Victoria’s leading trainer, Andrea Dailly, stole the limelight in today’s Group 2 TAB Warrnambool Cup heats (450m).
It was also day of sensations where the hot pots were beaten!
Dailly lines up with half the field in next Wednesday night’s final and will be chasing back-to-back Warrnambool Cup victories. She scored with champion Dyna Patty last year.
And Dailly is aiming for her fourth Warrnambool Cup, having also won with Sun Hero (2005) and Dyna Bert (2012).
Dailly will rug heat winners Leon Bale, Aston Cade and Faithy Bale, along with Jax Bale (one of the two fastest second place-getters), in the $31,500-to-the-winner final.
Dailly ‘came out running’ as quick as her cup aspirants.
There was high drama in Heat 1 with several runners – including Crimson Vixen ($1.90F) and Zambora Lou ($3.70) – involved in a scrimmage at the first turn.
Subsequently it allowed the Dailly-trained Leon Bale to skip away with a handy break.
Leon Bale ($9.00) – a litter brother of dual G1 finalist Jaro Bale – defeated Thistle Smoke ($9.40) by five lengths, with Zambora Lou a further six and three-quarter lengths away third in 25.47sec. It was his 10th win from 43 starts.
Dailly quinellaed Heat 2 with star prospect G1 Australian Cup finalist Aston Cade and star prospect Jax Bale.
Aston Cade (Box 4) came out running but was caught three-wide as Aston Stealth (Box 1) and Jax Bale (Box 2) showed superior pace in the dash to the first turn.
But Aston Cade ($3.30) wouldn’t be denied and got up right on the line to defeat Jax Bale ($5.30), with Aston Stealth ($4.00) one and a quarter lengths away third in 25.12sec. He has now won 13 races from 34 starts.
In Heat 3, Faithy Bale ($10.10) led throughout from Box 1 and caused an upset toppling Jim Zarr Dashian ($3.00) – who recently broke Bendigo’s 425-metre track record – by almost two lengths, with Nadali ($10.90) a further two and a half lengths away third in 25.39sec. Faithy Bale snared her 10th win from 23 starts.
Group 2 Shepparton Cup winner Hard Style Rico ($2.20F) – who broke the Shepparton 450-metre track record in a cup heat and is a triple G1 finalist – finished eighth.
Raging hot favourite Tiggerlong Tonk ($1.20F), who currently wears Australia’s No. 1 sprinter tag, was never a chance in Heat 4 after a tardy start.
However, the Jason Thompson-trained Razor Sharp ($11.10) utilised his rails draw to maximum advantage defeating Spearhead ($21.10) by a half-length, with Halberd Bale ($20.10) a further one length away third in 25.24sec.
He landed his 14th win from 23 starts, which is a great strike rate of 61%.
Thompson has won four Warrnambool Cups – El Galo (2008), Hanify’s Impact (2009), Ronan Izmir (2013) and Black Magic Opal (2014).
Dual G1 winner Simon Told Helen (Box 1) and rising star Zambora Smokey (Box 4) staged a battle royal in Heat 5 until turning for home.
But it was Zambora Smokey ($3.30) who powered away over the concluding stages to record his seventh successive win defeating Simon Told Helen ($1.60F) by almost two and a half lengths, with Aeroplane Eric ($6.30) a further one length away third in 25.08sec (Best).
Zambora Smokey, who gives Thompson a dual chance in the final, has won 11 races from 15 starts and is undefeated in three starts over 450m at Warrnambool – including a stunning 24.86sec PB.
Fortunately for trainer David Burnett, Simon Told Helen has made the final, being one of the two fastest second place-getters.
Seven-time group race finalist Snags McKenzie, also trained by Burnett, encountered more trouble than the early explorers in Heat 6.
Snags McKenzie came out well from Box 2, but Security Code (Box 1) pushed underneath him and from there he just kept running into a ‘dead end’.
But take nothing away from Security Code ($6.60) who defeated Snags McKenzie ($3.30) by one and a half lengths, with Iago Bale ($8.60) a further four and three-quarter lengths away third in 25.59sec. Speed Star ($2.10F) finished fourth.
Trained by Angel Langton, Security Code has now won 10 races from 35 starts.
Heat winners (fastest to slowest):
Zambora Smokey 25.08sec; Aston Cade 25.12sec; Razor Sharp 25.24sec; Faithy Bale 25.39sec; Leon Bale 25.47sec & Security Code 25.59sec.
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Photos by: Clint Anderson.