Devel Sixteen might have been beaten but her run was impossible to miss as the Victorian late entry produced one of the standout performances in the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg heats last weekend.
Trained by Jessica Sharp and family at Avalon, Devel Sixteen stormed home to be edged out by local Zulu Warlord, clocking a flying 29.60s in defeat.
“It was an unbelievable run, I thought,” said Jason Sharp, Jessica’s husband.
“I know Flying Ricciardo did his thing out in front (29.22s) but for Devel Sixteen to come from where she did and run the time she did was one of the runs of the night.
“Some of the locals at the track were telling me they couldn’t believe it.
“She’s always had the ability. From day one she’s been as good as Junk Food Junkie, if not better, but she hasn’t really put it altogether.”
Devel Sixteen and litter sister Junk Food Junkie, daughters of 2015 Easter Egg champion Fernando Bale and Paua To Avoid, a granddaughter of 2005 Egg heroine Paua To Burn, only ventured to Wentworth Park after the opening round was postponed due to Sydney’s deluge.
“We decided to take them up when the heats were put back a week,” Jason explained.
“Junk Food Junkie was a reserve for the Shepparton Cup Final on the same night the heats were originally going to be run. She didn’t get a start in the Cup but she won the Tony McGrath Memorial, while Devel Sixteen had won at The Meadows on the Friday.”
Devel Sixteen has returned in great style after a short-let up, winning twice in fast time at The Meadows, posting 29.84s and 29.87s, strangely just the fifth and sixth wins of her 40-start career, prior to her slashing heat performance.
Devel Sixteen is a $10 chance with TAB from box five in Saturday’s fourth semi-final, where fastest heat winner Flying Ricciardo (box 8) dominates betting at $1.33.
“If Flying Ricciardo gets clear air she’s not going to get near him but I reckon she’s a very good chance of running second,” Jason offered.
“There’s a bit of speed on her outside but doesn’t look to be too much underneath her. She’s got to come out on terms and hopefully she can punch up and get to the fence.
“We’ve been in quite a few Group 1s now, Kouta Mayhem ran third in the Melbourne Cup and was also in the Temlee and Hobart Thousand, and it’s hard enough in your own state so travelling interstate and making a final like this would be great.”
Junk Food Junkie ran a close fourth in her heat and is first reserve for semi-final number two.
Jason added that children Liam and Mia will be entrusted with the travelling duties on Saturday for what could be a huge finish to an unforgettable Easter weekend for the family.
On Thursday night at Sandown Park, the Sharps will be chasing their biggest win to date when Hadouken lines up in the Group 3 Launching Pad Final, while Aston Lavinia will contest the Group 3 Easter Gift, both features over 515m.
Hadouken (box 3), unbeaten in five starts at Sandown, including 29.52s heat and 29.61s semi-final victories, is a $9 chance to claim the Launching Pad’s $150,000 winner’s purse.
“I really think he’s got a great chance,” said Sharp.
“He’s drawn to perfection and it just depends if something is sitting right behind him but hopefully he’s off and gone.
“It’s a big week but it’s not so much pressure, but just trying to tick all the boxes and make sure everything is done perfectly.”
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