On a sunny Friday afternoon in the Northern Rivers region, four heats of the Charcoal Inn Casino Cup were run at Group 3 level around the 484-metre grass circuit. With trainers from both North and South of the area making the trip to tackle some of the local specialists, it was always going to be an entertaining days racing, and a very even field will greet the starter in a weeks time for track’s main feature final.
The heats kicked off in race five with Lymko Driver starting the $2.10 popular elect from box two. The daughter of Collision and Jay Jay’s Dancer was looking to make in five wins on the trot, including a hatrick on the Casino oval for local trainer Trevor Wilson and owner Kerry Vardy. Witchen Hour for Dean Turley was given the best chance of beating the favourite along with Queenslander, High Riser, who would start out of box four.
However, the favourite would have too much pace in the early stages and would lead all the way for a comfortable victory in 27.38 to bring up its 13th career win, with a first sectional of 2.76. Dark and Stormy for Evelyn Harris would hold out the others to gather up a final berth at its 82nd career start.
High Riser and Witchen Hour both begun fairly before finding bother and were placed at the tail of the field.
Heat Two of the Cup eventuated as a total rout, as Bralyn Midge for Brad Northfield blasted his rivals in 27.35 after beginning in 2.78 and leading all of the way. The daughter of Hallucinate and Bralyn Maisie was already an 18-time winner including several races around Wentworth Park, and was too classy on this occasion, bolting in by ten lengths.
Behind the winner it was Paul Cauchi’s Alex the Great getting the nod for the second qualifying spot after a poor getaway, making the trip away from the Queensland tracks worthwhile, however it would need to make up many lengths based on the time of the first two heat winners.
With the favourites dominating the earlier events, it was time for a value pick, and that came in the form of Jake’s Thunder at $8.80 in heat three. With Bralyn County stifling the market at $1.50, the interest seemed to be around second place, but with Brad Northfield’s runner missing the start, it was suddenly a very open affair.
The superior pace of Four Winds for Janette Finneran showed the way early in 2.89, however it was always under pressure with barely four lengths covering the field for most of the event. Runs were coming thick and fast off the back stretch however Jake’s Thunder wearing the blue rug dodged and weaved his way in between greyhounds to take the lead where it matters, winning by two lengths in 27.76. It was the dog’s eighth win at his first start outside of Queensland.
Four Winds clung on for second, ahead of the Rumble Magic who put in a strong finish for third. The hot-pot Bralyn County just couldn’t get into the race, winding up in sixth spot.
Saving the best until last was Miss Joyful, who showed up all that came before with the fastest heat run of 27.25. The Anthony Azzopardi trained chaser was quick to begin but settled behind Royal Victory past the post the first time. Trent Mate from the kennels of Keith Pedrana was expected to run a big race and looked poised to do so, before copping interference and finding itself at the back of the pack.
Heading towards home and Royal Victory was starting to wobble and Miss Joyful took over control of the race, and justified her starting price of $2.10. She finished it off in excellent fashion and will make her presence felt with a good draw next week. Kanuna Miss overcame a poor start to grab the last spot in the final in what will be the biggest test of her 57-start career.
The 2012 Group 3 Charcoal Inn Casino Cup final carries a winners’ cheque of $25,000 and is scheduled to be run next Friday afternoon.