Brilliant Victorian youngster Lightning Frank (pictured above) will take aim at his third Group 1 triumph at The Meadows for 2017 after stealing the show in Saturday night’s heats of the Group 1 Sky Racing Australian Cup (525m).
Winner of the Silver Chief in January, the Mathew Wright-trained speedster backed up from his dominant all-the-way victory in the invitation-only Temlee one week earlier when producing another flawless front-running exhibition in the sixth of eight star-studded Cup heats.
Drawn in box eight, Lightning Frank ($2.60 fav) clocked blistering sections of 4.94sec and 17.40sec as he set The Meadows alight, posting 29.53sec, his sixth win from his last seven starts with the defeat being a third in the Group 1 National Derby.
“He has surprised me again tonight. It’s almost scary the splits he ran, especially the second split, and to finish off the way he did was incredible,” a delighted Mathew Wright said.
“He truly just keeps on surprising me, he is a once in a lifetime dog.
“To win next week he has to mimic what he did in his heat. There are some quality dogs in the Cup. Eminent Reality’s heat win really impressed me.”
Wright wasn’t the only observer impressed by Eminent Reality’s performance earlier in the night, with the Western Australian import making light of Kel Greenough’s fears about a lack of early pace when finishing powerfully to win heat two in 29.60sec.
Eminent Reality, a son of former WA star Zelemar Fever, winner of the Group 1 Temlee during the 2014 Australian Cup Carnival, took advantage of box one when defeating another Western Australian Penny Monelli, his eighth win from 12 starts.
“He’s a young dog who can really run the hands off the clock and he showed tonight what a difference it can make when he draws inside and gets a clear run,” Kel Greenough said.
“He is tardy early so he will need a lot of luck next week, but he’s in there and that’s very exciting.
“The closest we’ve got to winning an Australian Cup was when High Earner ran second five or six years ago.
“Group 1 races are so hard to win, but he’s in there and I’m just hoping he does something.”
Eminent Reality denied leading WA trainer Dave Hobby a heat to heat double after he won the opening run-off with Monaro Monelli, which stormed home at his Meadows debut, running 30.13sec.
Jason Thompson’s prolific Aston Bolero bounced back from a very rare poor performance in the Temlee when carving across to the lead from box seven en route to winning the third heat in 29.92sec, his 46th career victory.
Robert Britton’s decision to revert to sprinting with Fanta Bale rather than stepping her up to 725m for the Group 1 Super Stayers heats after her victory in the middle distance Rookie Rebel on the opening night of the Cup Carnival paid off handsomely when she won heat four in 29.98sec.
Melbourne Cup finalist Matt Machine gave owner/breeders Jamie and Brooke Ennis another huge thrill when recovering from an average start to record a courageous 29.84sec victory in heat five.
“I was rapt with his performance tonight. To beat this field is a credit to him and Jamie,” Brooke said.
“This is his third Group 1 final which is amazing because he is still a young dog, and we will be hoping for third time lucky with him next week.
“It is so rewarding to watch a greyhound you bred, reared and now train compete at group level and get better with age.”
Darren Pattinson’s powerhouse chaser Blazin’ Bomber, runner-up to Fanta Bale in the Rookie Rebel seven nights earlier, qualified for another feature final when utilising the rails alley to claim a strong-finishing 29.74sec victory in the seventh qualifier.
Aeroplane Bob gave Jason Thompson a second finalist, following the earlier victory of Aston Bolero, when finishing strongly along the inside to take out the final heat in 30.04sec.
2017 AUSTRALIAN CUP
Saturday night, 4 March – 525 metres
$250,000 (1st); $70,000 (2nd); $35,000 (3rd)
1. EMINENT REALITY – Kelvyn Geenough (Pearcedale, VIC)
2. AEROPLANE BOB – Jason Thompson (Pearcedale, VIC)
3. LIGHTNING FRANK – Mathew Wright (Allansford, VIC)
4. MONARO MONELLI – David Hobby (Nambeelup, WA)
5. BLAZIN’ BOMBER – Darren Pattinson (Pearcedale, VIC)
6. MATT MACHINE – Jamie Ennis (Lara, VIC)
7. ASTON BOLERO – Jason Thompson (Pearcedale, VIC)
8. FANTA BALE – Robert Britton (Lara, VIC)
9. PENNY MONELLI – David Hobby (Nambeelup, WA)
10. INVICTUS RAPID – Jason Thompson (Pearcedale, VIC)