Who will make their way through to Saturday week’s $550,000 Group 1 Australian Cup – the 60th running of one of Australia’s most prestigious greyhound races?
Heat 1 – Looks a race between last week’s Group 1 Temlee finalists Poke The Bear (box one) and Slick (box four), who ran second behind Striker Light in a barnstorming display. Poke The Bear draws an inside draw for the first time in four starts and looks very hard to beat. Punters seem to agree after being backed from $12 to a $4 outright favourite to win March 3’s Australian Cup.
Heat 2 – Despite an awkward draw, Bewildering (box six) looks to have a class edge on his rivals in the second heat of the night. A repeat of his Silver Bullet victory at The Meadows in October – where he ran 29.75 – would certainly be enough to win this. Pace in the race will come from the classy Not Available (box two) and Opal Nera (box eight), who made last year’s Group 1 Maturity on the track. Rookie Rebel winner Dyna Dean (box seven) drops in distance but is racing in career-best form.
Heat 3 – Group 1 Temlee finalist Raw Ability (box seven) has been racing in superb fashion, recording a 29.73PB at The Meadows on February 10 after his outstanding Paws Of Thunder win. Cranbourne Cup winner Mossimo Bale (box two) is also racing in fine fashion and looks well drawn in this. Extreme Magic (box eight) has a nice record from wide draws (he’s won nine of his 16 starts from boxes six, seven or eight) but will need to settle closer if he is to figure in the finish. Bruce Tycoon (box one) is lining up for start number 130 on Saturday night.
Heat 4 – Dual Group 1-winning chaser Out Of Range will be looking to atone for his seventh-placed effort in last week’s Temlee where he found no luck. His runs prior had been outstanding and looks the one to hold out. He takes on two female chasers with huge claims, including the ultra-talented Brueghelino (box one) and Lila Bale (box five) – a speedy greyhound with a sensational 29.72PB at The Meadows. Group 1 Perth Cup winner Equanimity (box seven) will face a tough task at his first start at The Meadows.
Heat 5 – Last week’s Temlee heroine Striker Light (box two) will be looking to continue her successful Oz Cup Carnival by qualifying for her 15th Group final next Saturday night. She faces off against powerhouse chasers Hecton Bale (box three) – a recent Maidment Memorial and Western Districts Derby winner – and Dyna Chancer, one of the boom pups in Australia. The son of Dyna Double One and Cailyn Bale has won six of his seven starts at The Meadows, and all of those have come by breaking the magical 30-second mark. Meadows specialist Mystery Ride (box one) has won more races off the red box than any other draw in his impressive career.
Heat 6 – Up Hill Jill (box one) returns to the track with a less-than-ideal preparation, but she’s one of the best chasers in the land for a reason. She looks the leader and is still the greyhound to beat. Dyna Wazza (box six) has metro PBs of 29.83 at The Meadows and 29.31 at Sandown, so his class cannot be questioned. Hasten Slowly (box two) looks to be returning to the form we saw earlier in his career after a super come-from-behind prelim win last weekend.
Heat 7 - Aston Dee Bee (box two) has had an extraordinary period of racing more recently, helping him close in on $800,000 in prizemoney. The son of Barcia Bale and Aston Elle is well drawn and looks very hard to beat. He takes on Group 1 Maturity placed Degani, who has been allotted box one, while Jury (box three) is the reigning National Sprint Champ and does possess lots of speed. His 29.92 trial at the track last week strengths his claims. Monster Fish (box seven) has placed in two Country Cups (Traralgon and Cranbourne) in recent starts and is blessed with high speed.
Heat 8 – Chasin’ Crackers (box two) has placed in a whopping five Group 1 finals – the latest a second behind Dyna Dean in last weekend’s Rookie Rebel over 600 metres. Can he make Group 1 number six? His rivals include Group 1 Melbourne Cup finalist Kouta Mayhem (box three) and third placegetter in last year’s Easter Egg Big Flood (box seven), who is racing in very fine fashion. South Australian visitor Honcho Monelli (box four) ran a sensational 29.77 at The Meadows on February 10 and will be getting home hard.