After an exciting night of racing, it was the Jeffrey Britton trained Texas Titan who set the time standard and stamped himself as favourite for next week’s lucrative final. The first four heats saw four of the more fancied chasers record heat wins, however the towards the end of the night there were a few surprises. The most surprising would have been Tasmanian chaser Wynburn Wizard, who lowered the colours of the highly talented Deadly Clear.
Heat One – Launching Pad
Good box manners finally saw the Graeme Jose trained Prince To Excel get his chance to advance to next week’s final. After beginning on terms with the field, he and Louie Neveelk matched motors as they headed for the first bend. Using the rails draw to advantage, Prince To Excel bumped Louie Neveelk out of the way and quickly established a two length lead as they headed for the back straight. Although he seemed to get a little tired in the run home, if you had invested your hard earned on him you had no worries as he always looked to be in control, scoring by a half length in a respectable 29.91. I would expect him to improve on that time for next week’s final.
Surprisingly Moot Point was sent out as favourite. The wet track didn’t really suit his racing style as he was always going to find himself settling well back in the early stages. After some scrimmaging through the first bend he managed to find himself within four lengths of the leader and although he looked close enough, it was always going to be a struggle to reel in the leader on the heavy track. Louie Neveelk who helped set the early pace hung on for the minor end.
Heat Two – Launching Pad
According to punters, heat two looked to be a match race between likely leader Stylish Baroque and the explosive Oscura. From the coveted rails draw, Stylish Baroque pinged the lids and quickly rolled to the early lead and from there on she was always going to be hard to reel in. After beginning well the other well fancied runner Oscura managed to find a little bother and soon after he found himself giving the leader a four to five length head start. As they rounded the final bend, early leader Stylish Baroque looked to be coming back to the leaders, but as they straightened up she managed to dig deep and hold on for an impressive 29.68 win.
After finding early bother, Oscura was always going to find it difficult to win, however this exciting chaser managed to hit the line solidly for third place and he managed to narrow the margin to just under a length. The consistent Owen Bale who stepped much better tonight managed to snare the runners up prize with a strong effort. He is sure to break through in town very soon.
Heat Three – Launching Pad
Texas Titan has been catching everyone’s attention with some powerful performances in recent weeks. Last week he settled near last before unleashing a barnstorming finish to narrowly go down. Last night he anticipated the start a lot better and before he knew it he was within two lengths of the leader as they headed for the back straight. Once he had settled this close it was a matter of times and margins. The Jeffrey Britton trained chaser quickly took over going around the final bend and quickly raced into favouritism for next week’s final, scoring the fastest heat win in 29.57.
Lady Goldenpaw, who races well at Sandown, set the early pace as expected, but unfortunately for her supporters she had two strong chasers breathing down her neck. After being headed she managed to kick on and hold on for third place. The improving Fully Charged managed to gain a rails run through the back straight and for a fleeting moment he looked to be a winning chance before Texas Titan quickly put pay to him. He eventually filled the quinella spot, going down by only three and a half lengths.
Heat Four – Launching Pad
The fourth heat saw punters get it right again. The Tony Brett trained Chant made the most of the coveted rails draw. After bombing the start, he showed a tremendous turn of foot which saw him go from a length behind to a length in front as they headed through the first turn. Soon after he hit the power button and established a commanding six length lead. In the final stages he appeared to get a little tired and the final margin registered was two and three quarter lengths in a time of 30 seconds flat. On the heavy track and being his first look at Sandown, I would expect him to improve dramatically in next week’s final.
Blurred Lines was the second pick in the market, but after a slow beginning he was never in contention, eventually finishing well down the track. Penn Bale caught the eye of onlookers. After giving the leader eight to nine lengths start, she hit the line solidly to fill the quinella spot. She isn’t too far away from another win.
Heat Five – Launching Pad
As the night went on, conditions on the inside part of the track continued to get worse, however this did not sway punters. Fearless Bert was sent out as an even money favourite, but soon after box rise punters were heading for the bar. After bombing the start he found himself strung up in traffic and looking for room to move and as they headed through the first bend he was well and truly out of contention.
After stepping cleanly from box six and given plenty of room to muster by Lou Todd in box seven, the strong Zell Bale soon found himself within three lengths of pacesetter Access as they headed through the first corner. Having scored a 600m win at The Meadows in February, it was clear that Zell Bale was going to feature once he had settled so close. As they straightened for home Zell Bale had the leader clearly in his sights and he powered to the line to score by just over a half length from early leader Access in a more than handy 29.77.
Access who led for most of the journey was very gallant in defeat, with this being his first try at the 515m journey. His previous racing had been limited to the 450 metre distances at Shepparton and Warrnambool. A metro win is just around the corner for him.
Heat Six – Launching Pad
In what originally looked to be a very open heat punters quickly stored there faith in the Stephen Elsum trained Mepunga Ranger, and he didn’t let them down. After beginning well from box two he got squeezed out by Frank Furter and Top Secret, who were both desperately seeking the rails. After copping the knock he quickly found his feet again and with the aid of some scrimmaging through the first turn he managed to balance up only four lengths from the early leader. With some open space off the back straight he quickly lengthened stride and began to eat into the lead and as they turned for home he had hit the lead and powered to the line to score by one and a half lengths in a smart 29.81.
The second pick in the event, Frank Furter, was never really in contention. Soon after box rise he was squeezed out by Top Secret and being a leader, his hopes had quickly ended. Runner up Top Secret wasn’t really helped by track conditions and if he can continue beginning like he did last night he will be a major player in any event he contests.
Heat Seven – Launching Pad
Heat seven looked to be the most intriguing event of the night. Boxes one to three appeared to hold the key to the race. Mepunga Sambo was coming off a brilliant Sandown win last start, Cheeky Hand was expected to set the early lead and most onlookers where watching with anticipation to see if Deadly Clear could return to his brilliant best. With all this being said, Wynburn Wizard had something else in mind.
After being slow to begin, Wynburn Wizard slowly worked his way across and after 60 or so yards he found himself hugging the fence and within four lengths of the pacesetting Cheeky Hand. Coming into this event with only Tasmanian form, onlookers didn’t really know what to expect mid race once he had settled in third spot. Turning for home he gave spectators plenty to talk about as he had quickly gathered in the leader and had also left the talented Deadly Clear in his wake, eventually scoring by one and half lengths in 29.88.
Although beaten, Deadly Clear is sure to have derived a lot of benefit after his metropolitan debut. He appeared a little lost as they headed through the first turn and headed for the back straight. I think with another look at the track, he will appear more at home and he will be able to fulfill his early promise. Cheeky Hand as expected set a cracking pace, but the heavy conditions made it a little tougher for her to run the trip out. Favourite Mepunga Sambo was having only his fourth start and after being crowded early he eased a little through the first turn, from there on he was out of contention.
Heat Eight – Launching Pad
The final heat was another open affair with four strong winning chances. Mepunga Hayley and Banged Up Bill looked to be the most talented chasers in the field, however it was the Andrea Dailly trained pair who took control of the event.
Lunar Tom managed to step cleanly and soon after he drove to the early lead. Lektra Brave was drawn directly outside him and also began well and followed his kennelmate across into the first turn. As they headed off the back straight, Lunar Tom had broken up the field and established a four length lead over Lektra Brave. Unfortunately for Lunar Tom punters it wasn’t a big enough lead and as they rounded the home turn Lektra Brave had quickly cut the lead back to a length and had victory clearly in his sights. He eventually hit the line one and three quarter lengths in advance of Lunar Tom, stopping the clock in 29.89.
Mepunga Hayley was slow to begin and as they headed into the first turn she copped another knock. After that she got pushed back to last and was never in contention. Banged Up Bill who was also considered a winning hope never really looked likely. He bombed the start and he seemed to look all at sea as they entered the back straight, which is quite strange as he raced at this venue before.
Group Two Launching Pad Final – Box Draw
1. Mepunga Ranger
2. Wynburn Wizard
4. Texas Titan
5. Stylish Baroque
6. Lektra Brave
7. Prince To Excel
8. Zell Bale
9. Owen Bale Res.
10. Fully Charged Res
Next week’s final should be a great race. My early tip is Texas Titan just ahead of Chant. Chant should probably set the pace but I think Texas might be a little too strong in the run home. If you are having a look at early betting markets, if you can find $4.00 for Texas Titan and $5.50 or better for Chant, it might be worthwhile snapping up those odds before race night using one of out free bet offers.