It’s not often that the fastest and slowest heat winners of any series are less than two lengths apart, but that is exactly the case for the 2013 version of the Mandurah Derby. After four heats were conducted around the one-turn, 490m sprint journey, predicting a clear-cut favourite for the final seems an unlikely task, especially with many good runs amongst the beaten brigade.
The series got underway with a desperately tight photo-finish, when the Kevin Foxton prepared Moodich winning by a nostril over Merlot Monelli, who appeared to be the winner at first look. Moodich had begun well from the cherry draw, and had the race in its keeping until the final turn, before looking for the middle of the track. Allowed to dash up along the paint, Merlot Monelli put in a big run, and watching live it looked as though David Hobby’s runner had got the nod. However the judge awarded the race to the outside dog, with the official time being 27.65 and winning dividend around $14.00.
Race favourite, Too Many Times didn’t begin as well as connections would have hoped, and was three-wide when things were being decided up front by Moodich and Merlot Monelli. Those two runners were almost four lengths ahead of the rest of the field, and will both deservedly take their place next week.
It was another surprise result in the second heat, but the winner was more clear-cut. Tricky Knox for Terry Erenshaw was too good on this occasion, leading all the way and clocking 27.67. Again it was the advantage of the rails draw which allowed the son of Bit Chili to find the front and win by over four lengths, paying $9.10 for those good enough to pick him.
Former Tasmanian chaser Jack O’Rielly, now in the care of Linda Britton, put in a great run to make the final, after it was back last early and suffered a couple of decent whacks along the way. It will no doubt be improved after that effort and will be a live chance to take the series if it can step with them from box two.
Special Jim and Slava Monelli were the more fancied runners in that event starting $2.70 and $3.80 respectively. Special Jim was unable to find clear space once it was crossed by Tricky Knox and wound up sixth, while Slava Monelli put in a strong performance to overcome an interrupted start and run third.
The next heat was expected to be an even affair, with five of the eight runners starting under $7.00 on the local tote. However, it turned out to be a one-dog affair thanks to Lexia Isaac’s Knight Fun, who brought up his eighth career win. Starting from box three, Knight Fun tussled early with Lochinvar Roca, before gaining the upper hand off the back straight. From there the race was over from a winning viewpoint, and interest was in the second qualifying spot.
On the line Knight Fun had three lengths to play with and stopped the clock at 27.69, which was a new PB. Celtic Coin, from the star-studded Primo Uno-West on Lee litter got up for second, despite a poor beginning, and luckily avoided the early race carnage that claimed several scalps.
Outside of the winner, the run of the race came from the yellow-vested Talk and Sit, who made up a heap of ground after dropping out the boxes and running into roadblocks. Talk and Sit will start as a reserve for the final, but stands a good chance if gaining a run and his box manners can improve.
Wrapping up the Derby heats was Set Sail South, who has been transferred from Victoria to the Linda Britton kennels. Both it and littermate Supersonic Hawk showed enough to suggest that the move will become worthwhile, especially considering the times they have set around metropolitan tracks previously.
On this occasion though, Special Pup was the best to begin and had a good break for the first half of the race. With about 200 metres left to travel, threats started to emerge from the pack and Set Sail South had been given clear galloping room. Looming large on the home corner, the Westmead Hawk – Shelby Shiraz dog was far too strong for Special Pup in the straight, bounding away for an impressive 27.61 win. Special Pup will go around again next week courtesy of second place, while the Supersonic Hawk was third.
The final will be conducted Friday night and carries a $12,000 winner’s prize. As suggested earlier, it will be very tough to navigate through the form and find a standout pick in a race where a clean beginning will be so important.
2013 Mandurah Derby Final
Box 1 – Special Pup (Bill Skipper)
Box 2 – Jack O’Rielly (Linda Britton)
Box 3 – Moodich (Kevin Foxton)
Box 4 – Merlot Monelli (David Hobby)
Box 5 – Tricky Knox (Terry Erenshaw)
Box 6 – Set Sail South (Linda Britton)
Box 7 – Knight Fun (Lexia Isaac)
Box 8 – Celtic Coin (John Crossley)
Premier Fun (Lexia Isaac)
Talk and Sit (Linda Britton)