If someone was asked which track would provide the most entertaining sprint races, not many would answer with the 405 metre trip of Mandurah, however last Friday’s Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup final was anything but boring as all but two dogs had a winning chance with 50 metres to go.
Eventually it would be the Linda Britton-trained Easy Peasy that would take it out, but those watching the race will remember it as one of the best finals of the summer.
Leading up to the event, the eight heat winners all shared similar best times, however Easy Peasy, with the experience of feature racing in Victoria, was to start favourite at a quote of $2.30 which seemed a bit skinny at the time given the fickle nature of short-course sprinting. Strapper’s Angel was the next popular choice at $4.50, while One Banana ($7.80), Special Annie ($8.60) and Rudge ($9.80) were all specked at bigger odds. Top Draw Diva ($13.50), Marco Said So ($18.00) and Tat Zephyr ($18.30) all were trying to provide the boilover result.
With box manners proving to be the key factor in most of the heats, all eyes were on the start of the Group 3 final to see who could make the early getaway. Once the bunny flew past and the lids sprung open, it was One Banana for John Iwanyk who was first to show, however four or five other runners were cleanly away too, and no runner could comfortably find the front.
Approaching the first corner, there was a line of four across the track, with Special Annie holding the inside narrowly ahead of Top Draw Diva and Marco Said So, while One Banana found itself caught four-wide from box six. Race favourite Easy Peasy was camped on the rails only two lengths away with Strapper’s Angel right alongside.
The bunched packed cornered for home looking similar to the charge of the light brigade. Special Annie tried to hold the front, while the rest fanned out on the corner. Easy Peasy had momentum up and was looking for the split, likewise Strapper’s Angel who was coming home hard and looking to find a way through.
With 50 metres to go the race was still wide open and there was movement galore. Easy Peasy headed off Special Annie, Top Draw Diva and Marco Said So got shuffled back in the middle while Strapper’s Angel switched back to the rail for a last gasp effort.
As the pack whizzed past the post, the black and white rug of Easy Peasy had three quarters of a length prominently displayed and had stolen the prize after being sixth early on. Strappers’ Angel had given Linda Britton the quinella, with One Banana in third place. Both placegetters put in excellent efforts and can count themselves unlucky to not be standing on the top step of the podium; however every runner except Tat Zephyr and Rudge had looked the winner at some stage in a cliff-hanger sprint.
Easy Peasy adds the $25,000 prize to his growing tally of $117,000 overall. It becomes his second Group race victory after pinching the Group 2 Launching Pad ahead of Hutmaker in April last year. His versatility has seen him win over the 595m and 600m in metropolitan Victoria, while also making the W.A Derby final over 530m at Cannington. His career record now stands at 18 wins and 8 minors over 44 outings, including 4 wins and 2 minor placings in W.A since making the trek across the nullabor in October.
With the Group 1 Perth Cup in the not-too-distant future, the performances of Easy Peasy and many of those behind him in the Birthday Cup could prove handy too remember.