Cranebrook trainer Melinda Finn returned to the winner's circle for the first time in 2014 with Winsome Prince, who was ultra-impressive in a heat of the Group Three Dapto Maiden Series.
Starting at skinny odds of $1.90, the beautifully bred son of Barcia Bale and Winsome Shiraz stepped beautifully from the four alley and accelerated away to score by seven and a half lengths in a flying time of 29.77. The 36kg heavyweight is now the firm favourite heading into next week's semi-finals and will have plenty of supports after a superb debut. Doozy and Restless Heart filled the minor placings, whilst Bedlam Bridge finished fourth.
A talented first heat saw Julie Fletcher's Whittaker the $1.70 favourite, closely followed by Jason Mackay's talented youngster Zipping Saxton. After a poor start, and plenty of interference, Whittaker found the rails heading into the back straight and zoomed past his rivals, saluting by fourteen lengths in a fast 29.86. The son of Milldean Panther and Mrs Trickett recorded the fastest run home of the night clocking 12.42 and will only need some luck early on to be a huge threat next week. Zipping Saxton finished strongly after finding early trouble, with Get Out Claws and So Far the other semi-final qualifiers.
Paua Explosion stepped out in heat two as the $2.40 favourite, however faded in the latter stages to finish fourth. After a good start, Owen Langley's Debbie's Prince prevailed by a length and a half over the fast-finishing Diablo's Secret, with early leader Bronco's Prance running third. The son of Magic Sprite and Nimbastic recorded 30.25 on the clock and looks set to improve for next week.
Anthony Azzopardi led out the $1.80 favourite in heat three, with Topper Road all the rage exiting from box eight. Stepping beautifully from the wide draw the son of Oaks Road and Uno Emi was never headed in a 30.08 performance, saluting by nine and a quarter lengths. Mr. Emgrand for Luke Azzopardi finished second, whilst Zipping Jacob ran third. Charlees Jackpot finished in fourth to qualify for next week.
Steve White's Paua To Escape stepped out as the $2.30 favourite in a wide-open fourth heat, with Cleaning Money and It Happened also well supported by punters. The beautifully bred Cleaning Money by El Grand Senor and Clay Model stepped beautifully from box two and led all the way in 30.20 for trainer Gary Adams. Paua To Escape balanced up after striking trouble early on to finish second and It Happened placed third. Avatar Princess finished fourth for Matthew Wotton to qualify for next week.
There were plenty of strong chances in heat five, with Talking Fancy and Kiddie Cuts made equal favourites, with Martin Clegg also in the market. Outsider Fast Country was best away from box four, with Colt Rocket in second place heading into the back straight. The Amy Bennett trained chaser was two strong at the finish, saluting by four and three quarter lengths in a time of 30.27.
Mark Gatt blooded a newcomer in heat seven with Jett Setter, who was made the $2.60 favourite from box five. After finding trouble early on he was no match for Dean Swain's Ella Has Class, who began quickly from box three and held off early challengers to score by two and three quarter lengths in 30.21. The daughter of Bekim Bale and Bralyn Ella showed good early signs on debut and look for improvement on the clock next week. Second favourite Dragon Emgrand gave Luke Azzopardi his fifth qualifier for next week's semi finals and Heard ‘em Say finished fourth.
Master Shot started as the red-hot favourite in the eighth and final heat for trainer Dave Pringle and made punters extremely nervous early on after missing the jump and finding a heap of trouble. Mark Gatt's Encapsulate skipped away down the back, before the son of Brett Lee and Midnight Movie charged home to salute by two and a half lengths in 30.20. Encapsulate held on to finish second and Unbroken ran third. Nifty Reign finished in fourth and will take his place in the semi-finals next week.
Next week's semi-finals will decide which eight finalists will be vying for a first prize of $25,000 in the final.