The eyes of the nation will be on Bulli on Monday when the state finals of the NSW Sprint and Distance Championships will be decided.
When the dust settles winner of each will have truly earned the right to represent NSW in the National Final at Hobart on August 2.
The sprint crown might well be billed as a clash between the irresistible force and immovable objet but it’s even more than that.
Unbeaten Barcia Bale, through already a winner at Group 1 level, faces his sternest test at start 12 with powerhouse one-turn specialist Exclusive One, Perth Cup champion Oaks Road, and noted strong finisher Ritza Ryder ready to test his mettle.
In his three starts for Brendan Wheeler, Barcia Bale won on debut at Bulli over 400m in a record breaking 22.20s and followed with successive wins at Maitland over 450m.
In fact, at start three, he made the Maitland 450m record his own when a crushing winner in 24.90s.
Another seven more starts in Victoria saw the son of Go Wild Teddy being compared to Hall Of Fame inductee Brett Lee and the speed shown by both dogs is by no means dissimilar.
In fact, in a recent interview on Sky Sports Radio, Brendan Wheeler gave an insight into the black dog’s raw speed.
“He’s unbeaten in every race start and he’s never been beaten in a trial at home,” he said.
“In fact no dog has even been able to get near him in a trial. It’s rare for dogs to better 16 seconds on our straight track and Barcia did it 11 times when he was trained here.”
In his Sprint heat, Barcia Bale registered sizzling early sections on a not-overly quick track and was never threatened in scoring by 4 1/4 lengths from the smart Chiseled in 26.12s.
A fast start allowed him to dictate from box four on that occasion and he has drawn box five in the $12,000 to the winner State final.
Ironically, it was Exclusive One which lowered Barcia Bale’s 450m track record (to 24.88s) on May 10 and has remained unbeaten in seven subsequent starts. Exclusive One overcame trouble to win his heat in a tight three-way finish in 26.56s.
On July 30, he eclipsed Bartrim Bale’s 25.92s track record at Bulli and comes into this big clash with nine wins from just 12 starts. He’s missed a place only once in his brief career.
The other heat winners were Hoover Boy (26.44s) and Oaks Road (26.37s).
The box draw has not really favoured either runner with Barcia Bale drawing the middle of the field (box five) while is situated two places to his outside.
The box draw is: 1 Hoover Boy, 2 Chiseled, 3 Desalle Bale, 4 Oaks Road, 5 Barcia Bale, 6 Free Will, 7 Exclusive One, 8 Ritza Ryder. It’s A Blue and Vintage Blend are the reserves.
Such is the quality of the field, each way odds – and more - will be bet about recent Group 3 Bulli Ranvet Gold Cup winner Ritza Ryder, Perth Cup hero Oaks Road and Ladies Bracelet winner Desalle Bale.
It’s a race to stop the nation and the winner will take no end of beating at the spacious Hobart track some 12 days later.
Though the Sprint title holds most attention, the Stayers vie for the same money at Bulli and Hobart.
The NSW series over 701m had only two heats but there was no lack of action.
The opening heat went to Zsa Zsa in a moderate 41.06s. Seven days earlier she had broken the track record when a strong winner over Off My Trout in 40.43s but, this time, she was a clear last with 300m and winning looked a forlorn prospect.
Undeterred, the daughter of Flying Penske manouvered through the field and was able to race away from Irinka Gabby in the latter stages to score by three lengths. The time might not have been flash but the effort was supreme.
Soon after, the class of He Knows Uno shone through.
The all-distance star has previously raced at Bulli only once (over 472m in May last year) but his lack of genuine local experience was not a factor.
After being third mid-race, the Northern Rivers-based star set after Switch Up with 200m to run and proved to strong in 40.050 – another track record. Switch Up held on valiantly for second and must be included in the chances again on Monday.
The box draw for the State Distance Championship is: 1 He Knows Uno, 2 Thrilling Frank, 3 Cawbourne Pauly, 4 Irinka Gabby, 5 Irish Marina, 6 Switch Up, 7 Zsa Zsa, 8 Regal Gate. The reserves are Captain Krunch and Gail Allen.
This fantastic night of racing commences at 7.13pm and gate entry is free.