El Grand Seal, Walkaway Breeze, Sadie’s Guess, Jaraco and Timmy Mac head the raiding party for the heats, the first of which will commence at 10.40pm AEDT, with the seven heat winners advancing to next week’s final along with the fastest runner-up.
The first heat is one of the strongest, with classy Victorian El Grand Seal doing battle with established Cannington star Gone To Heaven, new kid on the block Franc Monelli and track specialist Walkaway Ablaze. I think El Grand Seal has the edge. She is making her Mandurah debut so will need luck as they head into the first bend, but she has scored some ridiculously fast wins in Victoria over similar journeys and should get a nice cart across from Walkaway Ablaze in the first 50m.
Walkaway Ablaze has a good record over this journey and has an even better record over 302m here. The box draw hasn’t done him any favours but he is reliable early and I’m expecting him to ping away and burn to the early lead. He isn’t overly strong but if he can pinch a break mid-race he may just steal the prize.
Franc Monelli has won 10 of 16 over this trip and he continues to impress. The only concern is he is yet to run any really serious time. He has been well placed but this is clearly his toughest test.
Gone To Heaven rounds out the contenders. She is better suited to a longer journey but is all class and with a good getaway she shouldn’t be too far away.
Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup Heat Two
It’s hard to see class speedster Last Day being beaten here. The Christine Robartson-trained flyer has won nine of 18 over this trip and normally just pings and runs. There isn’t much speed around him so he should get a fairly cheap lead and I would expect him to be one of the fastest qualifiers.
Ozzie Bullet is the run-on type in the event and he is a must for your exotic bets. He has turned in some super efforts here over 490m in recent months and should have enough natural early pace to be a factor.
Black Camaro is the interesting runner. He has come up with the good draw and will be looking to redeem himself after a string of luckless efforts. He is in good hands and I would expect him to turn around his form.
Fun Princess is another with claims. She is hit or miss early but she does race well here and can match it with most when she lands on the bunny.
Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup Heat Three
Tough race and it looks a battle between Take The Dosh, Nobu King and track specialist Ruble Monelli. Nobu King is surprisingly well drawn in the middle and if he can reproduce his last-start effort when he scored here in 22.53, he will prove hard to hold out. With the speedy Ruble Monelli drawn underneath, he should get a clear passage into the first bend and should prove too strong.
Ruble Monelli should pounce on the early lead and she will look the winner for most of the trip. This is a big step up in class for her and she may get a little tight as they head for home. She is obviously a great winning chance but she will need to avoid pressure in the early stages.
Take The Dosh has won 11 of 27 here and she aiming for a hat-trick of wins. I’m not convinced she can hold out the two in the middle early so place claims appear best for her.
Proven Will is dropping back in distance and is a great place hope. He may find these too zippy early but he should be able to run over the top of some stragglers in the home straight.
Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup Heat Four
West On Santo hasn’t fared too well with the box draw but he loves racing here and looks well placed. He has been racing over the 530m trip of late but is better suited back to this journey and with three slow beginners drawn underneath, he should be able to bounce and run and once he finds the fence he should go into overdrive.
Thunder Rama has turned in some great efforts at Cannington in FFA class of late and he, too, should be suited back to this journey. He has great box manners and I would expect him to sit just behind West On Santo for most of the journey. If the draws were reversed I would probably have him as the dog to beat.
Baht Monelli is another lid-pinger and he should be in the mix for a long way. He isn’t as strong as some of his rivals so he will need to cross and lead to win but even if he doesn’t lead he can still plug on for some minor money.
Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup Heat Five
This is the heat I am looking forward to, with at least five genuine winning chances. Jabba Da Pup is a speed demon and if he is 100 per cent he should make light work of this line-up. He has won 10 of 13 over this trip and he has an eye-popping 22.33 PB. He has been a little disappointing in recent weeks but after two weeks off I’m sure connections have him ready to fire.
Living Proof has dazzling mid-race speed and has scored some super-impressive recent wins at Cannington. He will need some room in the first 50m but if he gets it he will explode as they head into the first turn. He isn’t a genuine 400m chaser but he has high speed and only needs an ounce of luck.
Sialia is a royally bred chaser and has won 10 of 19 over this trip. Her box manners aren’t great but if she happens to get away she is more than capable of matching it with the two favourites.
Full Of Beans is another who should be vying for the early lead and with a lot of 530m racing under his belt, he will be strong in the run to the line.
Sir Wick and Hoss Funk are also classy speedsters and if either was to salute it would not be too much of a surprise.
Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup Heat Six
Paul Stewart’s kennel is firing and he has got Astrophysic to win his past four here in explosive fashion. In fact, he has won six of his past seven here and in all of those wins has gone under the 22.60 barrier. He is normally a faultless beginner and if he steps cleanly he should be able to put two or three lengths on them soon after box rise. If I was betting pre-post, he would be the likely favourite for next week’s final, because he is so reliable and is capable of putting the time on the board.
Jaraco is a smart Victorian sprinter and she can ping the lids at times. She is having her first look here but if she gets away she should go with Astrophysic for the first few hundred metres and she looks a great quinella prospect.
El Deseo could be the surprise packet. She has been placed in four of five here and will be hitting the line hard. She has been racing against some classy types here over 490m and looks better suited back to this journey.
Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup Heat Seven
The last heat is wide open and I think it all comes down to how well West On Delly can go when she drops back to the 405m journey. She comes back after a successful stint in Victoria where she scored top wins at The Meadows and Sandown. She appears to be going from strength to strength and it’s worth noting she won a qualifying trial here in a slick 22.55 before heading to Victoria.
Rapido Kid has an enormous amount of talent and when he is switched on there aren’t many speedsters that can go with him. He has won nine of 20 here and boasts a breathtaking 22.34 PB. If he happens to come out running they won’t know which way he went.
Oxley Legend is in great form and must be respected. He recently won here over 302m in a scintillating 16.83 and a similar display of speed here will have him in the mix for most of the journey.