The results have set up a tremendous final for next Sunday with many of the fancied conveyances progressing to the big final worth $43,750 to the winner.
Former banana-bender Frosty Jay Jay (4) took out the first heat in sensational fashion. While the time may have not looked like much (19.27), it was more the style in which Kel Greenough trained son of Knocka Norris and Slick Hannah won the race.
After beginning slowly and copping more than his share of interference, he found himself last halfway through the race. It was at this stage that the 37.5kg white chaser sprouted wings and raced up to join the early leaders Dirty Mary (8) and Lady Deedee (1). Zambora Storm (2) also chimed in and the quartet fought out a grinding final 100 metres, with Frosty Jay Jay proving too strong from Lady Deedee and Zambora Storm.
Frosty Jay Jay has come up with box eight in the final, which may provide him with a little more room early which could be exactly what he needs.
Nic Nat Nui (8) used the outside alley to his advantage in winning the second heat. Beginning fairly, the 34kg black dog used plenty of the track as he wound up and took the lead, slowly moving to the rails as he got away from the field.
From that point it was a one-act affair, with nothing able to match it with the Kelly Bravo trained conveyance. Nic Nat Nui (Premier Fantasy – Monasito) scored by 3 lengths from Acclaimed Love (5) and There’s A Earn (2). He has come up with the coveted one-box in the final which he should relish.
Heat three went the way of the star of the moment, Walk Hard (8). The recent Warragul Cup winner began well from the outside and found himself in second place early from Meditate (4), who wanted to get off the track. The pair came together slightly while Cointreau Cap (1) started to make his presence felt on the inside.
But the mid-race acceleration of Walk Hard provided a real highlight as he exploded away from his rivals to score by 3 1/4 lengths in a slick 19.01. Cointreau Cap was gallant in second placing, while Accelerant (3) ran home well for third. Walk Hard continued his record of drawing poor boxes in finals, coming up with box four for next week’s big one, after winning the Warragul Cup from box five.
The fourth heat showcased a dazzling front running display in the fastest time of the day by Paw Licking (8). The Hobart Thousand winner used box eight with aplomb, give himself plenty of room to clear the field and race away to score in 19.00 from Denersur (5) and First Blood (6).
The win meant Kel Greenough, who won the race in 2011 with Marbro Man, had both of his runners from the heats into the final. Paw Licking has drawn box two for the final, a box which he has won three from four races from and he is sure to be well found in the market.
Transcend Time (8) made it four winners in-a-row from the pink alley with a gritty win. As predicted, the ultra-consistent Matt’s Entity (3) landed on the speed and gave Transcend Time plenty to catch as he tore up the centre of the track.
Transcend Time found himself in second place and in pursuit of the big white and blue dog. Just when it looked as though Matt’s Entity may have the race in his keeping, Transcend Time knuckled down and ground out a tough win with a very strong last hundred metres. The regally bred son of Bombastic Shiraz and Elite Oriental registered 19.21 for Devon Meadows mentor Wayne Vassallo. Matt’s Entity finished in second place and Elusive Daicos finished third.
Transcend Time has drawn box three for next Sunday’s final. He has had two starts from box three in his career and won them both.
The scene was set for five winner in-a-row from box eight when Dark Warrior (8) started a short priced favourite in the sixth heat. Dark Warrior landed quickly on the speed and looked to have the race at his mercy with only one danger, Zulu Zircon (4).
Zulu Zircon began up towards the pace from the middle box and started to loom as the only possible danger to the favourite at the half way mark.
Over the final hundred metres, Zulu Zircon proved too strong as, stride by stride, he started to abbreviate Dark Warrior’s leading margin, grabbing the lead just before the line to score by half a length, with Vapour Storm in third.
The Jason Thompson trained Zulu Zircon posted a time of 19.15 and has come up with box five for the final.
Devon Meadows trainer Wayne Vassallo became the second trainer to have two dogs through to the final after Vapourash (5) proved too hard to catch in the seventh heat.
Vapourash only began on terms with the field but hit the ground running to find the front early and avoid the carnage that unfolded behind him. Special Pup (4), who finished second, used plenty of the track and chased the winner all the way up the straight, while youngster Civil Pursuit (1) also gave plenty of cheek down on the rails to finish third.
Vapourash scored by 2 1/2 lengths and posted the time of 19.21 which is a personal best. He will find himself in box six for the final, a box from which he has won two of his five starts.
Coco Benz (1) will be the only bitch in the final after she made the most of box one to win the last heat. Coco Benz is another who has raced most of her career in Queensland, but had no trouble adapting to the Victorian conditions.
She began as well as anyone and railed like the lure, remaining nailed to the fence for the entire event, en route to registering a swift 19.04. She scored by 1 3/4 lengths from Flying Bolt (3) who was the fastest second placing of the day and will gain a reserves rug in the final, with Burj Khalifa (8) finishing third. The David Geall trained Coco Benz will face a whole different scenario in the final, drawing box seven for the big one.
Box Draw for the 2014 Healesville Cup Final
1 – Nic Nat Nui – Kelly Bravo
2 – Paw Licking – Kel Greenough
3 – Transcend Time – Wayne Vassallo
4 – Walk Hard – Nicole McRae
5 – Zulu Zircon – Jason Thompson
6 – Vapourash – Wayne Vassallo
7 – Coco Benz – David Geall
8 – Frosty Jay Jay – Kel Greenough
9 – Flying Bolt – Andrew Mooney
10 – Dark Warrior – Darren McDonald