The Nationals get under way this week with the Sprint heats being run on Thursday and Saturday nights in the various states.
We will have a look at a couple of the Victorian heats at Sandown and one from Albion Park where star sprinter Shipwreck returns to Queensland after a big win at Wentworth Park last Saturday night.
RACE 3, THURSDAY
Heat 2 of the Victorian Sprint.
A FASCINATING race with the TAB favourite, ZARA’S IVAN ($2.50) coming into this race on the back of a couple of sub-par runs here and at Geelong.
Had the same box when well beaten by COMPLIANCE at Geelong last Friday night, the winner ran a fast 25.60 and won by nearly three lengths.
Zara’s Ivan has a big motor when on song, but I think he is racing a few lengths below what he was a few months ago, and he doesn’t really look much value here.
RAPAKI ROCKS is a dog with plenty of ability but he can find ways to be beaten as well.
A good draw (Box 2) and the small field will be a big help here. He sizzled in a satisfactory trial here on July 24 when he ran 29.21, and I notice he was down nearly a kilo in weight on his previous race start a month ago. Loves Sandown where he has won five from six starts, and he looks the one to beat.
PHOTO MAN returns from a very successful stint in Queensland where he won a G2 final and was competitive at the best level in a handful of runs.
Normally a reliable beginner, Photo Man looks the possible leader from the outside draw, unless Zara’s Ivan finds the early lead, which he can do occasionally. Photo Man has been well backed in the early TAB market, firming from $4.40 into $3.40.
2. RAPAKI ROCKS
1. ZARA’S IVAN
8. PHOTO MAN
RACE 5, THURSDAY
Heat 4 of the Victorian Sprint
COMPLIANCE won the Ballarat Cup back in April with a sheer display of speed, and he looks suitably drawn in Box 2 to step to the front here and be the one to beat.
We last saw Compliance at Sandown three starts ago when he led all the way to win in 29.48, and that was on the back of a super quick split of 5.03. Although beaten here at his next start, Compliance bounced back with a win at Geelong last Friday night in a slick 25.60. He looks the logical leader here, the last 50 metres will be worry, so hopefully he can pinch a decent break early.
BIG OPAL ROCKS is one of the fastest dogs in Australia, but his pattern of racing will see him at the rear of the field early so he always needs luck.
He has a win at Sandown in 29.02 back in April but it was probably one of his losses here that was one of his best runs. Big Opal Rocks was pitted against WOW SHE’S FAST in the Speed Star Match series in late May, and on a sloppy track Big Opal Rocks ran Wow She’s Fast to a shade under two lengths in 29.11.
He has since had a couple of runs in Brisbane and although he did win a heat of the Brisbane Cup he wasn’t at his best that night, or in the final, when he was unplaced behind Orchestrate. With a month off in between runs, perhaps he will show a bit more zip this week, look for him to be storming home either way.
I think the winner will come from that duo.
ZIPPY TESLA and MCKEON BALE are both capable of causing an upset but both are poorly drawn in boxes four and seven respectively
6. BIG OPAL ROCKS
4. ZIPPY TESLA
7. MCKEON BALE
RACE 7, THURSDAY
Heat 1 of the Queensland Sprint
That’s the name on everyone’s lips at the moment after the Queensland star made his debut at Wentworth Park last Saturday night.
Shipwreck trialled at Wentworth Park the previous week in 29.64, but last Saturday night he was opposed to a pretty handy Free For All field and drawn on the wrong side of the track in Box 8.
However, he showed amazing dash to cross at the judge the first time, and completely demolished that field in 29.32, one of the quickest runs of the year. On that run, it should be easy pickings for him when he goes around at Albion Park on Thursday night in the first heat of the sprint, but he has again drawn wide in Box 7.
Last Saturday night was the first time that we have seen what he can do early if left alone, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up early as he has some pace drawn to his left.
This dog just keeps improving with each run, he would run through a brick wall, so I expect him to win. TAB markets agree as he is a warm $1.65 favourite.
IMPACT stands out as the obvious danger. He was beaten up the straight at Capalaba in the ‘Straight of Origin’ last Sunday but he had very little luck in the run there. Go back four runs ago and he ran fourth in the Brisbane Cup behind Orchestrate after winning his heat in 29.80.
He has always raced well at Albion Park over this trip where he has won 10 of his 24 starts, and he can show pace from the boxes. That would be the main reason he has met with some early support.
3. DECLAN MONELLI
8. KISS AND SPIN
Gerard Daffy is part of the TAB Media team based in Queensland. Gerard can be heard daily on RadioTAB which includes his popular Thursday morning program, On The Lure and Sky Sports Radio. Gerard also appears regularly on SKY 2’s The Catching Pen with Jason Lincoln and Matt Jackson.
*Prices correct at time of publishing.
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