Upsets were the flavour of the evening in the four heats of the Group Two Harrison-Dawson at Sandown on Thursday night with a quartet of boil-overs that would make the President of the Malfunctioning Kettle Club proud.
The surprises began in the first heat when Mepunga Melachi ($29.70) outshone a classy field to win in 29.45, leaving his handler looking as shocked as half of the punters on course.
The striking white and blue dog was last away and, even when he got to second mid-race, still faced the arduous task of overhauling the strong Innocent Til. But the greyhound god’s smiled on Mepunga Melachi who scorched away to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 29.45.
Texas Titan motored home for second to qualify for next week’s $100,000 to-the winner final with My Bro Fabio finishing in third.
Innocent Til may have been the hard luck story of the event with the steward’s report revealing post-race that he had sustained a tricep injury during the run and was stood down for a period of 14 days.
The second heat saw Musquin Bale show the virtue of early speed when he claimed some of the biggest scalps of the night to win.
The son of Dyna Lachlan and Princess Bale (Hallucinate – Gold Rush Bale) shot out of box two, making his own luck early which proved to be the key to his victory. As he opened up a break at the first turn, Golden Easter Egg winner Tonk (4) found a world of trouble and fell near the catching pen along with Ozzie Bullet (5). Hooksy (6), who was chasing his eighth straight win, copped the back wash and his winning chances were also dashed at this point.
This left the powerful 30kg red fawn chaser all alone in front and he was highly unlikely to have any trouble from that point. He prevailed to win by 3 1/2 lengths in a handy 29.28. The $34 rank outsider Cornelius Fudge (8) grabbed second while Walk Hard (7), who also had no luck early, wound up in third place.
Both Hooksy and Tonk received a seven day stand down after post-race vet examinations showed injuries.
Cranbourne Cup winner Banjo Boy (7) rediscovered some of his best form when he led from go to whoa to salute in the third heat at $6.20. It was a heat that looked to lack a genuine early leader and, once he assumed that position, he was always going to take a ton of beating.
Awesome Project (3) and Hawk Alone (7) did show plenty of strength to run on late, but the Ken Virtue trained son of Vee Man Vane and Off Springer (Flying Penske – Skullring) ran the 515 metre trip right out, stopping the clock at 29.34 in his 2 3/4 length victory. Awesome Project grabbed the all-important second place just ahead of Hawk Alone.
The headline act of the night, Black Magic Opal, had all eyes on the three rug in the final heat. When the recent Warrnambool Cup winner found the front early, most thought it was more a matter of what time he would carve out as opposed to whether or not he would win the event.
However, as the field left the back, it appeared he was not about to reel off one of his memorable runs, and Tyronimo (1) emerged from the pack in a hurry to not only challenge the champ, but run straight past him and win in the time of 29.55. Owen Bale also ran on well to snatch second and qualify for the final with Black Magic Opal finishing third.
A vet examination showed Black Magic Opal to have sustained a thigh injury and a seven day stand-down was imposed.
The box draw for next Thursday night’s Group Two Harrison Dawson Final is as follows;
1 – Texas Titan – Jeff Britton
2 – Musquin Bale – Andrea Dailly
3 – Awesome Project – Darren McDonald
4 – Tyronimo – Wayne Vassallo
5 – Cornelius Fudge – Lisa Cockerell
6 – Owen Bale – Steve Collins
7 – Banjo Boy – Ken Virtue
8 – Mepunga Melachi – Joy McDowall
9- Hawk Alone – Andrea Dailly
10 – My Bro Fabio – Brooke Dennis