THE build up to the heats of the 2020 Triple M Bendigo Cup provided an expectation of outstanding racing and the stars of the track did not disappoint today (Sunday), providing some upsets as well as some breathtaking displays of pure speed and athleticism.
Star sprinters and proven top grade performers Tiggerlong Tonk, Style Rico and Shima Shine were the stars of the day, all running the hands off the clock, with Andrea Dailly's freakishly talented chaser Shima Shine setting a new track record in the final heat.
Only midfield away, the Ballarat track record holder mustered his customary speed very quickly to carve out flying sectionals of 6.38 and 11.05, en route to stamping his authority on the Cup series with a record breaking 23.352, shaving 0.019 off Jim Zarr Dashian's standard.
Shima Shine's performance came just 20 minutes after reigning Shepparton Cup champ Hard Style Rico returned to the race track in scintillating fashion.
Facing the starter for the first time since late May, Hard Style Rico from box one showed the opposition a clean set of paws in registering 6.36 and 11.02 before stopping clock at 23.378, just 0.007 outside the then track record.
Superb sprinter Tiggerlong Tonk made his way into yet another big race final with an effortless 5.5 length win.
After beginning nicely from box five, the Horsham Cup winner and recent Group 1 placed chaser stopped the clock in 23.467 at his first look at the Bendigo circuit.
No doubt Tiggerlong Tonk will benefit from the run on the track, which is a scary thought given how impressive he was on Sunday, and trainer Correy Grenfell is hoping with a plethora of experience against the very best sprinters in the country, he will make his presence felt in the big final.
Heat action kicked off with young gun Midnight Monarch overcoming a slow start to unleash a powerful finishing burst to score in 23.785 and make his way into the final at just his eleventh start.
Trainer Christopher Tilley said that Midnight Monarch had been well schooled around the Bendigo circuit, having been originally set for the Gold Rush Maiden at Easter that was postponed due to COVID-19, and he was confident coming into the race that his charge would improve on his last start effort at the track when he hit the running rail.
Mount Wallace trainer Grenfell has two runners in Friday night's final after Yozo Bale took out heat two in 23.791.
Andrea Dailly also has two finalists with one of the kennel favourites Speed Star earning a well deserved place in the field with his usual 100 per cent effort in scoring his 37th career win in 23.782.
Slingshot Titan continued his incredible recent form scoring a 23.656 heat win for Deb Coleman and making it five wins and two seconds from his past seven starts, holding off the charge of New South Wales sprinter Mottza, while the Glenn Rounds trained Aston Peroni caused a mini-upset in taking out his heat in 23.882 from box one.
The box draw for Friday nights $50,000 to the winner final has made it a very interesting affair, with Shima Shine and Tiggerlong Tonk both drawing awkwardly in the middle boxes, while Hard Style Rico has drawn box two outside the Speed Star.
Friday night's Bendigo Cup meeting will include no less than seven features, including the Hip Pocket Bendigo Winter Cup Final, the GRV Vic Bred Maiden Final, Mannings Greyhound Complex Final, the Ready 2 Race mid year bonus event and the inaugural Battler's Cup final and consolation.
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