The return of top flight racing is the highlight at Albion Park on Thursday night with four heats of the Group 1 UBET Gold Cup (710m). The program, which looks one of the strongest and most intriguing at headquarters in recent memory also carries four heats of the Listed UBET Flying Amy Classic (520m) and a terrific Best 8 event which should see the night packed with plenty of quality performances.
The staying feature has drawn an excellent mix of local talent and staying stars from the southern states, with several Group 1 winners looking to add to their top class tally.
Anthony Azzopardi’s multiple Group 1 winner No Donuts headlines the first heat, jumping from box six. He was disappointing in the final of the Group 1 Sandown Cup last Thursday night but has track experience and should be capable of an improved showing. He will oppose rising Sydney stayer My Boy Brodie (Box 2), for Trevor Rice who has won his last three starts at Sydney’s Wentworth Park.
Last week’s surprise Sandown Cup winner, Gerard O’Keefe’s Bells Are Ringin will look to double her Group 1 finals tally when she starts from box three in the second heat. The diminutive daughter of Kinloch Brae stunned punters when leading all of the way in a class field last Thursday night as the despised outsider and her connections will be hoping the dream run continues. Her rivals include Dublin Bull (Jeff Britton, Box 7) who was fourth behind Bells Are Ringin in Melbourne last week, and Sydney stayers Cardiology (Kayla-Jane Coleman, Box 4) and Lovelace (Mark Tapper, Box 8) who will resume their rivalry after their recent meetings over the distance journey at Wentworth Park.
The locals will be cheering one of their own when Bill Elson’s versatile chaser Cyndie’s Magic lines up from box six in the third heat. Last week’s Winter Chase victor has strung together four wins on end over the sprint, middle distance and staying journeys. She will have to overcome Group 1 winner Luna Jinx (Box 8), who is once again in the hands of Tony Brett after her recent Sandown Cup heat victory. Despite being unplaced in last week’s final, she has proven herself at the Brisbane venue after qualifying for the final of this event last year. Bells Are Ringin’s litter brother Ring The Bell (Box 7) has been consistent over the extended journey in Melbourne recently and he and fellow Victorian Mepunga Rosie (Jeff Britton, Box 4) cannot be discounted.
The final heat is again packed with quality, led by Group 1 Association Cup winner Lioness Lulu for Mark Giddings. She will start from box eight against fellow visitors Tambay Bale (Mark Delbridge, Box 6), Alpha David (Clint Capuano, Box 3) and Obi Kenobi (Andrew Monaghan, Box 2). Veteran local Mullaway (Joanne Price, Box 4) will be looking to go one better than last year’s Gold Cup effort when second behind Dzeko, although he faces a massive task having not run since October 2015.
The first and second placegetters in each heat will qualify for Thursday week’s $110,000 Group 1 final.
On the undercard are heats of the age-restricted UBET Flying Amy Classic at Listed level for greyhounds under thirty months of age.
Thirty Talks, winner of Saturday night’s inaugural Richmond Riches Puppy Classic Final, appears the class runner of the four heats and will line up from box two in the opening event. He will be looking to extend the brilliant start to his career by notching his 12th win from 15 starts.
Bill Elson’s open class winner Fabulous Bill looks the testing material in the second heat, he defeated a class Best 8 field in 29.90 last week and will be hoping to replicate that from box four.
The Dave Brett Memorial Maiden winner Smashniak Taser has drawn the inside box in the third of the four heats for in-form trainer George Kadniak. Darren Russell’s Tripum looks the main rival, a previous 29.76 winner at headquarters.
John Hutchinson’s Rockhampton Cup finalist Wings of Perlita (Box 6) and Steve Scott’s Bogie Bekim (Box 3) look to be the major players in the final heat of the Flying Amy, the latter running 29.91 in a heat of the RQ Young Guns in recent times.
Like the Gold Cup, the first two across the line in each heat will earn a place in next week’s $37,500 final.
Race Nine on the program, the Best 8 event, looks to be one of the strongest top-grade events at Albion Park in recent times. Recent Warrnambool Cup winner Zambora Brockie will make the trip north with Anthony Azzopardi in preparation for next month’s Group 1 Winter Cup. He will start from box five on Thursday, and will require all of his explosive early speed, particularly with high-quality performers Norm The Storm, Lady Abigail and Group 1 winner Cash In Motion drawn boxes one, two and three respectively.
The terrific ten race program commences at 6:44pm, with heats of the Group 1 UBET Gold Cup run as the quadrella legs, races 5 to 8 and the heats of the Flying Amy Classic races 1 to 4.