The “records are meant to be broken” quote has been around sport’s merry-go-round for what seems an eternity.
But “life is true to form”, as legendary US Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz once said, and a longstanding 450-metre track record went by the wayside at Shepparton tonight.
The 24.82sec mark was first set by Slater, who rode the crest of a wave in December 2006. And it was equalled just over five years later by Cape Hawke in January 2012.
Enter young tyro Hard Style Rico (Jan ’18 Bella Infrared x Bella Rico) who lowered that standard in a heat of the Group 2 Shepparton Cup.
Bred, owned and trained by Luckie Karabitsakos, Hard Style Rico clocked a mind-boggling 24.77sec with a dazzling performance in Heat 2.
A three-time G1 finalist, Hard Style Rico ($1.80F) returned to his brilliant best defeating Get Go Boy ($9.50) by five and three-quarter lengths, with G2 Bendigo Cup winner Crimson Vixen ($2.20) a further quarter of a length away third.
It was Hard Style Rico’s ninth win from 16 starts – and the record didn’t come as a complete surprise. He was the fastest qualifier in the G1 Silver Chief and G1 National Derby, and was a last start finalist in the G1 Australian Cup.
However, Hard Style Rico won’t have it all his own way in Saturday night’s $47,000-to-the-winner final.
He’ll have to contend with comeback king Jebrynah ($1.04F), who registered a sizzling 24.91sec defeating G1 Australian Cup finalist Scatterbox ($8.40) by four and three-quarter lengths in Heat 4.
Trained by Rocky Crisafi, Jebrynah – a winner of 20 races from 32 starts – has only had three starts back since toppling Whiskey Riot in a G1 Maturity Classic heat at The Meadows in July last year. (Jebrynah fractured a sesamoid bone in his left front foot in that win – but still managed to record 29.80sec.)
And speaking of Whiskey Riot… The dual G1 winner didn’t seem at his peak, but his class and courage prevailed in Heat 5.
Let it be said, you don’t win a G1 Melbourne Cup and G1 Temlee, and finish third in a G1 Australian Cup without class and intestinal fortitude.
Trained by Anthony Azzopardi, Whiskey Riot ($1.30F) came from third early to run down the pilot Benchester ($9.60) by just under one length in 25.02sec. It was his 21st win from 43 starts, with stakes totalling almost $800,000.
Other heat winners were: Rothwell Gal (25.11sec), Brace And Bits (25.21) and Revelation (25.25).
2020 CKH PAINTING SHEPPARTON CUP
Saturday 21 March
1 JEBRYNAH (Rocky Crisafi, Pakenham)
2 ROTHWELL GAL (Brett Nye, Little River)
3 BRACE AND BITS (Braden Finn, Devon Meadows)
4 BENCHESTER (Mark Morrissey, Junortoun)
5 REVELATION (Peter Presutto, Devon Meadows)
6 SNAGS MCKENZIE (David Burnett, Little River)
7WHISKEY RIOT (Anthony Azzopardi, Rowsley)
8 HARD STYLE RICO (Luckie Karabitsakos, Pearcedale)
9 GET GO BOY (Aaron Debattista, Toolleen)
10 SCATTERBOX (Jeff Galea, Brookfield)