Like most greyhound racing purists, I had this ‘Friday on my mind’ immediately the fields for the Group 2 Evans Petroleum Warrragul Cup heats (460m) were released.
Excuse the pun but there wasn’t one ‘easybeat’ contesting the six heats, which kicked off the middle leg of Gippsland’s triple-tiered ‘Festival of Racing’.
The Warragul GRC staged a provincial showcase tonight… And, not surprisingly, the ‘cream always rises to the top’.
It’s said, “records are made to be broken” and superstar Shima Shine did just that in Heat 3.
Trained by Andrea Dailly, Shima Shine ($1.90F) smashed the track record with a believe-it-or-not sizzling 25.19sec display of unadulterated speed. His winning time carved 2.5L off the previous mark of 25.34sec, set by 2018 Warragul Cup winner Aston Dee Bee on December 6, 2016.
Contesting his first start since the G1 Melbourne Cup final in late November, the G1 Topgun winner recorded his third win from four starts at Warragul. Incredibly, it was his eighth win in 10 starts from Box 8. He was TAB’s $4 favourite to take out the $47,000-to-the-winner series.
WATCH: SHIMA SHINE (8) sets a new track record at Warragul running 25.187sec.
Freakish young talent Equalizer – a younger half-brother of retired G1 sprint queen Black Opium – staged a herculean effort in Heat 2.
A conspicuous last from the traps, the Jason Thompson-trained star of the future ran into a couple of ‘dead-ends’ before miraculously scoring in 25.50sec.
A finalist in last week’s G1 Silver Chief, Equalizer ($3.40) notched his fourth win from seven starts over Warragul’s 460m trip. He was quoted at $31 on TAB’s ‘All In’ market.
WATCH: EQUALIZER (8) scores a stunning last-to-first win in a slick 25.50sec, the second best time in the heats.
Ultra-consistent speedster Zipping Zarbo ($3.90) narrowly defeated the ‘Face of Gippsland’, Catch The Thief ($1.70F), in Heat 6.
Prepared by Deb Coleman, Zipping Zarbo accounted for the “Briagolong Bullet” by 0.27L in 25.57sec. It was her 19th win from 39 starts, and she was at $51 for the final going into the heats.
WATCH: ZIPPING ZARBO (4) scores an all-the-way win while CATCH THE THIEF (8) works hard to only just scrape into the final.
Shockwaves reverberated around Heat 5 when Simon Told Helen – the nation’s No. 1 sprinter, four-time G1 winner and Australian Greyhound of the Year – finished fifth.
The race went to the highly underrated Amarillo Highway ($15.80), trained by Glenn Rounds, who saluted in 25.59sec. It was his fourth win from six starts over Warragul’s 460m trip. Prior to the heats, Amarillo Highway was a $201 chance for the final.
WATCH: The champ SIMON TOLD HELEN (6) was on the end of some buffeting as AMARILLO HIGHWAY (1) storms home to pip JAX BALE (3).
Meanwhile, the Benjamin Magri-trained Aston Gwen ($6.10) – $31 on TAB’s ‘All In’ market – made it four straight wins, clocking 25.65sec in Heat 1. At her previous start, she won the G2 Laurels Classic.
WATCH: Laurels winner ASTON GWEN (6) takes out her heat in determined fashion paying $6.10 for the win.
And Dream Wizard ($5.00), who also waves his magic wand on the coursing scene, cast a winning spell in Heat 4.
Trained by Sean Lithgow, Dream Wizard – one of form expert The Watchdog’s ‘All In’ value bets for the series at $101 (win) and $26 (place) for the final – clocked a creditable 25.67sec.
A recent finalist in the G2 Ballarat Cup, Dream Wizard notched his 14th win from 35 starts. Ultimate professional Tiggerlong Tonk ($1.90F) encountered more trouble than the early explorers and finished seventh.
WATCH: DREAM WIZARD (1) powers to the finish line while the favourite TIGGERLONG TONK (3) missed a place.
HEAT WINNERS (fastest to slowest)
25.19sec Shima Shine
25.57sec Zipping Zarbo
25.59sec Amarillo Highway
25.65sec Aston Gwen
25.67sec Dream Wizard