While the majority of attention at The Meadows on Saturday night was firmly placed towards Topgun, there were six heats held of what is usually a very entertaining and quite unique series – The Group 1 Hume Cup.
With the Sale Cup being regarded as the ‘Middle-distance Championship of Australia’, the Hume Cup is actually the only time we get to see top level racing conducted around a two-turn middle distance metropolitan track, and the 2013 version is another not likely to disappoint.
Things started out with an even affair, as three runners vied for favouritism in the opening heat. Just As Fancy would eventuate as the punters’ elect from box one, with Destini Fireball and Infinite Wish also receiving plenty of support. It was Lektra Grey for the Lenehan-Dailly combination that would steal the show however, going back-to-back after a big-margin win over the longer trip at Sandown last week.
Paying $8.30 on the local TAB, Lektra Grey overcame a tardy start to find itself second with a lap to go. Just As Fancy was showing the way, after Supersonic Hawk and New Tibur had jumped well but continued to get in each other’s’ way. Lektra Grey soon slipped into overdrive as the favourite started tiring, and came away for a commanding victory in 34.41.
Destini Fireball ran on nicely into second spot, while Paris Sparks added value to the trifecta in third.
Heat two was expected to be match-race between the two widest runners, Bookkeeper and Proven Impala, however it turned out to be more of a one-act affair. Bookkeeper for the Glenn Dainton kennel flew out of the pink alley, and gave nothing else a chance in an impressive lead-all-the-way performance. While the multiple Group-race winner, Proven Impala was second for the duration of the event, it was powerless to stop Bookkeeper, who ended up six lengths in front in a slashing 34.05.
It gives the son of Bombastic Shiraz and Smashing Amy his first crack at a Group 1 event.
Temlee Winner, Cintiarna, dominated the betting for the third heat and drawn the red rug it seemed a formality that she would bring up her second win in a row. But sealing her own fate in the opening stages, Cintiarna wanted to run up the track, crashing into Blue Giant and sending him tumbling to the ground.
This carnage allowed 20/1 outsider, Easton Bale, to set up a handy lead with a lap to go. Once the field had settled, Evie’s Entity would soon emerge out of the pack and throw down the gauntlet to Easton Bale, with the pair drawing level turning for home.
In a titanic struggle, Easton Bale and Evie’s Entity went stride for stride throughout the home straight, with Easton Bale getting the nod on the post, giving Andrea her second winner for the series in 34.66. Major League was very noticeable in the ground it made up on the leading duo, finishing just over a length from the winner in third place.
There was to be no boilover result in heat four, with Alpe D’huez taking it out at odds of around $4.10. Displaying the powerful finish that has seen him win 16 races previously, the Kelly Bravo-trained dog flashed along the rails to narrowly beat Especially and Magpie Bob in 34.60.
Especially was the lamplighter for most of the event with Magpie Bob close in pursuit. While the chasing brigade always looked to be winding up, they seemed to take an eternity to make up the ground, with Alpe D’huez only gaining the lead in the final bound.
Named after a French ski resort, the son of Bombastic Shiraz and Joop Muse has now won over both longer trips at The Meadows.
After all of the Topgun excitement had wound up, it was back on with heat five of the Hume Cup. Defending champion Jethro was drawn five for Kel Greenough, with Darwin Cup winner Take It All where it likes to be, near the rails, in box two.
But punters would be left scratching their heads once again, as Born Ali for Robert Britton would come away as victor, ahead of Hala Belle and Lukey Deez in a time of 34.37. It was a race where nothing made ground from the back, and Born Ali capitalised on a speedy getaway to simply run the others off their legs.
Jethro put in what was clearly the worst run since his comeback, finishing a clear last, while Take It All was in fourth position for entirety of the 600-metre journey.
Veteren trainer, Steven Collins had to wait until the final event to ensure one of his brigade progressed onto next week, as Dyna Willow won in 34.67. Settling second behind Our Pale Ale in the early stages, Dyna Willow proved too classy as the race went on, winning with a couple of lengths to spare.
Without a doubt though, the run of the race and possibly the entire meeting was that of Surf Mail. Starting from box four, the former Queenslander copped a severe check just after boxrise and was a clear last around the first bend. Making up close to ten lengths by the time the field reached the home turn, Surf Mail looked the winner before checking off two sets off heels at the crucial moment. Despite losing all momentum for a second time, he still picked himself up to run second behind Dyna Willow, putting the writing on the wall for a strong performance in the very near future.
The Group 1 $75,000-to-the-winner Hume Cup final will be run on the traditional pre-Melbourne Cup Silver Bullet meeting Monday 4th November.
G1 Hume Cup box draw
- Box 1- Alpe D’huez
- Box 2- Easton Bale
- Box 2- Proven Impala
- Box 4- Lektra Grey
- Box 5- Dyna Willow
- Box 6- Bookkeeper
- Box 7- Hala Belle
- Box 8- Born Ali