Russell Clean Sweeps Gold Cup Heats

DARREN Russell made a clean-sweep of Thursday night's Group 1 Gold Cup heats, while Black Opium scorched to a 29.54 Flying Amy heat success.

Adam Dobbin

13 June 2019

IN the lead up to the Group 1 Association Cup at Wentworth Park in April, trainer Darren Russell said he’d much prefer to be tackling Tornado Tears on his home track of Albion Park with Group 1 NZ Cup winner Bago Bye Bye.

Next Thursday, the leading Queensland conditioner gets his wish, after Bago Bye Bye stormed into the Group 1 TAB Gold Cup Final (710m) with a dazzling all-the-way 41.47 heat success last night.

For good measure, Russell landed the second of the Gold Cup heats also, with rising star Bago Bluff proving too strong for Dyna Chancer in a tidy 41.84, returning odds upwards of $61.00.

Finishing third in the second heat was defending champion Tornado Tears, the superstar son of Fernando Bale sprouting wings late to finish 2 ¼ lengths away from the winner for trainer Rob Britton.

BOX DRAW FOR THURSDAY’S GROUP 1 GOLD CUP (710m)

1. Bago Bluff 2. Tornado Tears 3. Dyna Chancer 4. Peppertide 5. Stevick 6. Bago Bye Bye 7. Poco Dorado 8. Infrared Lad 9. Veloce Nero 10. Ella Enchanted

Early betting for the Gold Cup decider has Tornado Tears an even money chance to defend his crown and claim a fifth career group 1 win from box two.

Bago Bye Bye is quoted a $2.70 chance for his quest to claim a second group 1, and what would be his first on Australian soil.

On a fantastic night of racing at Albion Park on Thursday, five heats of the Flying Amy Classic (520m) were also run and won, the time standard heading into next week’s $75,000 to-the-winner final clearly with the Tony Brett-trained Black Opium.

The Melbourne and Australian Cup runner-up recently shifted to Tony Brett’s kennels for the winter riches on offer in Queensland and the daughter of Black Magic Opal kicked off her campaign in superb fashion, recording a scintillating 29.54 on Thursday night.

Winner at 14 of her 23 appearances, Black Opium has drawn the rails alley for next Thursday’s bumper finale, where she’ll tackle some top quality opposition, including Steve White’s Queensland Derby hero Sennachie, an impressive 29.83 heat winner.

NSW star Feral Franky turned in an outstanding performance to reel in Glorious Izmir in his heat to record a 29.98 win, while the first of the qualifiers went the way of Nangar Diva for Dennis Barnes in 30.07, making full use of a saloon passage heading through the first bend.

Queenslander Wildash Jakey was too slick in his heat recording 30.08, defeating Good Odds Harada by four lengths.

BOX DRAW FOR THURSDAY’S FLYING AMY CLASSIC (520m)

1. Black Opium 2. Shakey Diesel 3. Wildash Jakey 4. Sennachie 5. Feral Franky 6. Nangar Diva 7. Fernando’s Riot 8. Glorious Izmir 9. Dynamite Lucy 10. Good Odds Harada

If it wasn’t already, the box draw really makes it advantage Black Opium, with early markets installing the star chaser $1.65 ahead of Sennachie ($4.60) and Feral Franky ($7.00).