Airborne NSW visitor La Grand Quality passed the biggest test of his brief career with flying colours and lived up to a record-breaking trial when setting the pace in Saturday night’s Group 2 VW Ballarat Cup heats (450m).
La Grand Quality (pictured above), the winner of six of his ten starts, dominated discussions on the third of four Cup heats after smashing Ballarat’s 390m record in a lead-up trial; however he had to defy an alarming race night betting drift at his first appearance in Group company.
Trainer Darryl Thomas had described the Ballarat Cup foray as going from “park football to first grade”, with La Grand Quality, which got out to $4.40 at box-rise, clashing with the likes of Peter Galo ($3.70 favourite) and Cee Jay’s Boy ($5.40).
The recent Maitland 450m record-breaker began well from box six and quickly found the front as he put his home-state opposition to the sword, romping to a 4.16 length victory over Keeper Of Keys in a flying best of night 24.91s.
Photos by Clint Anderson
La Grand Quality, which has survived two serious car accidents, has now won seven of his last eight starts.
Snags McKenzie continued Little River trainer David Burnett’s hot run and enhanced his perfect record from box one when upsetting Melbourne Cup hero Whiskey Riot in heat two.
Burnett will now be chasing two Group 2 events in the next week, with his boom youngster Simon Told Helen TAB’s $1.75 favourite for Thursday night’s Group 2 Queensland Derby.
Coming off his Melbourne Cup-winning heroics, Anthony Azzopardi’s Whiskey Riot started $1.70 favourite from box four, with the perfectly-drawn Snags McKenzie sent out at $8.60.
Whiskey Riot and kennelmate Fernando Riot were best to begin but Snags McKenzie took full advantage of his inside draw to rail to the lead turning for home and hold Whiskey Riot at bay in 25.08s.
Burnett had previously expressed frustration that it took Snags McKenzie 38 starts to draw box one, but he’s now drawn the red three times in his last seven starts and is yet to taste defeat, also breaking 30 seconds in two Meadows victories.
The opening heat saw Bendigo Cup winner Crimson Vixen qualify for her third country cup final for 2019, having also finished third in her hometown Warrnambool Cup.
Trained by the legendary Norm McCullagh of Bold Trease fame, Crimson Vixen ($3.70) was having just her third start since winning the Bendigo Cup in July but class prevailed as she led all-the-way from box eight, staving off Melbourne Cup runner-up Western Envoy ($1.90 favourite) in 25.25s.
The fourth and final heat was a roughhouse affair, with $34.70 outsider Almapa Berisha, trained by Pasquale Derubeis, upsetting Topgun winner Get It Gizmo ($1.90 favourite) in 25.61s.
WATCH: La Grand Quality (6) wins a heat of the Ballarat Cup in 24.90sec (Best).