Monday’s heats unearthed a new generation of superstars which shared the spoils with some established champs on a fantastic night of racing at the Kialla track, with Azza Azza Azza producing a freakish best of the night run of 24.92 in the fifth heat.
The first heat of the night was a sign of things to come, with early leader and recent Warragul Cup winner Ronray Spirit saluting in a time of 25.32 for trainer Terrence Reid, defeating a very gallant Jack Silver. There was a line of four early, but Ronray Spirit was able to hold out the outside brigade, with Jack Silver working extremely hard out four-wide. On the turn Jack Silver looked a genuine chance of overhauling the leader, but Ronray Spirit was extremely strong to the line and won by a widening margin of just under a length-and-a-half.
Armed And Ready won the second heat of the night in a time of 25.18 from a fast-finishing Allen Malik. This exciting Spring Gun youngster has now won seven of his ten lifetime starts and will be a force to reckoned with over the coming months. Allen Malik got within a quarter of a length on the line and qualified for next week’s final with a personal time of 25.20.
Dyna Villa has now won 20 of his 31 starts, with a 25.18 win over powerhouse sprinter Sisco Rage in the third heat putting him in with a chance of more group glory. He led all the way to beat Sisco Rage, which put in a phenomenal run to get within a half length of the Melbourne Cup winner after spotting him four lengths on the home turn. His run of 25.21 will see him make the final as the second fastest runner-up. Lamia Bale was third over the line, six lengths from Dyna Villa.
Darren McDonald secured his second finalist in the fourth heat, with talented chaser Tiggerlong Amigo leading all the way in 25.25 to score by three quarters of a length from the fast finishing Samus Allen. Odds-on favourite Caustic Bale finished in third position, two lengths from the winner.
The fifth heat was a display of pure speed, with Wayne Vassallo’s freak sprinter Azza Azza Azza producing an amazing run of 24.92. The early split of 6.44 was super impressive, with the speedy Luca Neveelk unable to make an impression. The Gerald Kleeven-trained star chased his heart out to the line, but his finishing time of 25.23 will see him miss out on the final field of eight by less than half a length. Who Told Blackie was an honest run from the pink box to finish in third.
Midnight Flynn bucked the trend in the final heat, with the Mick Carter-trained dog being the only non-leader to salute throughout the six heats. It was a strong performance to win in 25.34 after being extremely wide for the entire trip from the pink box. Early leader El Grand Seal was run down late, but fought on well to finish second, one length from the winner. Steven Clarke’s Big Ticket continued his run of good form with a fast finishing third.
The box draw has played into the hands of emerging superstar Azza Azza Azza, with a repeat of tonight’s effort making him near impossible to beat in the final. If the son of Collision can go 6.44 to the peg again it will make it near impossible for anything to cross him and with five of the six heats going to the early leader, it’s of paramount importance to find the front. It promises to be a sensational final, with a fantastic field of chasers assembled.
Group 2 $45,000 Shepparton Gold Cup Box Draw
Box One – Azza Azza Azza (Wayne Vassallo)
Box Two – Tiggerlong Amigo (Darren McDonald)
Box Three – Ronray Spirit (Terrence Reid)
Box Four – Midnight Flynn (Mick Carter)
Box Five – Sisco Rage (John Galea)
Box Six – Dyna Villa (Jenny Hunt)
Box Seven – Allen Malik (Steven Collins)
Box Eight – Armed And Ready (Darren McDonald)
First Reserve – Luca Neveelk (Gerald Kleveen)
Second Reserve – Samus Allen (Jenny Hunt)