Just one night after superstar Hooked On Scotch won the Hobart Thousand, champion trainer Jason Thompson is eyeing off another Group 1 trophy after youngster Roper River Jake produced the standout performance in Friday’s Gold FM Sale Cup heats (650m).
The four Cup heats were dominated by leaders, beginning in the opening qualifier where Roper River Jake faced a daunting assignment, tackling champion Tornado Tears.
On debut at Sale, Tornado Tears started $2.70 favourite from box three, ahead of Roper River Jake, which was the $4.30 second elect from box six, also making his first visit to Sale.
Roper River Jake rose to the challenge in one of his greatest challenges to date, finding the front going through the first turn as Tornado Tears met with early interference and was never a factor from that point.
Roper River Jake broke away from Steinbrenner ($7.40) in the back straight and kept going strongly to score by an ever-widening 5.77 lengths in 36.78s, less than two lengths outside the 650m track record held by Burn One Down.
Like Roper River Jake, Burn One Down was also trained by Thompson and bred by successful NSW breeder David Pringle.
It was Roper River Jake’s eighth win from 20 starts.
Heat two saw a similarly dominant front-running display from box six, with Andrea Dailly’s Rockstar Beav spoiling predictions of a match race between Group 1 Hume Cup winner True Detective ($2.60 favourite) and Tauwitchere ($2.70).
Rockstar Beav was able to find the front at the winning post the first time and he held a decisive advantage turning for home as he downed Tauwitchere by five lengths in 37.04s.
Waging War, prepared by Glenn Rounds, started $2.50 favourite from box eight in the third heat and completed a hat-trick for front-runners, crossing to the top and opening up a massive mid-race lead before holding Blazing Cartier ($7.70) at bay, scoring by 1.27 lengths in 36.94s.
The final heat resulted in another on-pace victory, with Rodney Clark’s Kraken Dust ($9.40), taking advantage of an inside draw, as he had when victorious in the Distance Championship at Sale earlier in the month, in the lead-up to the Cup.
Jumping from box two, Kraken Dust settled second behind the well-fancied leader Jaro Bale ($2.90) and finished best in a blanket finish, defeating Weblec Eagle ($10) by 1.27 lengths in 37.39s, with favourite Red Rock ($2.80) running third.
Roper River Jake will contend with box seven in the Cup Final on Boxing Day, with the other heat winners also drawing awkwardly, with Waging War allocated five, Rockstar Beav eight and Kraken Dust four.
WATCH: Roper River Jake (B6) and Steinbrenner (B8) in the open Sale Cup heat.
WATCH: Rockstar Beav (B6) and Tauwitchere (B5) in the second Gold FM Sale Cup heat.
WATCH: Waging War (B8) and Blazing Cartier (B3) in the third Sale Cup heat.
WATCH: Kraken Dust (B2) and Weblec Eagle (B8) in the final Gold FM Sale Cup heat.