The Shepparton Cup series kicks off tonight with six sensational fields competing for a spot in the Group 2 final. This year’s series sees some serious speedsters contesting the $43,750 event including a mix of proven group performers and emerging young talent.
Shepparton Cup Heat One
Powerhouse sprinter Spud Regis will line up tonight for his second start back from retirement and looks a great chance from box two. The son of Bombastic Shiraz lost no admirers last week when running a strong second behind the electric Ronan Izmir and whilst this is still a very classy race, it is not as difficult as that assignment. The four time group winner is unbeaten from three attempts from box two and has enough early pace to be prominent in the run to the first turn. If he is up near the lead he will be very hard to hold out.
The biggest threat in the event is undoubtedly the sensational Hoover Jack who has drawn ideally in box one. The Peter Hunt trained sprinter has a great record from the cherry and has a perfect one from one over the track and distance where he has recorded a handy 25.41 seconds.
Dark Warrior is racing in fantastic form at present but has been afforded no favours in box six. However, he is generally a great beginner and is capable of finding the front and stealing the win.
Willy Wag Tail is an exciting Tasmanian prospect having his first at Shepparton tonight. The son of Cosmic Rumble faces a sharp rise in class and this race will certainly give an indication of what he is capable of.
Shepparton Cup Heat Two
The Group 1 Maturity winner, Marcus Joe, is the class runner in the second heat, despite being drawn out wide in box seven. The son of Velocette won impressively at Geelong two starts back before running a luckless fourth at his latest assignment. This will be his first race at Shepparton but he has run well first up at different tracks in the past.
Zoenah’s Entity is tardy early but is great at navigating her way into a good position and from box three she looks well suited. The Mogambo bitch is looking to make it three wins in a row after notching up two nice victories at Sandown and The Meadows at her most recent starts.
Cee Ronaldo is another looking to make it three wins in a row and although drawn poorly in box four, he does have a moderate beginner on his inside and a vacant box on his outside which should assist. The son of El Galo has good early toe and looks a genuine threat with a handy 25.65 seconds personal best at Shepparton.
The Wheeler-owned Allen Dion looks the other main chance from the two. Whilst he has not won since mid-June, he has had to contend with some difficult box draws and should appreciate the move in towards the rail.
Shepparton Cup Heat Three
The Robert Britton trained Clone Your Own looks to be the one to beat in the third qualifier. The black chaser, formerly from New Zealand, is in great form at the moment having won three of his last five starts including a slick 25.17 seconds over the track and distance last start. The Group 2 Harrison-Dawson winner is not blessed with much early speed but he should be suited by the big one turn track which will give him plenty of room to move and stretch out.
Blaster has been racing extremely well against some quality chasers recently and will relish the draw closer to the rails tonight. The Premier Fantasy dog is a reliable beginner with two wins from four starts over the trip and a personal best of 25.24 seconds.
State Sensation loves the Shepparton circuit as a winner of seven from 15 however he does appear to be more suited towards the rails. Nonetheless, if he can begin well and find a good position early, he is capable of running a handy race.
Michael Carter is well represented with Jimmy Lane in box four. The son of Dyna Lachlan is a safe beginner with 17 career victories to his name so must be respected.
Shepparton Cup Heat Four
The classy Ronan Izmir was sensational at his track and distance debut last week, leading all the way from box two in a scintillating 24.98 seconds. The son of Elite state moves out to box seven for his heat tonight, the only box he is yet to salute from in his 40 start career. However, with moderate beginners on his inside, he should be able to carve across the field and bring up win number 21 for trainer Jason Thompson.
Ronan Izmir will no doubt be a short priced favourite in the event and rightly so. The best of the rest look to be Blue Giant (Box 1), Fully Advanced (Box 2), and Shadow Lane (Box 3).
Shepparton Cup Heat Five
Desalle Bale has shown tremendous early speed in her recent starts and if she begins like she has been, she will be very hard to beat despite being drawn in the five. The Graeme Bate trained bitch has won 27 races throughout her 66 start career, including a slick 25.25 seconds at Shepparton in December last year.
Slater Hill is a newcomer to Robert Britton’s Lara kennels after making the transition from NSW recently. At his first start for his new trainer, the red brindle dog ran a handy second at Sandown behind Swans Twelve but will be looking to go one better tonight from box two. Slater Hill is a son of the great One Tree Hill and will just need a bit of luck to feature in the finish after inheriting plenty of his famous mum’s talent.
Walk Hard is drawn on the inside of Desalle Bale which is not ideal but he is unbeaten over the track and distance. The Bit Chili speedster has won three from three at Shepparton with a fast best time of 25.23 seconds whilst he has won 10 overall with a further 10 minor placings from 25 career starts.
Cracker Jack Lil is drawn in box six and is capable of taking out the heat on her night however, she does mix her form and is hard to catch.
Shepparton Cup Heat Six
Paw Licking should prove hard to beat in the final heat drawn out wide in the eight. The son of Elite State is a brilliant beginner and he drops back to a more favourable distance after leading and tiring throughout most of the Nationals series over 525 metres at The Meadows. The white and black dog has won 20 from 32 including the group two Traralgon Cup earlier this year and although this is his first start at the track he has the class to overcome that obstacle.
Jason Thompson has an exciting young prospect on his hands with Whata Good Size facing his acid test tonight against some speedy competitors. As a good beginner he should be able to find a spot on the rails early from box two and with a flawless one from one at the track he looks the testing material for his more experienced counterparts.
Andrea Dailly is not without a chance in the heat, lining up with Garrick Bale from the coveted rails alley. The son of Go Wild Teddy is out of form at present but is more than capable of being a threat in the race if he is on his best behaviour.
The first heat of the Group 2 Shepparton Cup is race three tonight and will jump at 7:50pm (Vic time)