Eight heats of the 2014 Group One Australian Cup were conducted on Saturday night at The Meadows, with a quality field assembled for the big final next week.
Darren McDonald has qualified two runners for the final, with Keybow the fastest qualifier for next week’s final after a devastating performance in the final heat. Dyna Nalin, who has qualified for yet another Group race final, will be chasing Miata’s prize money record next week.
Greyhounds from New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania will all feature in the final.
Here’s a look at how each of the heats panned out.
Heat One – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
Kiss Me Ketut (3) had it all his own way, leading from start to finish in a personal best time of 29.77 to secure a berth in another Group One final. He ran a smart 5.04 first section and had Punch One Out (5) with him for most of the race. The inside draw gave Kiss Me Ketut the advantage of a rails run as Punch One Out had to work hard on Kiss Me Ketut’s outside. They were matching strides down the back straight but Kiss Me Ketut didn’t let the outside runner worry him and he emerged victorious by three quarters of a length over Punch One Out. Prue Bale (4) loomed as a danger turning for home, but she was unable to make up the ground on the home straight, finishing third.
Heat Two – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
Marcus Joe (2) has lived up to his Maturity win last year, qualifying for the Australian Cup after taking out heat two in 30.04. As expected, the speedy Magic Diva (3) pinged straight to the front and was rattling along in the early stages, but the 525 metre trip was always going to be the telling factor. The talented Marcus Joe got himself into a perfect position in the early stages of the race, settling in second position. Favourite, Peter Rocket (1) was back in fourth on the rails. Buckle Up Mason (4) was also prominent. Magic Diva was still six lengths in front down the back straight but by the home turn, Marcus Joe had abbreviated that margin to two lengths with Peter Rocket also hot on his heels. Marcus Joe barged his way under Magic Diva up the home straight with Peter Rocket electing to go on the outside. However, once Marcus Joe hit the front, the result was never in doubt as he finished strongly to win by two lengths from Peter Rocket, with Buckle Up Mason completing the trifecta. The early lamplighter, Magic Diva, finished fourth.
Heat Three – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
Darren McDonald is no stranger to Group One final’s and he has qualified Hallelujah Henry (1) for the big final. Hallelujah Henry used the perfect rails draw to lead all the way in 29.91, finishing three quarters of a length ahead of the fast finishing Crawf’s Bread (2), with Empire Allen (7) another five and a half lengths away in third. Of the others, Hawk Alone (3) was checked out of the race at the first turn. NSW chaser Boyce Road (8) was eating up the metres down the back straight after being last at the first turn, but he got dragged down by General Destini (5) and that ended any hope he had of storming home.
Heat Four – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
Musquin Bale (2) returned from a long spell in the Warragul Cup heats and with a little bit of racing under his belt since then, he has steadily improved, with tonight’s win bringing up a hat trick for the Andrea Dailly trained dog. He finished too strongly for early leader Paw Licking (7), winning easily by four and a quarter lengths in 29.89. High Recall (8) was unable to cross from box eight and had to settle for fourth after Bazza’s Gift nabbed her on the line for third.
Heat Five – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
Buckle Up Wes (6) has made up for the disappointment of not being in the final field for the Launceston Cup by qualifying in fine style for the Australian Cup. The win was good for the Tasmanian based dog as he had to come from behind. National Time (5) was the early leader and Buckle Up Wes was able to sit just off the pace. Hot favourite Farmor Las Vegas (1) didn’t begin well from the inside, while Banjo Boy (8) and Zelemar Fever (7) were unable to cross the field. Buckle Up Wes made a quick decision to head wide turning for home and he finished over the top of National Time by a length in 29.98. Jordan Allen (4) filled third.
Heat Six – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
Another day, another Group One final for Dyna Nalin (1) and Paul Stuart. Dyna Nalin used all his experience to patiently wait on the rails for the run at the home turn that would secure him a berth in the Australian Cup final. In taking the lead, he surpassed fellow West Australian chaser Te Amo (5) who began the best at box rise and maintained a fair lead for much of the race. Dyna Nalin first tried to get underneath the field just out of the first turn but checked off the back of Humphrey Bale (2). He had more luck turning for home and secured the win by half a length over the gallant Te Amo with Humphrey Bale finishing third. If Dyna Nalin can win the big one next week, he will break Miata’s prize money record.
Heat Seven – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
Innocent Til (8) reversed his fortunes in the Temlee by beginning brilliantly from box eight to lead all the way in 29.79. When the lids opened, Shadow Lane (7) did a sharp left hand turn out of the boxes, paving a clear alley for Innocent Til. Noted strong finisher Hailstorm Billy (1) quickly got to second down the back straight and looked the only chance to run down Innocent Til, but Innocent Til had about 10 lengths on the field at that stage and wound up winning by three and a quarter over Hailstorm Billy and Tick Bale (6), giving Jason Thompson a runner in next week’s final.
Heat Eight – 2014 Group One Australian Cup
The final heat was punctuated by the scintillating performance of recent Perth Cup winner Keybow (8). He used box eight to perfection to romp away by nine and a quarter lengths in a flying 29.59, which is just over two lengths off Heston Bale’s track record of 29.45. There’s not much that can be said for the rest of the field as Keybow turned the race into a one-act affair. Speed Series (5) and Clone Your Own (7) filled the places.
The final field and box draw for next week’s Group One Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Australian Cup is:
1. Kiss Me Ketut – David Burnett (29.77)
2. Keybow – Darren McDonald (29.59)
3. Dyna Nalin – Paul Stuart (30.03)
4. Innocent Til – Jason Thompson (29.79)
5. Hallelujah Henry – Darren McDonald (29.91)
6. Musquin Bale – Andrea Dailly (29.89)
7. Buckle Up Wes – Edward Medhurst (29.98)
8. Marcus Joe – Barry Moloney (30.04)
9. Punch One Out
10. Crawf’s Bread