Footy pundits often espouse that the home ground bias is worth a few points start while in greyhound racing, home track experience often translates to a couple of lengths advantage.
In recent years, WA trained chasers have always held that advantage over the eastern seaboard raiders who have trekked across the Nullabor in search of G1 Perth Cup glory, but in 2016, that advantage has been dissipated somewhat after the new Cannington circuit was unveiled just four weeks ago.
In last week’s heats of the Sky Racing Perth Cup, twenty two Victorian chasers made the journey west but only two greyhounds (Blazin’ Bomber and Shared Equity) emerged victorious after the four ‘big guns’, Dalgetty, Moreira, Unlawful Entry and Above All, all failed in their quest to progress through to this week’s $150,000 to the winner final.
None of the locals have had more than four starts over the 520m trip at the new track so on that basis, Shared Equity (which has had two starts at Cannington) and Blazin’ Bomber are not that far behind the locals in terms of experience on the track which could prove vital on Saturday night.
There’s never been any doubt as to the ability of Blazin’ Bomber ($2.20 with TAB Fixed Odds) but the son of Kinloch Brae has often been his own worst enemy in major races by being tardily away from the boxes.
Last week he began on terms with the field from box 3 (the same box he has in the final) and was able to lead clearly at the first turn. He was chased throughout by G1 Golden Easter Egg victor, Moreira, who had the ‘sit’ on him from down the back straight, but the Darren Pattinson trained chaser was too strong at the finish to score by ¾ of a length in 29.85, the fastest time of the eight heats.
Shared Equity ($8.50) is the veteran of 11 Group race finals and in December last year, she was able to claim the G2 Ballarat Cup final displaying her customary brilliant early pace from the boxes when holding off G1 winner and Sandown Park track record holder, Unlawful Entry.
But while Shared Equity can often burn off the fastest chasers in Australian from the boxes to the first turn, she also has been ‘hit and miss’ at box rise in feature events hence her record of just one feature race victory.
There’s no doubt that Ramifications ($3.20) has taken to the new Cannington track like the proverbial ‘duck to water’ and his record of four starts for four wins at the track and distance, is testament to the fact that the Chris Halse prepared galloper has fast earnt the reputation as a track specialist.
An extremely reliable beginner, Ramifications has also trimmed up his times from a 30.35 first up win to a brilliant 29.88 victory in his heat last week, and from box 2, he is drawn to make his own luck in the final on Saturday night.
As always, the box draw has proven to be crucial to the chances of many runners and that is certainly the case for Ima Wagtail ($6) who has drawn the cherished inside box.
The John Iwanyk prepared greyhound has a 100% winning record at the track with a 29.97 PB and from box 1 has won two of his four attempts – the old saying that ‘the red in a big race final is worth a couple of lengths’ certainly brings Ima Wagtail into serious contention for the race.
The new track at Cannington is certainly suiting front running sprinters and on that basis I’m tipping Ramifications to take out the Cup from Blazin’ Bomber, Shared Equity and Ima Wagtail with the $150,000 to the winner feature event due to start at 11.27pm WA time, 9.27pm on the east coast.
The other feature event on the card is the G1 Sky Racing Galaxy over 715m, and to my mind, and to the bookies as well, it appears to be a two dog race between Seeking Justice, and the vastly improved, Lioness Lulu.
The Mark Giddings prepared Lioness Lulu ($2.20), scored the biggest win of her career when claiming the G1 Association Cup at Wentworth Park in late March and then backed that up with a solid second in the G3 Gold Cup final at the same venue two starts later.
In last week’s heat win, she led throughput to score by more than eight lengths from Ryno’s Raider and from box 7 in the final, she should again be in the leading division at the winning post the first time around and I think she is the one to beat.
Seeking Justice ($2) ran the fastest time of the heats when clocking 42.41, around 3.5 lengths faster than Lioness Lulu, and the Group 1 Zoom Top placegetter is the obvious danger after drawing the inside box.
In the G1 Sky Racing Galaxy, I’ve put Lioness Lulu on top from Seeking Justice, Dyna Nihilist and Hodor.
History will be made at Cannington this Saturday night and I’ll be live trackside from 8.30pm (AEST) on Sky Racing 1 (Ch519) with all the Late Mail tips and interviews with connections of the leading chances in both the Perth Cup and Galaxy.
Good luck and good punting!
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