The Group 1 Albion Park Gold Cup on Thursday night was shaping up to be a battle of the football codes with Tuavasa Shek (named after the flying Sydney Roosters NRL fullback, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck) taking on Dzeko (named after the brilliant Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko) in the $84,700 to the winner feature event.
Unfortunately, Tuavasa Shek (the greyhound), the pre-post even money favourite for the Gold Cup, suffered a career threatening injury in his last piece of work on Tuesday morning and has been scratched which now leaves the race wide open with Dzeko and Lady Toy heading the fixed odds betting markets with TAB.com.au.
Although drawn awkwardly in box 5 with the good beginner but wide runner Cosmic Vee Bee drawn directly inside her, I’m tipping that Dzeko can continue on her consistent form of late and add her first Group 1 title to her resume.
After beginning well and leading clearly from box 1 in her heat last week, Dzeko eased off the fence down the back straight which allowed Cyndie’s Magic to rail underneath her and take the lead as they headed into the second last turn, however, within a matter of strides, Dzeko put on the ‘afterburners’ and raced away for a comfortable victory from the fast finishing Luna Jinx to score by 2 ½ lengths in the time of 42.00 seconds.
There may have been some questions raised about Dzeko’s racing pattern down the back straight but I put it down to the fact that she had never raced over the 710 metres at Albion Park prior to last week and that she ‘got lost’ in the run. Her acceleration from the top turn to the finish post was brilliant and with that run under her belt I think she can win on Thursday night.
Her recent form includes a win in the Listed Racecaller’s event at Sandown Park and two starts prior to that, she beat champion stayer Sweet It Is fairly and squarely in the G3 Lizrene at the same venue in a best-of-night 41.55 seconds. Sweet It Is then went on to win her second consecutive G1 Sandown Cup before venturing ‘across the ditch’ to claim the G1 Silver Collar at Manakau last Sunday and I have no doubt that if Sweet It Is was in the Gold Cup final against the opposition that will line-up, she would have started a prohibitive odds-on favourite.
With the scratchings of both Tony Brett trained runners, Tuavasa Shek and Luna Jinx, the hardest for Dzeko to beat is undoubtedly Lady Toy who has been the perennial ‘Group 1 bridesmaid’ this year behind the likes of Sweet It Is and Space Star and is the class runner of the race, while local gallopers Hougenie and the second reserve and 600m track record holder Mullaway, who will now start from box 2, could figure in the minor placings.
My tips in the G1 Albion Park Gold Cup that is scheduled to jump at 8.45pm (AEST) are; Dzeko from Lady Toy, Hougenie and Mullaway.
The Listed Flying Amy Classic is the other feature event on Thursday night’s card at Albion Park and it shapes up as a sensational race with boom youngster Pop The Cork drawn in box 1 and recent G3 Rockhampton Cup winner Whata Nice Size in box 2.
Pop The Cork again threatened the 520m track record last week when he came from well off the pace in the early stages to run 29.59, just 2/100ths outside the record, however, he can’t afford to give Whata Nice Size (who accounted for Pop The Cork in the recent Mick Byrne Memorial final at Albion Park) too big a start in the run or he will find himself in deep bother.
The night Pop The Cork comes out running from the boxes is the night that we will see the Albion Park 520m track record obliterated and that may well be this week.
The Flying Amy Classic is Race 5 on the card and is due to start at 8.05pm and my tips are; Pop The Cork from Whata Nice Size, Elusive Desire and Fabulous Storm.
I’ll be live trackside at Albion Park on Thursday night from 6.30pm on Sky Racing 1 (Ch519) for what is shaping up to be a terrific night of chasing action – let’s hope we can find plenty of winners.
Good luck and good punting
Listed - East Cape Guineas
G3 - Kings Cup
G2 - Resource Recycling Superstars Championship
G3 - Lamb & Hayward 4&5yo Trotting Championship
G2 - Storer Motors Nz Trotting Oaks