It could be a 'Phenomenal' Sale Cup!
After an action packed year of exhilarating chasing, the final Group 1 feature for 2013 is just days away with the Group 1 Sale Cup set to take place on Boxing Day, this Thursday.
The powerful Jason Thompson kennel will be looking to bounce back and claim top honours after kennel star Black Magic Opal was defeated in the Group 1 Hobart Thousand last week. Thompson will be represented in the final by Phenomenal (currently $1.60 with TAB.com.au), an aptly named chaser which is starting to emerge from the shadows of his superstar kennelmate and forge a name for himself at the highest level of racing.
The dark brindle son of Collision and Tocsin started as the odds on favourite to take out his heat and will do the same this Thursday in the final. And rightly so. Phenomenal had won his three starts prior to last Wednesday’s heats in impressive fashion including two victories over the middle distance at both Sandown and Horsham, a distance the 31 kilogram speed machine appeared to have been seeking for a long time. The Pearcedale chaser did not disappoint in his qualifier, leading from box rise to score by almost ten lengths in a slick 39.96s. Drawn in box seven for the $75,000 to the winner final, Phenomenal will have to avoid early interference, but clearly has the class to do so and is definitely the one to beat.
There will be plenty of talent looking to bring the boom speedster undone in the final, including recent Group 3 winner Dyna Willow. The Steve Collins-prepared bitch is on the second line of betting ($4.80) after claiming the fifth heat in 37.23s and will exit box eight for the final- the same box she used to score a strong win over National Distance champ Smart Valentino in the Group 3 Summer Cup at Wentworth Park earlier this month. With four of her last five racetrack appearances resulting in wins, the two and a half year old is in career best form and is more than capable of snaring the prize.
Dyna Willow won’t be the only Wheeler greyhound to contest the event, with Dyna Nalin jumping from box six. The Brendan Wheeler-owned powerhouse is trained by leading mentor Paul Stuart, and will be hoping to secure his third Group 1 victory in the final after already having claimed the Group 1 Perth Cup and Group 1 Topgun for his WA conditioner. Despite being defeated in his heat last week, the Ashom Bale dog remains third favourite ($6) to clinch victory from his Victorian competitors.
Czar, which ran down Dyna Nalin to qualify for the Sale Cup final, will start at bigger odds to triumph in the race than what his heat rival will ($23), despite drawing favourably in box three. The fawn dog celebrated his fourth birthday last Saturday night, but raced like a pup when he caused an upset to land the cash in 37.48s. Prior to his heat win, the son of Flying Penske and Classy Creek had not tasted success on the track in ten starts but, as he proved on Wednesday, there is no stopping the young at heart. A repeat performance would see him right in contention for trainer Robbie Britton who will be represented by three runners in the final.
Britton will also put the polish on American bitch Lucy Wires ($6.50) and Born Ali ($21) with the former, in particular, representing great value based on her performance to qualify for the race. Lucy Wires put on a hard chasing exhibition, something that is fast becoming a trademark for the Flying Penske youngster, to claim the sixth and final heat in 37.51s from box six. Although it was considerably slower than Phenomenal’s best of the night time, there is no denying the 11 time winner has the ability to be very competitive, should she get the opportunity from an unfavourable box four draw.
Born Ali made the final after qualifying as one of the two quickest seconds, despite being run of her feet by Phenomenal in the opening heat of the night. The honest little bitch, which has won 14 races, will more than likely head into the race at big odds, but there is no doubt that the 27 kilogram pocket rocket will be chasing hard and waiting for her chance to shine wearing the yellow rug.
Two battlers will also get a shot at Group 1 glory, with both Kayo Marciarno ($21) and Noaki Spitfire ($35) taking their place for their lesser known, but equally deserving trainers.
Kayo Marciarno saluted in his heat and paid a whopping $21.90 for owner-trainer Gregory Neocleous. The white and fawn chaser had only won seven from 65 prior to last Wednesday, however two of those wins had been in his past three starts- both over the track and distance at Sale. While he may not be seen as a genuine contender for the title by many punters, he has drawn the coveted cherry alley which will be a massive advantage in the classy field.
Rounding out the field will be outsider Noaki Spitfire which was the second favourite in his heat behind Cheetah Zorro when he defeated the Group 1 Bold Trease winner in 37.74s. Again, this time is nowhere near as fast as the best of night but, as we all know, anything can happen in a race. Noaki Spitfire will be there, taking his place from box two for trainer Garry Selkrig, and looking to cause a major upset in one of the biggest middle distance events on the Australian Group Racing Calendar.
The Group 1 Sale Cup is this Thursday and is set to jump at 9:49pm AEDT
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase