Group 2 Birthday Cup Runner-By-Runner

Brett Honey takes a detailed look at each runner in tonight’s Group 2 Birthday Cup (400m) at Mandurah.

Box 1: West On Boonie (Chris Halse)

West On Boonie did what he had to do in his heat and was able to score in 22.32. Box 8 was certainly his friend last week as it allowed him to wind up out wide and be on the scene early. While box 1 is what 95% of connections would be hoping for in a 400-metre final, I have serious concerns about the cherry for Boonie. With more early speed in the final, Boonie won’t be afforded the room he had last week and he’s certainly more comfortable going around dogs. It’s hard to rule him out, but he will need luck.

Box 2: Renegade Cochise (Cosi Dagostino)

What a recruit this bloke has been for Cosi. Since arriving in WA Renegade Cochise has sizzled through the grades and is an undefeated 6 for 6 over this distance at Mandurah. He’s typically tardy off the mat but has a turn of foot few can match in the state once he gets going. He sorted those box manners last week and clocked the fastest first section of the meeting (6.08). He will need to produce a similar effort if he is to lead this week and he needs to lead to win. All Over Kaja in three runs a straight line so he may get some of that room he needs. He runs the time, he’s a huge threat, but he must step to win the Birthday Cup.

Box 3: All Over Kaja (Lewis Clay)

All Over Kaja made it look easy in his heat, posting a slippery 22.07 in winning his way through to the final. He had box 7 and you could see on the head-on shot how much he enjoyed it out there, where he was able to take his time to cross before putting his opposition away. Kaja has been competitive without winning against Crumble Monelli in recent months but I don’t think the draw has helped him one bit in turning the tables. Boxed between Renegade Cochise and Crumble, he’s unlikely to get any peace early and will need his best first split to lead here. If he did manage to sneak away in front, he’d be very hard to run down.

Box 4: Crumble Monelli (David Hobby)

The reigning champ (pictured)  is simply made for this track and trip and is undefeated through four starts over the new 400m starting point. He can be hit and miss early but his superior muster sees him lead most of his races and is aided by the fact that there is not as much speed boxed outside him compared with those drawn below. If he can beat out All Over Kaja in three, his map looks fine and that makes him easily the hardest to beat. He’s the best dog in the race and those who like him are getting a reasonable enough price to find out.

Box 5: Cubit Monelli (David Hobby)

This is the acid test. Cubit Monelli has turned heads at both Mandurah and Cannington, and is responsible for some of the quickest times at either circuit over the last twelve months. After having to do some work early in his heat, he quickly put pain to his rivals to run 22.00, the fastest of the six heats. He has his quirks and has plenty to learn, but he brings the X Factor to this final. He will need to do better than 6.30 early (his first split last week) to find himself a strong position in running and has a railer drawn outside him in Go Seek Kotoni. The others will be very nervous if he managed to land in the first couple.

Box 6: Go Seek Kotoni (Damien Crudeli)

Go Seek Kotoni was game in his heat last week, making plenty of ground on Renegade Cochise in the concluding stages to only go down by ¾ of a length. His time of 22.16 bettered two of the heat winners as well. His best work clearly comes from the inside and box 6 gives him no favours in this. He will struggle to find the rail early enough here and in the likely event he doesn’t cross, the map looks poor. I think the box gets him beat.

Box 7: No Limit Needed (Christine Robartson)

No Limit Needed has been a wonderful campaigner for team Robartson and whilst she’s taken a while to find her best since returning, she’s timed it very well to make this final. She was afforded room to operate when winning her heat from box 2 last week and was too strong for her rivals late. Box 7 isn’t her go and there is far more speed in this race which makes her task very difficult. She is aided by Kotoni in 6 working to the fence and Barrio Beast outside her who isn’t known for early dash. This might be a stretch too far, but it wouldn’t shock to see her run on.

Box 8: Barrio Beast (Lewis Clay)

The Beast found his best last week and after being moderately away, served it right up to Crumble Monelli, qualifying in 22.17. Box 1 certainly helped, but his record from outside draws is far from hopeless. He will be relying on some trouble up front to keep in touch early, but his 10.58 run home last week suggests he will be one of the stronger ones late. He can hit the frame at a big price but will need luck to win.

The Verdict: Crumble Monelli

I’m happy enough to be with the favourite in a sensational edition of the Birthday Cup. He’s the best 400 metre dog in the race and just needs to beat out All Over Kaja for his map to look very manageable. They won’t catch him if he leads. Like the rest of the field, he will need to do everything right but he’s clearly on top for me. If you’re playing exotics, keep No Limit Needed and Barrio Beast safe, I can see one of those two hitting the frame with some luck out wide.