Western Australian star Tommy Shelby – tagged the peoples’ dog – set The Meadows alight in Saturday night’s heats of the Group 1 TAB Australian Cup (525m).
Tommy Shelby, trained by Steve Withers, hadn’t placed in three previous starts at The Meadows, albeit two of those came in Group 1 invitationals, the Topgun and the previous week’s Temlee, where he ran seventh to Wow.
Drawn in box five in the fourth heat, Tommy Shelby started $2.10 favourite, and it was a one-act affair from box-rise as he produced a flawless front-running exhibition, romping to a 7.5 length victory over Weblec Ace in a blistering best of night 29.51s.
“Last week it was an awesome field and he struggled to get through the traffic early but he got it right tonight, got on the arm and got a bit of an opportunity and showed he’s still got something to offer,” Withers told Gareth Hall on Sky Racing.
“We’re very, very proud of him and we love him to bits.
“He’s our one in a million. A backyard trainer that just got lucky with one good dog and we get to go on this sort of a tour and it carries on now.”
Teenage Pearcedale trainer Kayla Cottrell’s dream run continued when Fernando Bluey ($5.20) led from go to whoa in heat five, downing Jepara in 29.77s to claim his eighth win from his last nine starts, with five of those victories coming at The Meadows.
Race and series favourite Shima Shine finished third.
A week earlier, on the opening night of the Australian Cup Carnival, Cottrell won the Group 1 Rookie Rebel (600m) with Fernando Cazz, a litter sister to Fernando Bluey.
WATCH: WA superstar TOMMY SHELBY (5) was simply phenomenal, leading from start to finish in a scintillating 29.51sec.
Correy Grenfell is hoping Tiggerlong Tonk can break a frustrating Group 1 hoodoo at his ninth attempt after leading all-the-way in the opening heat.
He went one better than the 2020 Cup heats where he was runner-up to Hardaway Winnie.
Tiggerlong Tonk, which started $2.50 favourite from box three, led in the Temlee one week earlier when third and he again found the front from the same draw, this time digging deep to hold Mepunga Felix at bay in 29.74s.
Jeff Britton’s Tyler Durden finished a close second in the Silver Chief in early January and he stormed into another Group 1 at The Meadows with a powerhouse finishing performance in heat two.
The writing was on the wall when Tyler Durden, a $15 outsider from box five, settled ominously in second place behind Aston Silk and after joining the leader turning for home he careered away, scoring by an ever-widening 3.80 lengths in 29.66s.
The Whelan family from Metung celebrated a Group 1 fairy tale at The Meadows in January when Lakeview Walter landed the Silver Chief and they’ll be hoping lightning can strike twice after Lakeview Cruiser, a litter brother to Lakeview Walter, brought NSW superstar Wow’s nine-race winning streak to an end in the third heat.
Trained by Harley Whelan, Lakeview Cruiser ($13.80) was facing his toughest test to date by far but found the front from box six and refused to surrender the lead, staving off $2.60 favourite Wow by 1.24 lengths in 29.74s.
The biggest upset of the night came in the sixth heat where Tim Britton’s $19.40 roughie Utah Blues took advantage of box one to lead all-the-way in 30.05s.
In a superb training performance, Mark Delbridge produced middle distance star Christo Bale first-up after an injury-enforced break to win heat seven.
Not having raced since January 9, Christo Bale ($5.40) drove into third behind leader Run Baba Run on the first turn and had the race in his keeping a long way from home as he swept to the front turning for home and charged clear, stopping the clock at 29.75s.
Andrea Dailly and owner/breeders David Gleeson and Bob Cummings bounced back from the earlier defeat of superstar Shima Shine in the final run-off when Shima Classic, a lightly-raced younger half-sister to the Topgun hero, led all-the-way in 29.76s.
It was her sixth win from just nine starts and only her second time over 525m.
HEAT WINNERS (Fastest to slowest)
29.51sec TOMMY SHELBY (Steven Withers, Casuarina WA)
29.66sec TYLER DURDEN (Jeffrey Britton, Anakie VIC)
29.74sec TIGGERLONG TONK (Correy Grenfell, Anakie VIC)
29.74sec LAKEVIEW CRUISER (Harley Whelan, Metung VIC)
29.75sec CHRISTO BALE (Mark Delbridge, Balliang VIC)
29.76sec SHIMA CLASSIC (Andrea Dailly, Anakie VIC)
29.77sec FERNANDO BLUEY (Kayla Cottrell, Pearcedale VIC)
30.05sec UTAH BLUES (Tim Britton, Lara VIC)
9 MEPUNGA FELIX (Jeffrey Britton, Anakie VIC)
10 WOW (Karina Britton, Ambarvale NSW)
Photos by Clint Anderson
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