Upsets were the order of the evening in the four semi finals of the Group One AJS Corporation Silver Chief at the Meadows on Saturday night.
Just one favourite runner (Top Innings) finished in the top two and managed to qualify for next week's $100,000 to-the-winner final.
The field looks very even for week's main event with plenty of new names on the scene all bidding to become the next Group One champion. The box draw for the final is listed below.
Semi Final 1
Kid Maximus (5) kicked off proceedings by causing an upset in the first semi final, leading throughout to score in 30.22. Kid Maximus found some of his early dash that had been lacking a little in recent outings, leading quickly from box five in a first section of 5.11. Second favourite Veetee Turbo (4) suffered some interference as they went through the first turn but managed to get to second place into the back straight and set out in pursuit of the leader. Keybow (6) sat deep on the track and also loomed as a danger given his propensity to run on. But all honours were with the Peter Akathiotis trained son of Where's Pedro and Aussie Belle who staved off both challengers to score by one and three quarter lengths. Veetee Turbo hung on for second place just in front of Keybow to book his place in next week's big final. It was just Kid Maximus' second win since May and his third at the Meadows from 24 outings.
Semi Final 2
In what always looked the toughest of the four races on paper, the upsets continued in the second semi final when Ollie Bale (2) stormed home to salute in 30.08, setting the time standard for the four semi finals in the process. Shifty Sticka (5) started a short priced favourite and, while it was never going to be easy for him from that draw, not many thought he would bomb the start completely and virtually have zero chance from box rise. Empire Allen (3) found the front early in 5.11. But his kennelmate Ollie Bale's presence on the fence in second place was always going to be his main threat given the dogs strong run home. Tiggerlong Chief (8) landed in third early and scouted wide from the outside draw. Off the back, Empire Allen managed to maintain a three length ascendency but by the time they swung for home Ollie Bale began to wind up and went by Empire Allen with a withering finishing burst, scoring by one and three quarter lengths. Empire Allen finished in the all important second placing to make it an Andrea Dailly quinella, with Gimme Fuel (4) finishing third. Ollie Bale's run home was the feature of the race, the run home time was 12.30 with Ollie Bale running over the top of the leader in that time. The son of Go Wild Teddy and Zambola Bale showed that he has inherited some of the strength that was a trademark of his mother during her career.
Semi Final 3
After three semi finals, punters were still yet to get it right with yet another favourite missing a place. Deadly Vane (5) finished solidly to win in 30.22 for trainer Joe Borg in a mixing affair. Favourite Allen deed (1) left the boxes quickly but was quickly challenged by both Deadly Vane and Beckenbauer (6) in a run to the first turn that was no place for the faint hearted. The line of three passed the first section in 5.15. Allen Deed and Deadly Vane bumped slightly and Beckenbauer made the most of an uninterrupted run to scorch away down the back. His only danger from that point was Deadly Vane, with the rest of the field a long way back. Beckenbauer fought on strongly but could not quite hold of the fast finish of Deadly Vane who grabbed him in the shadows of the post to score by half a length. Hailstorm Billy (7) ran on solidly to finish third. The win sees Deadly Vane maintain his perfect record at the Meadows with the son of Vee Man Vane and Surfing Idol winning four from four at the circuit.
Semi Final 4
Top Innings (1) led throughout to win the final semi final in 30.10 for trainer Jeff Britton. The son of High Earner and Ricky's Angel, who is part owned by former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, set an early mark of 5.15 and railed like the lure to make the most of the inside draw and hold the lead from Ride The Rails (6). Top Innings skipped away down the back with a line of three dogs in pursuit. Jordan Allen (4) and Godric Gryfindor (8) were doing their utmost to abbreviate the leaders margin with Ride The Rails, who was posted outside that duo, really starting to wind up as they left the back straight. But Top Innings managed to pack too much punch and hang on for a one and a quarter length win from Ride The Rails, with Godric Gryfindor finishing in third placing. The win was Top Innings' fifth from eleven career starts and he made it two from two at The Meadows in the process.
Box Draw for the 2014 Group One AJS Corporation Silver Chief Final;
1 - Kid Maximus - Peter Akathiotis
2 - Ride The Rails - Darren Brown
3 - Deadly Vane - Joe Borg
4 - Veetee Turbo - Michelle Mallia-Magri
5 - Empire Allen - Andrea Dailly
6 - Beckenbauer - Darren McDonald
7 - Top Innings - Jeff Britton
8 - Ollie Bale - Andrea Dailly
9 - Gimme Fuel - Kelly Bravo
10 - Keybow - Darren McDonald