By Peter Quilty
Like most greyhound racing purists, I had last Friday on my mind immediately when the fields for the Group 2 Evans Petroleum Warrragul Cup heats (460m) were released.
Excuse the pun but there wasn’t one ‘easybeat’ contesting the six heats, which kicked off the middle leg of Gippsland’s triple-tiered ‘Festival of Racing’.
The Warragul GRC staged a provincial showcase on Friday, and, not surprisingly, the ‘cream always rises to the top’.
It’s said, “records are made to be broken” and superstar Shima Shine did just that in Heat 3.
Trained in Anakie by Andrea Dailly, Shima Shine ($1.90F) smashed the track record with a believe-it-or-not sizzling 25.19sec display of unadulterated speed. His winning time carved 2.5L off the previous mark of 25.34sec, set by 2018 Warragul Cup winner Aston Dee Bee on 6 December, 2016.
Contesting his first start since the Group 1 Melbourne Cup final in late November, the G1 Topgun winner recorded his third win from four starts at Warragul. Incredibly, it was his eighth win in 10 starts from Box 8. He was TAB’s $4 favourite to take out the $47,000-to-the-winner Warragul Cup series and has now firmed into $1.75 favourtism in this Saturday night’s final.
Freakish young talent Equalizer – a younger half-brother of retired G1 sprint queen Black Opium – staged a herculean effort in Heat 2.
A conspicuous last from the traps, the Jason Thompson-trained star of the future ran into a couple of ‘dead-ends’ before miraculously scoring in 25.50sec.
A finalist in last week’s G1 Silver Chief, Equalizer ($3.40) notched his fourth win from seven starts over Warragul’s 460m trip.
Ultra-consistent speedster Zipping Zarbo ($3.90) narrowly defeated the ‘Face of Gippsland’, Catch The Thief ($1.70F), in Heat 6.
Prepared at Lara by Deb Coleman, Zipping Zarbo accounted for the “Briagolong Bullet” by 0.27L in 25.57sec. It was her 19th win from 39 starts.
Shockwaves reverberated around Heat 5 when Simon Told Helen – the nation’s No. 1 sprinter, four-time G1 winner and Australian Greyhound of the Year – finished fifth.
The race went to the highly underrated Amarillo Highway ($15.80), trained by Glenn Rounds of Devon Meadows, who saluted in 25.59sec. It was his fourth win from six starts over Warragul’s 460m trip.
Meanwhile, the Benjamin Magri-trained Aston Gwen ($6.10) it four straight wins, clocking 25.65sec in Heat 1. At her previous start, she won the G2 Laurels Classic.
And Dream Wizard ($5.00) cast a winning spell in Heat 4.
Also trained at Devon Meadows by Sean Lithgow, Dream Wizard clocked a creditable 25.67sec.
A recent finalist in the G2 Ballarat Cup, Dream Wizard notched his 14th win from 35 starts.
Extensive coverage of Saturday night’s Group 2 Warragul Cup will be broadcast live from 7pm on Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Facebook Page or via The Watchdog app.
HEAT WINNERS (fastest to slowest)
25.19sec Shima Shine
25.57sec Zipping Zarbo
25.59sec Amarillo Highway
25.65sec Aston Gwen
25.67sec Dream Wizard