The 2020 Gold Rush maiden series may have been delayed due to COVID-19, but the series has still proven to be a race to unearth exciting sprinting prospects with several outstanding performances in the heats at Bendigo on Saturday evening.
Fastest qualifier Music Event is the only runner in next Friday night’s rich final that had previous race experience coming into the series having had two starts as a youngster at Bathurst in March before shifting to the Kialla kennel of Michael Carter.
Music Event exploded from the boxes posting sizzling sections of 6.42 and 11.15 before stopping the clock at 23.622, one tenth faster than the next fastest heat winner Lalina and marginally quicker than what proven topliner Shima Breeze posted in scoring here 21st career victory holding off group 3 winner Mepunga Daniel in the top grade event later in the evening.
Local hopes in Friday’s final sit with the Dallas Massina-trained Lalina, who showed a tremendous turn of foot soon after the start and clocked similar figures to Music Event, with sectionals of 6.42 and 11.17 before registering 23.728 overall. Lalina is a member of an outstanding litter bred, owned and trained by the Massina family out of their former top chaser Nallak – winner of the 2016 Gold Rush series.
The strongest performance of the heats was that of third fastest qualifier Zipping Albert. A son of up-and-coming sire Over Limit out of former talented chaser and proven producer Zipping Midge was midfield away from the boxes before powering to the line in 12.26 and stopping the clock at 23.772.
WATCH: Zipping Albert (3) showed lightning mid-race speed on his way to a commanding heat win.
Zipping Albert, prepared by Karen Pitt, is certain to be suited more over further distance than the 425m trip of the Gold Rush maiden series, but should he find a more forward position in the early stages on Friday he has a great chance of providing NSW breeders Martin and Fiona Hallinan with their second Gold Rush trophy after Zipping Magda took out the 2019 series. Litter mate Zipping Tiffany will also contest the final as one of the three fastest second placegetters in the heats, giving Pitt and the Hallinans two runners next Friday.
Another finalist looking for more ground is Rockstar Ruby. Trainer Mario Briganti declared in pre-race interviews that Rockstar Ruby and her litter mates will be more suited over 500m plus and the effort of Rockstar Ruby to win and clock 24.158 after being checked and losing momentum at a crucial stage certainly backs up that theory.
Zero Cool was the other heat winner in impressive and strong fashion clocking 24.014 coming off the speed and proving far too strong for the opposition, while Weblec Whirl and Weblec Bloom both qualified after finishing second in their respective heats, giving Matthew Lanigan two runners in the final.
As is often the case the box draw has made the race intriguing with the speed runners Music Event and Lalina drawing boxes four and six respectively with Zipping Albert slotted in between them in box five. Rockstar Ruby has drawn box eight after carrying the red rug in her heat win and Zero Cool goes from a wide heat draw to the rails alley.
The fastest qualifiers will no doubt dominate the betting, but with the box draw falling the way it has and with the benefit of race experience, no runner can be ruled out of contention as connections look for luck in chasing the $10,000 winner’s prize.
Fastest to slowest
MUSIC EVENT (Michael Carter): 23.62sec
LALINA (Dallas Massina): 23.73sec
ZIPPING ALBERT (Karen Pitt): 23.77sec
ZERO COOL (Michelle Nolan): 24.01sec
ROCKSTAR RUBY (Mario Briganti): 24.16sec