Black Magic Opal (24.84) and Innocent Til (25.00) dominated their heats to set the time standard for the $43,750 to-the-winner event.
With many of the top-rated runners advancing to the final, the scene is set for a gem of a decider next week.
Let’s take a look at how the heats transpired;
Harry Potter fans were rejoicing early when Godrick Gryfindor (1) showed some wizardry of his own to put his rivals to the sword in Heat One for Lara trainer Marlene Dopper.
Jumping moderately from the rails alley, the son of El Galo and Martha Spinco (Zed Three – Zaire) quickly mustered to second place and eventually reached the lead by virtue of the inside draw after a short duel with Izack Bale (7).
Godrick Gryfindor had his share of challenges in the straight with Empire Allen (5) and Whata Good Size (2) looming large. But he fought on resolutely to win by 1 3/4 lengths in the time of 25.15.
Empire Allen finished second with Izack Bale third.
Superstar chaser Black Magic Opal (7) lived up to his star billing by dominating Heat Two in a near record 24.84 for astute Pearcedale mentor Jason Thompson.
Jumping second, the son of Magic Sprite and Awesome Opal (Most Awesome – Opal Glow) wasted no time in hitting top gear and racing away to score by 6 1/2 lengths just 0.02 outside Phenomenal’s track record.
Musquin Bale (5) finished second with Cosmic Wise (2) third.
Silver Chief winner and recent Golden Easter Egg finalist Ollie Bale staved off the late challenge of Walk Hard (2) to land the third heat.
The son of Go Wild Teddy and Zambola Bale (Collision – Maple Bale) landed in front early and was always going to be hard to beat from that point. Walk Hard was last away but found the fence quickly and sped to fourth place.
Entering the straight, Take Charge (8) had made good ground on Ollie Bale but was struggling to pick him up. Walk Hard swung wide and unleashed a withering burst, making up the better part of six lengths to only go down by a head in 25.15 in an exciting finish. Take Charge finished third.
Deadly Vane (3) finished strongly to land the fourth heat in 25.14 for Brooke Ennis.
Beginning as well as could be expected, the son of Vee Man Vane and Surfing Idol (Surf Lorian – Ginger Legs) sat third early behind the speedy Quara Bale (5) and last year’s cup winner Ronan Izmir (2).
Entering the straight, Quara Bale was under siege with Deadly Vane on his outside and Ronan Izmir scooting along the fence. But it was Deadly Vane’s superior strength that reigned supreme as he balanced up and went on to score by a length from Ronan Izmir with Aussie Bullet (3) working home well to land third.
Innocent Til (6) put on an imperious display to win the final heat in a slick 25.00, landing a winning double for Jason Thompson.
Beginning mid field, the hulking black son of Premier Fantasy and Proven Polly (Black Enforcer – Proven Tops) hit the ground running and quickly worked his way around the field to hit the front and race away.
No one got close to Innocent Til as he went on to win by four lengths in the second fastest cup heat.
Youngster Dr. Don (1) ran a good race to finish second, with Veyron Bale (8) in third.
The box draw for next week’s Group Two final is as follows;
1- Ronan Izmir – Jason Thompson
2- Innocent Til – Jason Thompson
3- Ollie Bale – Andrea Dailly
4- Dr. Don – William McMahon
5- Black Magic Opal – Jason Thompson
6- Deadly Vane – Brooke Ennis
7- Walk Hard – Nicole McRae
8- Godrick Gryfindor – Marlene Dopper