Brilliant local Mr. Audacious set the scene for a sensational conclusion to the Gippsland Festival of Racing with a record-breaking performance in the heats of the $74,335 Group 2 Bridges on Argyle Traralgon Cup (450m).
Mr. Audacious is Sportsbet’s $2.10 favourite for the $47,000 to-the-winner Cup Final, to be run Thursday night (Australia Day).
And what a comeback it was.
The prodigious talent claimed his second track record – to sit alongside the Shepparton 450m benchmark he established in the 2022 Group 2 Shepparton Cup heats last March – enhancing his unblemished Traralgon record in the process.
7:07pm First race
8:01pm $15,425 GRV Vicbred Maiden Final (Race 4)
8:16pm First leg of Quaddie (Race 5)
9:01pm $74,335 Group 2 Bridges on Argyle Traralgon Cup Final (Race 8)
9:19pm $11,500 McMahon Builders Cup Night Match Race (Race 9) | Paua Of Buddy vs Titan Blazer
10:17pm Last race (Race 12)
Since opening his career at Traralgon last January, Mr. Audacious has forged an imposing 14 from 17 career record, including 10 of his past 11, while he’s unbeaten in four assignments over Traralgon’s 450m Cup course, also winning five from five over 395m.
Mr. Audacious resumed in awesome fashion when winning his Cup heat in 24.43sec, breaking the record of 24.48sec, established just nine days earlier by Salad Dodger, which will also contest Thursday night’s Cup Final.
Mr. Audacious will exit box 3 for the first time in his career in the Cup, his second appearance in a country cup decider, having run fifth in the Shepparton Cup, while he was scratched from the Ballarat Cup Final last April.
Salad Dodger, trained by Anthony Azzopardi, may have surrendered his brief hold on the Traralgon record, but he clocked the third quickest qualifying time of 24.69sec to advance to his second country cup final.
The son of Azzopardi’s 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Whiskey Riot was runner-up to Typhoon Sammy in the Group 2 Bendigo Cup last October and also ran second to Mr. Audacious in the Group 3 Warragul St. Leger in August.
Salad Dodger is the $4 second elect after drawing box 1, from where he won his heat and has a four from five overall record.
Mobile Legend (box 5) occupies the third line of betting at $4.20, as he chases back-to-back country cup titles for twin brothers Daryl and Colin Brennan, after winning the Group 2 Warragul Cup on January 13.
Mobile Legend, a son of 2017 Melbourne Cup winner and Traralgon Cup finalist Aston Dee Bee, produced the second quickest heat time of 24.62sec at his Traralgon debut.
The only other finalist at single figures is Revolution (box 4) at $6, trained by Harry Manolitsis, a son of champion 2015 Traralgon Cup victor Fernando Bale, which has won 17 of his 29 starts, his last five in succession.
The Traralgon Cup is the third and final leg of the Gippsland Festival of Racing, with Jarick Bale, trained by Mark Delbridge, securing back-to-back victories in the Group 1 Sale Cup (650m) on Boxing Day, while Mobile Legend won the Group 2 Warragul Cup.
POINTS OF INTEREST
The Traralgon Cup was first run in 1974 and was known as the Latrobe Valley Cup until 1980. Notable winners include Malawi’s Prince (1991), Light Of Fire (1994), Floodfawn (2001), El Grand Senor (2011) and Fernando Bale (2015). The most recent local winner is Jesaulenko in 2017.
The Traralgon Cup wasn’t held in 2019, 2020 and 2021, before returning last year on the world first $6 million ‘J-Curve’ track. The 2022 Cup, won by Typhoon Sammy, was conducted over 395m before moving to 450m this year. The win of Typhoon Sammy gave Jason and Seona Thompson ‘back to back’ Cup victories four years apart, with Poke The Bear successful in 2018.
FOR THE RECORD
Finalists Mr. Audacious and Salad Dodger have both broken Traralgon’s 450m track record this month. Salad Dodger ran 24.48sec on January 11, which was then eclipsed by Mr. Audacious in his 24.43sec heat victory last Friday night.
NEW CUPS KING?
Mobile Legend is striving to claim his second country cup crown in the opening month of 2023, after winning the Group 2 Warragul Cup Final on January 13. Mobile Legend is a half-brother to 2019 Group 2 Bendigo Cup winner Crimson Vixen and is a member of a sensational litter that also includes Action Girl (30 from 43) and Silver Brute (29 from 48).
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Daniel Gibbons is the only trainer with multiple finalists, in Vance Bale (box 2) and Zella Bale (box 6), which both won their heats at double-figure odds. Both are outsiders in their first Group appearances – Zella Bale at $16 and Vance Bale $101. Gibbons also prepares first reserve Titan Blazer, runner-up in the Warragul Cup, which will contest the Cup Night Match Race against Paua Of Buddy.
GIRLS NIGHT OUT
Female trainers have won five of the past eight Traralgon Cups via Andrea Dailly (twice), Carolyn Jones, Terri-Maree Morris, and Seona Thompson, with Rachael Busuttil (Mr. Audacious) and Angela Galea (I’m Talking) looking to continue that trend. Zella Bale is the only female finalist and is striving to emulate another ‘Bale’ in 2008, Cup heroine Keeko Bale, the last member of the fairer sex to win the race.
Seven of the eight Cup finalists boast perfect records over Traralgon’s 450m circuit. Mr. Audacious (from from four), Revolution (three from three) and Salad Dodger (two from two) are all multiple winners over the Cup course. River Rough is the exception, with three second placings from four starts over the trip.
Group 2 BRIDGES ON ARGYLE TRARALGON CUP
Traralgon Race 8 (450m), Thursday 9:01pm
Total prizemoney $74,335 (First prize $47,000)
1 SALAD DODGER (Anthony Azzopardi, Rowsley VIC) 📷
2 VANCE BALE (Daniel Gibbons, Avalon VIC)
3 MR. AUDACIOUS (Rachael Busuttil, Kilmany VIC)
4 REVOLUTION (Harry Manolitsis, Lysterfield South VIC)
5 MOBILE LEGEND (Daryl Brennan, Napoleons VIC)
6 ZELLA BALE (Daniel Gibbons, Avalon VIC)
7 I’M TALKING (Angela Galea, Sunshine North VIC)
8 RIVER ROUGH (Des Douch, Maffra VIC)
9 TITAN BLAZER SCRATCHED
10 DR. ANGELO SCRATCHED
TRARALGON CUP HEAT WINNERS
Friday 20 January
(fastest to slowest)
24.43sec MR. AUDACIOUS (Track Record) 📷
24.62sec MOBILE LEGEND
24.69sec SALAD DODGER
24.71sec I’M TALKING
24.75sec ZELLA BALE
24.97sec VANCE BALE
RECENT TRARALGON CUP WINNERS
2011 EL GRAND SENOR (Carolyn Jones, Rosedale VIC)
2012 DYNA LOWELL (Andrea Dailly, Anakie VIC)
2013 PAW LICKING (Kel Greenough, Pearcedale VIC)
2014 Not held
2015 FERNANDO BALE (Andrea Dailly, Anakie VIC)
2016 PANTERA NERA (Gavin Burke, Alberton West VIC)
2017 JESAULENKO (Terri-Maree Morris, Traralgon VIC)
2018 POKE THE BEAR (Seona Thompson, Pearcedale VIC)
2019/2020/2021 Not held
2022 TYPHOON SAMMY (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale VIC) 📷
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