Kelsey Bale appears to have a third straight country cup crown at her mercy after a sensational record-breaking performance in Thursday night’s Group 2 Sportsbet Warrnambool Cup heats (450m).
After winning heat and final of both the G2 Ballarat and G2 Geelong Cups at her previous four starts, Kelsey Bale and young Avalon trainer Daniel Gibbons were chasing a fifth successive victory in the first – and undeniably strongest – of seven Cup heats.
Drawn in box one for her Warrnambool debut, Kelsey Bale, the heavily-backed $1.50 favourite, took advantage of her inside alley to rail underneath returning superstar Typhoon Sammy ($7.20) entering the home straight.
The June ’20 daughter of Feral Franky and Ethla Allen exploded clear, trouncing runner-up Aston Kalkara ($65) by an ever-widening 4.13 lengths in 24.682sec.
The scintillating run eclipsed Unlawful Entry’s previous record of 24.719sec, established seven years ago to the day in the 2016 Cup heats.
WATCH: KELSEY BALE (B1) continued her domination of the country cups circuit with a record-breaking performance in the G2 Warrnambool Cup heats, stopping the clock at 24.682sec.
The high-flying Gibbons prepared a heat double, with Zella Bale, a litter sister to G1-winning stayer Ariarne Bale, winning heat five – also off box one – in 25.36sec.
The latest superstar produced by the omnipotent Wheeler breeding dynasty, Kelsey Bale (and Zella Bale) will now be striving to become the third Wheeler-bred female to win the Warrnambool Cup in the past five years, following Dyna Patty (2019) and Qwara Bale (2021).
The Wheelers’ bookended the heats, with Kai Bale, prepared by Correy Grenfell, claiming a thrilling last-stride verdict in the final run-off.
In addition to the $50,000 winner’s purse in next Wednesday’s (May 3) Cup Final, Kelsey Bale is in line to receive a $50,000 bonus for winning three country cups in a calendar year.
Remarkably, it would be the third successive year the incentive has gone off, with 2022 Warrnambool Cup winner Ferdinand Boy, which finished sixth in his Cup heat, securing the bonus in 2021 and Typhoon Sammy achieving the feat last year.
Other highlights from Thursday night’s Cup heats were:
- Jordan Cooper emulated Gibbons’ feat, also claiming a heat double, courtesy of litter brothers Crackerjack Aret (24.93sec) and Crackerjack Bull (25.12sec) Crackerjack Bull also qualified for the G2 Geelong Gold Cup Final, finishing seventh.
- Champion trainer Jason Thompson is eyeing a sixth Warrnambool Cup victory with Unleash Collinda, runner-up in both the Ballarat and Shepparton Cup finals. Thompson’s five Cup winners are El Galo (2008), Hanify’s Impact (2009), Ronan Izmir (2013), Black Magic Opal (2014) and Zambora Smokey (2020).
- The second quickest qualifying performance came from the unheralded Cashing Cheques, trained by Craig Treherne, with the ex-NSW speedster booking a berth in his first Group final with a 24.91sec success.
Photos by Clint Anderson
GROUP 2 WARRNAMBOOL CUP HEAT WINNERS
(fastest to slowest)
24.68sec Kelsey Bale
24.91sec Cashing Cheques
24.93sec Crackerjack Aret
24.96sec Unleash Collinda
25.12sec Crackerjack Bull
25.24sec Kai Bale
25.36sec Zella Bale
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