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Mepunga ‘Blazes’ to Maturity glory

Jeff Britton won the Group 1 Maturity Classic for the second time in four years on Saturday night when Mepunga Blazer defeated kennelmate Paradiso Lass to reign supreme in the $100,000 to-the-winner age feature. Both Mepunga Blazer, which started even-money favourite, and first reserve Paradiso Lass, which secured a start following the scratching of star Queenslander Fast Times, were able to overcome wide draws in the Maturity to give Britton a rare Group 1 quinella. “It was a real nice surprise they were both able to get across from wide draws. It must’ve been the right side of the track to be on tonight,” said Britton, who won the 2014 Maturity with Mepunga Hayley, which like Mepunga Blazer, was bred and raced by successful breeder Barry Smith, Britton’s partner in many feature race successes.   RACE8_003   “With Mepunga Blazer drawn in box six I was worried about him getting knocked over badly but he was able to get through the first turn without too much of a touch.” Mepunga Blazer, a son of Britton’s 2011 Adelaide Cup heroine and Maturity finalist Mepunga Nicky, started a warm favourite in the Classic despite his awkward alley, courtesy of a scorching 29.64sec semi-final victory, while he also won his heat of the three-week series in a slick 29.97sec. Aston Dinnigan ($7.10) led from box five, while Mepunga Blazer showed great acceleration after a slow getaway to be sitting ominously in a close second rounding the first turn, with Britton’s second finalist Paradiso Lass crossing into third.   RACE8_008   In a commanding display, Mepunga Blazer railed to the lead in the back straight and dashed clear, defeating the hard-closing Paradiso Lass by 1.53 lengths in a fast 29.81sec, with Shadale ($9.10), trained by Jimmy Redenbach, grabbing third. Mepunga Blazer has now won eight of his 14 starts, including five from seven at The Meadows, while he’ll now head to Sandown Park for Thursday night’s National Sprint Championship heats. “I couldn’t really see from behind the boxes but then I saw that both mine had got around the first corner basically untouched,” Britton said.   RACE8_007   “I knew the leader (Aston Dinnigan) wasn’t overly strong and my two are strong so I was just hoping that nothing went wrong from there. “Mepunga Blazer drives into the first corner really well at The Meadows, which he did again tonight. He hasn’t handled the first turn as well at Sandown when he was younger but he’s a bit more experienced now so we’ll see what happens in the National Sprint heats on Thursday. “He’ll be up against the big boys in the Nationals, so we’ll see how he handles it. “Paradiso Lass is getting better and better all the time. Her record could easily be better because she hasn’t really been blessed with box draws – she’s had a lot of wide draws – and she hasn’t been in a lot of easy races either.” It was a night for the favourites at The Meadows, with superstar Burn One Down careering away with the $25,000 to-the-winner Destini Fireball Stayers Final (725m) earlier in the meeting. Trained by Seona Thompson, Burn One Down dominated betting on the Destini Fireball, starting at $1.50, and the result was never in doubt as he defeated Mick’s Angel by six lengths in 42.59sec, improving his sensational record over 725m at The Meadows to 10 from 13.   RACE8_011

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*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie. Photos by Michael McInally and Blue Stream Pictures.

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