Thirteen proved to be an unlucky number for Western Australian sensation Sunset Spitfire when the unbeaten sprinter made his hugely anticipated eastern states debut at The Meadows in Saturday night’s heats of the Group 1 Feikuai Greyhounds Silver Chief.
After 12 consecutive victories in his home state, Sunset Spitfire started $1.30 favourite in the fourth of eight ‘sudden death’ Silver Chief heats following a scorching 29.52s Meadows trial but he tasted defeat for the first time.
In a massive upset, $34 outsider Tyler Durden swept home powerfully to give Jeff Britton the second leg of a heat double, clocking 30.03s, with Sunset Spitfire finishing fifth, an average start and torrid duel for the lead with Utah Blues taking their toll.
Jeff Britton secured his first finalist in heat two, this time with the favourite, as Mepunga Felix ($2.80) took advantage of box one to camp behind South Australian visitor Fly For Trix before racing clear in the home straight, clocking 29.69s.
Britton looked an excellent chance to add a third string to his Classic bow in the sixth run-off when Do It started a warm favourite from box one but he wasn’t able to reel in leader Earn The Answers, trained by Lyn Smith, which posted 29.62s, the fastest qualifying performance.
HEAT WINNERS (Fastest to slowest):
29.62sec Earn The Answers
29.67sec Lakeview Walter
29.69sec Mepunga Felix
29.83sec Papi Go Fast
29.86sec Aussie Secret
30.03sec Tyler Durden
Britton’s partner Angela Langton continued a great night for the Anakie kennel in heat five when $2.60 favourite Jepara came again after being headed mid-race to grab Rolling Stone in the final bounds, clocking 30.06s to claim his fourth win from five starts at The Meadows.
Champion mentor Jason Thompson will take aim at a remarkable sixth Silver Chief crown after also claiming a heat double, taking out the final two run-offs courtesy of Equalizer and Aussie Secret, which both exited the rails alley.
Equalizer was well back on the first turn but produced a huge effort to finish over the top of Hadouken in 29.71s, while Aussie Secret led from go to whoa, running 29.86s to secure the final berth in next Saturday’s decider.
The opening heat saw a memorable result for the Whelan family from Metung, with $12.60 outsider Lakeview Walter, trained by Monique Whelan, leading all-the-way in 29.67s at his Meadows debut to claim his fourth win from six starts.
Papi Go Fast, prepared by Rob Camilleri, lived up to his name in the third run-off, off-setting box four with a 5.00s first split to lead throughout in 29.83s.
GROUP 1 FEIKUAI GREYHOUNDS SILVER CHIEF
Saturday 2 January – The Meadows – 525m
First prize: $100,000
1 PAPI GO FAST (Robert Camilleri, Lara)
2 LAKEVIEW WALTER (Monique Whelan, Metung)
3 TYLER DURDEN (Jeffrey Britton, Anakie)
4 JEPARA (Angela Langton, Anakie)
5 MEPUNGA FELIX (Jeff Britton, Anakie)
6 AUSSIE SECRET (Jason Thompson, Peacedale)
7 EARN THE ANSWERS (Lyn Smith, Nambrok)
8 EQUALIZER (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale)
9 DO IT (Jeff Britton, Anakie)
10 HADOUKEN (Jessica Sharp, Avalon)
WATCH: EARN THE ANSWERS (6) scores a sizzling all-the-way heat win in 29.62sec (Best) despite an incredible show of persistence from DO IT (1).