need some luck early. Shadow Lane is yet to win from box seven and is unlikely to do so in an Australian Cup heat.
Innocent Til (8) stays under notice. There’s no doubting his ability as he was an invitee to the Temlee. He finished last in that race from box seven after striking trouble. He doesn’t mind box eight as he has recorded five wins in the pink rug. He should get a clearer run with two moderate beginners on his inside.
Heat Eight – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 10 at 10:20pm
Perth Cup winner Keybow (8) headlines the final heat of the evening. He will be wearing the pink for the first time in his career and looks better suited to an inside draw (he has won all five starts from box two). He needs some room in the first couple of strides to muster pace and will be assisted by the moderate beginner on his immediate inside (Clone Your Own). He is very strong and will be prominent in the closing stages if he doesn’t suffer interference early on.
Warragul Cup runner-up Evie’s Entity (1) is another one that will be finishing strongly. She hasn’t raced much at The Meadows (three times in her 49 start career), but ran second behind Dark Warrior back on the 8th of February. She is also suited by the rails alley, so keep her safe.
Tomac Bale (6) finished seventh in the Temlee last week and is searching for his first win since November 2013. He is a fast dog when everything goes his way, as evidenced by his personal best of 29.67. He just needs a little bit of fortune and some confidence to return to his winning ways.
Deadly Boy (2) won three in a row at The Meadows back in December 2013 and is well mannered at box rise. He is yet to win from box two and was held up numerous times in his third placing behind Dark Warrior at the track last start. He has the advantage of a slower beginner on his inside and that could mean he gets the advantage of a favoured rails run.
Dyna Ishaan (3) won an Australian Cup preliminary race last week in 30.17. His form has been a little bit patchy and he will need to run up to his best to steal this heat.
Allen Deed (4) had an unfortunate fall in the Perth Cup final at his most recent start and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from that. He is a talented chaser with four wins at The Meadows and a best of 29.85.
Speed Series (5) is a good beginner and he will need to lead to factor, while Clone Your Own (7) will have to contend with box seven, a box that is not ideal for a moderate beginner in this class.
Don’t forget to tune in and watch the best dogs in Australia contest the heats of one of the biggest races on the Australian greyhound racing calendar.