It was billed as a country club manager’s dream and last night’s heats of the Group Listed Western Districts Derby and Lil Dickie Oaks, and preludes of the Ballarat Distance Challenge lived up to all the fanfare.
Heading the hype was dual Group 1 finalist Tiggerlong Tonk in a Derby heat (450m).
Prepared by Correy Grenfell, Tiggerlong Tonk ($1.20F) was simply electrifying accounting for Alcott ($16.80) by almost seven and a half lengths in a flying 24.91sec.
WATCH: Tiggerlong Tonk (2) claim a Western Districts Derby heat in 24.91sec.
Tiggerlong Tonk, who recently won the Anniversary Trophy at Ballarat, is undefeated from three starts on this circuit. His winning time last night was identical to the personal best he set on November 27 last year.
However, Tiggerlong Tonk won’t have it all his own way in the final considering the equally impressive heat performance of Aston Cade.
Trained by Andrea Dailly, Aston Cade ($3.70) caused a surprise result defeating Triple Double ($17.30) by four and a half lengths, with glamour speedster Hard Style Rico ($1.30F) a hard-luck story almost four and a half lengths away third in a sizzling 24.90sec.
Fair to say, Aston Cade was expected to be no pushover following two 29.91sec victories at The Meadows.
Other Derby heat winners were Mandalorian ($1.60F), who clocked a smart 25.04sec, and Impending ($2.70F), who registered 25.24sec in toppling G1 Silver Chief runner-up Aston Wizard ($2.20F) by nearly seven lengths.
In another minor upset, Faithy Bale ($5.10) defeated three-time G3 finalist Mepunga Maggie ($1.60F) in an Oaks heat (450m).
Trained by Andrea Dailly, Faithy Bale posted a scintillating 24.91sec in scoring by five lengths.
The remaining Oaks heat was taken out by the Cassandra James-trained Imminent Reality ($5.90) who defeated G1 National Futurity finalists Aston Perignon ($4.20) and Run Baba Run ($4.60) in 25.27sec.
It was a big night for Dailly, which is not unfamiliar, as she also took out two of the three Distance Challenge preludes (660m).
In fact, she quinellaed one with litter brothers Rockstar Beav ($4.80) and Rockstar Prince ($2.40F) in 37.76sec, and another with Shima Mist ($1.60F) in 38.25sec.
But they were overshadowed by the dynamic display of Up And About.
Prepared by Gerard O’Keeffe, Up And About ($5.40) produced a massive nine-length win over Bronelly Jacob ($2.70F) in an incredible 37.68sec – only one-tenth of a second outside the 37.59sec track record set by Lady Toy in December 2014.