Local star Neo Cleo is poised to claim a deserved feature race victory on Boxing Day after romping to time honours in Sunday night’s Group 1 98.3 Gold FM Sale Cup heats (650m).
Owned and trained by Wendy Neocleous at Hazelwood North, Neo Cleo claimed her third straight victory at Sale, having led throughout in a heat and final of the Sale Distance Championship over the Cup course over the previous fortnight.
The daughter of Cosmic Rumble has been one of Australia’s most consistent middle distance performers throughout the second half of 2018, finishing runner-up in both the Group 1 Hume Cup, beaten less than a length, and Group 2 McKenna Memorial, while most recently she was a finalist in the Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial on Melbourne Cup night.
Drawn in box one in the last of three Sale Cup heats, Neo Cleo started at a prohibitive $1.30, with Juniper Pearl ($8.80), winner of the Sir John Dillon Memorial, the only other runner at single figures.
Neo Cleo came out running from her rails alley and after getting the better of Juniper Pearl it was one-way traffic as she careered away in the home straight, defeating Van Ann by 6.46 lengths in 36.87sec, improving her perfect record at Sale to three from three.
In heat one, Robert Britton’s last start Group 1 Bold Trease victor Barcali started at $1.80 but the series favourite was shuffled back to second last as Joe Borg’s Myrniong Corner ($8.20) shot clear and opened up a decisive lead.
Myrniong Corner made every post a winner, defeating Billy’s Bake ($11.80) by 3.23 lengths in 37.16sec, with Barcali finishing into third; however he’s only first reserve for the final, as the ‘slowest’ third placegetter.
Like Neo Cleo, Correy Grenfell’s multiple Group 1 finalist Dyna Chancer earned another crack at a feature trophy after taking out the second heat.
While he’d been beaten at his previous nine starts, Dyna Chancer started $3 favourite and finished best to defeat Blackjack Neo ($5.10), Neo Cleo’s litter brother and kennelmate, by 3.57 lengths in 36.97sec, with Group 1 Hume Cup winner Black Impala ($4.20) in third.
Dyna Chancer’s young trainer Correy Grenfell will be chasing Group 1 glory on two fronts over the Christmas period, with classy speedster Orson Allen to contest the Hobart Thousand on Thursday night.
Fastest qualifier Neo Cleo has drawn box six for the $75,000 to-the-winner final, with her brother Blackjack Neo drawing the red, while Dyna Chancer will have to contend with box five, as he did in his heat, and Myrniong Corner will exit box two.
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