Panadero Warrior has ventured to NSW in search of feature ‘riches’, with the dual country cups finalist one of the headline acts in Sunday night’s heats of the Group 2 Bulli Gold Cup (472m).
Trained by Paul Abela, Panadero Warrior was the fastest qualifier for the G2 Bendigo Cup last October and also won a G2 Warragul Cup heat last month.
A son of Barcia Bale and Time No Money that turned three in January, Panadero Warrior also ran second to fellow Victorian star Paua Of Buddy in a G1 Hobart Thousand heat.
Winner of 11 of his 30 starts, Panadero Warrior has made his second interstate foray for the heats of Bulli’s $40,000 to-the-winner Cup, where he’ll exit box two in the last of three heats – race 7 at 8.19pm.
“He’s flying,” Parwan-based Abela said.
“He’s in the top echelon of one-turn dogs in Victoria.
“He’s been running elite times. He broke the Traralgon (350m) record by a length in a trial before the Cup heats. He ran 19.25sec and the record is 19.31sec. But then he drew box five in his heat and had no luck.
“I sent him up to Darryl Thomas and Michelle Sultana in NSW to get ready for the Bulli race.
“He’s been there two weeks and has had two looks at Bulli. He ran 22.24sec over 400m and then they slipped him from the 472m boxes and he ran home in 6.54sec. Michelle told me that’s flying.”
While Abela is concerned the inside alley could be problematic, Panadero Warrior is Sportsbet’s $3.20 second elect, shaded for favouritism by another Vic raider in the ideally-boxed Jungle Panther (box 8), at $3.10.
Trained by Jeff Geall, the regally-bred Jungle Panther (Barcia Bale x Up Hill Jill) has won seven of his ten starts from ‘the pink’, most recently winning Horsham’s Presidents Cup Final on January 31.
“Box two doesn’t really suit him,” Abela offered.
“He does use a bit of the track, but there’s only seven dogs in the race, so hopefully he can qualify and draw wide in the final.
“Jungle Panther is drawn perfectly and will be hard to beat, but my dog only has to travel one hour!”
WATCH: PANADERO WARRIOR (B4) finished best to edge out G1 winner FERNANDO MICK (B3) in a heat of the G2 Warragul Cup (460m) on January 6, clocking 25.70sec.
In what Abela describes as a “funny week”, he’s had two exciting talents score by huge margins in fast times but has been left pondering what might have been for both Fifty Stars and Cruise Mode.
Fifty Stars made an auspicious debut in Wednesday’s G3 (R) Vic Bred Maiden heats (525m) at The Meadows, scoring by 14 lengths in 29.99sec.
His performance was the quickest of the four heats of the $25,000 to-the-winner series, part of the ‘Unmissable’ Australian Cup Carnival.
However, the well-related son of Collision and Zara’s Entity, a half-brother to Group performers Zara’s Ivan and Zac’s Entity, won’t contest Wednesday’s semi-finals, where he’d drawn box one, after suffering a post-race seizure.
Abela will now rely on litter brother Al’s Entity, which ran third in his heat as $1.50 favourite.
“I’d been holding them both back for the series,” Abela explained.
“Fifty Stars, which is raced by the same owners who had Five Star, went enormous in his heat, so I’m gutted he’s going to miss the semi-final.
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“The other bloke (Al’s Entity) had been going quicker in trials and I thought he was my best chance in the heats. He’s got to do it in a race, but I’m expecting plenty of improvement next week.”
Last Sunday at Sandown Park, Abela unearthed a potential middle distance star when Cruise Mode scored by a dozen lengths in a scorching 33.83sec when stepping up from sprint distances for the first time.
Abela quickly identified next month’s Country Classic (605m) at Dubbo, which carries a $125,000 winner’s purse, as Cruise Mode’s immediate target; however those plans have been shelved after she came on season.
“She was going to fly up to NSW on Monday,” Abela said.
“I’m looking at the Launching Pad now. She’s had six wins, so that’s the new target if she shows us she’s going good enough at the time.
“She’s had eight starts for five wins since we got her. She’d had ten starts for one win before that, but when she won her maiden at Sandown, she went 5.07sec, 29.69sec Best of the Day!
“I spotted her and asked my owner, George Alvaro, about buying her. I thought he paid too much, but it’s worked out well.
“She’s by Fernando Bale out of a Bekim Bale bitch (Tyche Diamond), which is the same cross as Five Star.”