Tonight’s Group 2 CKH Painting Shepparton Cup heats (450m) are laden with class – a cavalcade of stars with imposing ‘black type’ CVs.
Five heats will be decided, with the winners and three fastest second placegetters progressing to the $47,000 to-the-winner final on Saturday night.
TAB’s ‘All In’ betting for the final sees resuming champ Catch The Thief at $5, followed by powerhouse Equalizer and ‘ultimate professional’ Tiggerlong Tonk both at $6.
And plenty of X-factor comes from Tasmanian superstar WYNBURN SHEEAN, who recently broke Shepparton’s 450m track record in a trial. He is being kept safe in the market at $7.50 for the final, along with G2 Warragul Cup winner Aeroplane Eric.
Below is a heat-by-heat analysis…
Heat 1 – Race 4, 7.43pm
Equalizer (Box 6) – a dual G1 finalist (Silver Chief and Temlee) – is an excitement machine who possesses a paralysing finishing burst. He’s won 12 races from 30 starts and was runner-up in both the G2 Warragul Cup and G2 Cranbourne Cup.
Dream Wizard (Box 7), who is capable of some of some sprinting ‘magic’ looms as the danger. He’s won 14 races from 39 starts and was a G2 Ballarat Cup and Warragul Cup finalist.
And Aston Gwen (Box 2) also comes into calculations. She won the G2 Laurels and was a finalist in the G1 Rookie Rebel and G2 Warragul Cup.
Heat 2 – Race 5, 8.04pm
Will Papi Go Fast hold off Music Event? It’s an intriguing race of speed vs strength!
The aptly monikered Papi Go Fast (Box 7) – named after Melbourne Storm full back Ryan Papenhuyzen – goes like the wind. Papi Go Fast, who finished third in the G1 Silver Chief, hasn’t finished out of a place in 27 starts – netting 16 wins.
But Music Event (Box 8) is as strong as an Ox. He’s won 14 races from 29 starts and is five from six (83%) over 450m here. Late last year, he won the G3 Cup Night Sprint and recently took out the Listed Western Districts Derby.
Heat 3 – Race 6, 8.26pm
What a thriller! Catch The Thief (Box 7) returns after a two-month spell and comes up against Tasmanian superstar Wynburn Sheean (Box 3) and in-form Gotham Duke (Box 1)
Catch The Thief, having his first start for the Jason Thompson kennel, has won 20 races from 41 starts and is undefeated in two starts over 450m here. He’s competed in three G1 finals, including runner-up in the Adelaide Cup, and won the G2 WA Derby and G3 Warragul St Leger.
Wynburn Sheean has won 18 races from 22 starts – including 13 of his past 14 (93%) – and snared the G2 Launceston Cup and G3 Devonport Chase. He was also a G1 Hobart Thousand finalist.
Gotham Duke has notched 17 wins from 37 starts and hasn’t been out of the money in his past nine starts, including five wins.
Heat 4 – Race 7, 8.48pm
It’s extremely difficult to go past nine-time G1 finalist Tiggerlong Tonk (Box 3). He’s won 34 races from 70 starts, with the majority coming in first-class events. He won the G2 Horsham Cup, set a new race record in the G3 Shootout and was runner-up in the G1 Hobart Thousand and G2 Bendigo Cup. He’s also finished third in the following G1s: Silver Chief, Harrison-Dawson, Maturity Classic and Temlee.
Heat 5 – Race 8, 9.13pm
Probably the most even of the five heats and looks a three-way tussle between Aeroplane Eric (Box 1), Yozo Bale (Box 7) and Oriental Amber (Box 8).
The lightly raced Aeroplane Eric – a winner of 10 races from 19 starts, including the G2 Warragul Cup – returns after a two-month hiatus.
Yozo Bale has won 20 races from 51 starts and is a dual country cups winner – G2 Bendigo Cup and G2 Ballarat Cup. He was also runner-up in the G1 Temlee.
Oriental Amber has won 17 races from 30 starts and her past 6 in a row – including a last-start win in the Shepparton Matchmakers final. She’s also four from five (80%) over 450m here and holds Horsham’s 410m track record (22.64sec).
WATCH: Catch The Thief’s (3) most recent win was over Junk Food Junkie (1) in the Cup Night Match Race at Ballarat on December 12 last year.
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