The sport’s superstars put on an ‘eight carat’ showcase in today’s Pink Diamond preliminaries – almost 220km apart – at Warragul and Ballarat.
A total of 24 qualifiers were held across the two venues today, with first and second placegetters making to through to next week’s rich finals night at Bendigo.
First-up was the ‘diamond-cut’ Warragul (Twilight) meeting, highlighted by a Pink Diamond Champion Sprinter heat (460m).
In a race that resembled a Group event, G3 Speed Star winner and G3 Launching Pad runner-up Aston Rupee (Glenn Rounds) revealed he’s the sprint king in waiting with a right royal 25.38sec win.
A winner of nine races from 15 starts, and unbeaten in three starts over 460m at Warragul, Aston Rupee defeated a gallant Dream Wizard ($23.40) – who only two nights earlier was third to Ferdinand Boy in ‘The Horizon at Sale – by 2.7L in 25.38sec.
Powerhouse Equalizer finished fourth in the race, but trainer Jason Thompson had better fortune with Aston Fastnet ($1.60F) – a litter brother of Aston Rupee – who sailed away with a Rookie Sprinter heat (460m) in a flying 25.35sec, while rising star Rebellious ($3.00) defied his rivals with a slick 22.28sec victory in a Rookie Short Course heat (400m).
Aston Fastnet, a G3 Speed Star finalist, registered his seventh win from 16 starts while Rebellious is now six from seven and three from three over 400m at Warragul.
Images by Clint Anderson and Peter Morganti.
WATCH: It’s ‘diamonds forever’ as Aston Rupee (1) clocks a sparkling 25.38sec Pink Diamond Champion Sprinter heat win at Warragul.
Meanwhile, the Ballarat (Night) fixture comprised a host of greyhound ‘gemstones’ – the most ‘expensive’ being superstar and dual G1 winner, Shima Shine.
And didn’t he sparkle in a Champion Sprinter heat (450m).
Trained by Andrea Dailly, Shima Shine ($1.30F) staged a herculean performance to nab his kennelmate Gypsy Yankee ($5.00) right on the line in a slick 25.16sec. It was his 35th win from 60 starts.
A seven-time G1 finalist and former Ballarat 450m track record holder, Shima Shine is six from seven over this track/distance. He also holds track records at Bendigo 425m (23.35sec), Warragul 460m (25.19) and Horsham 485m (26.79sec).
It was a big night for Dailly – Victoria’s leading trainer – as Shima Classic ($2.00F) took out the Champion Short Course (390m).
The young sprint sensation defeated Run And Carry ($7.60) by 2.8L in a blistering 21.78sec on rain-affected going – only 3L off Bareki’s 21.61sec track record, set on December 12 last year.
A finalist in the G1 Australian Cup, G1 Sapphire Crown and G2 Ballarat Cup, Shima Classic – a younger half-sister of Shima Shine – notched her ninth win from 20 starts.
Red-hot speedster Koblenz extended his winning streak to eight, leading from go-to-whoa in a Rookie Sprinter heat (450m).
Prepared by ‘man of the moment’ David Geall, Koblenz ($1.60F) strolled to a 2.3L win over the Dailly-trained Lala Kiwi ($5.50) in 25.27sec.
A ‘cousin’ of all-conquering Ferdinand Boy – also trained by Geall – Koblenz has won 12 from 18 and is now four from five over 450m at Ballarat with a 24.82sec PB.
The VicBred Pink Diamond – offering around $800,000 in prizemoney and breeder bonuses – continues tomorrow with the remaining 24 preliminaries to be run at Shepparton and Geelong tomorrow.
The series will culminate in a gala night of racing at Bendigo, featuring 12 feature finals, on Friday 18 June.
WATCH: Megastar Shima Shine (6) nails kennelmate Gypsy Yankee (7) on the post in a thrilling Pink Diamond Champion Sprinter heat at Ballarat.
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