Star Victorian stayer Irma Bale may have been surprisingly beaten in her heat of the Tedesco Menswear Chairman’s Cup last weekend, but legendary trainer Graeme Bate expects his Sandown Cup heroine to “improve out of sight” in Saturday night’s Group 3 feature.
Three heats of the $25,000 to-the-winner Chairman’s Cup were held at headquarters last Saturday, where Irma Bale made her Wentworth Park debut in the opening qualifier.
Coming off a brave second to all-conquering Western Australian champion Miata in the National Distance Championship in Hobart, beaten just three-quarters of a length, Irma Bale started at $1.90 and showcasing her trademark early speed, raced to a seemingly insurmountable lead.
The daughter of Bartrim Bale and Amelia Bale still looked all over a winner turning for home, but in a major upset she wasn’t able to repel a late challenge from local roughie Hot Buzzard.
Trained by Ron Bell at Blacksmiths, Hot Buzzard edged out Irma Bale by a neck in 42.30.
But far from being disappointed with Irma Bale’s defeat, Bate, who won the Chairman’s Cup in 2009 with Irma Bale’s ‘aunty’ Amity Bale, was pleased with her effort and expects the multiple Group winner to prove much harder to run down in Saturday night’s Cup decider.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all in her heat run – in fact I was very happy with her – and I think she’ll improve out of sight this week,” an upbeat Bate said.
It’s likely Irma Bale will duel for Chairman’s Cup favouritism with the number one stayer in NSW, Mick Patterson’s He Knows Uno, which set the time standard in the Cup heats.
Back home in NSW after finishing fifth to Miata in the National Distance Championship, He Knows Uno made short work of his heat rivals, romping home seven lengths ahead of Thrilling Frank in a fast 42.09, a new personal best at headquarters for the powerful son of Primo Uno and Honeymoon’s Over.
With Irma Bale set to lead on Saturday night with a repeat of last week’s brilliant sections, it’s likely to be a case of whether He Knows Uno can gun her down in what shapes as a real battle of the titans.
Best bet: Pah Leeze (Race 6)
Value bet: Star Sapphire (Race 3)
Quaddie: Race 5 - 1, 4, 8
Race 6 - 1, 4, 5
Race 7 - 2, 4, 5
Race 8 - 4, 7
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