Golden Sands Final changes dramatically for Rolph, Tzouvelis

Caption: Bat Sign (Stephen Rolph) edges out Pursuer (Tom Tzouvelis) in a heat of the Group 1 Golden Sands (600m) at Albion Park. Rolph has been forced to scratch his chaser from Thursday night’s final. (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

By Pat McLeod

Brisbane trainers Stephen Rolph and Tom Tzouvelis were far from home when the complexion of Thursday night’s $150,000 Group 1 Golden Sands Final (600m) at Albion Park changed dramatically for both.

Rolph was in the Japanese ski resort city of Myoko when he sent through official notification scratching his hot chance Bat Sign from the $100,000-to-the-winner race.

Tzouvelis was a couple of hundred kilometres out to sea off the Queensland coast on a family cruise when he was told that his very accomplished middle-distance chaser Scintillate had been given a dream elevation from the reserves bench to Box 1 in a Group 1 final.

“I have officially scratched the dog (Bat Sign). He won’t be going around in the final,” a deflated Rolph said.

“The dog had a poor race recovery (after winning his heat). Possibly a mild case of acidosis. He had to be treated, which meant there would be medication in his system, so he couldn’t race.

“Bottom line, the dog’s welfare is the priority.”

While not ‘shattered’, Rolph said he was obviously very disappointed with the outcome.

“The dog was a genuine chance,” he said.

“In pre-race markets he was equal favourite and would have improved off last week’s run.

“So, it is disappointing, but there is nothing you can do. Hopefully there are plenty more wins in store for him.

“The dog will be back racing very soon. He and (litter brother) Cobblepot will have a quiet week or so and then get back into it.

“Hopefully he might have caught the eye of the Melbourne greyhound club and will be considered for a Rookie Rebel (600m) invite at their upcoming Australian Cup carnival.”

Rolph said he was about to go out and buy a lottery ticket after ticking off the third of ‘bad luck comes in threes’.

“Where we are staying is only about 30kms from the epicentre of the recent earthquake. Our building shook a lot, but we didn’t have any injuries or damage.

“But it was very frightening.

“Then there was the planes colliding at Tokyo airport. We weren’t anywhere near that thankfully. And finally, we miss out on a Group 1 race.

“So, time to buy that lottery ticket.”

Caption: Trainer Tom Tzouvelis, left, with his father, Nick, right, and a family friend (Ron), on a long-planned family cruise to Vanuatu. Tzouvelis will miss Thursday night’s $150,000 Group 1 Golden Sands Final (600m) at Albion Park.

As Rolph was contemplating what might have been Tzouvelis was enjoying his family cruise and hoping one of his now-three runners in the Golden Sands Final – Scintillate (Box 1), Sorority (Box 5) and Pursuer (Box 7) – can salute.

“Steve and his father (Hassel) have been good trainers for a long time and it is sad that they have to scratch their dog out of such a major race,” he said.

“But, one door closes and another one opens.

“We are not a chance of leading like he was and we still need luck in running for our three dogs.

“The scratching of Bat Sign probably presents a better opportunity for Father Rick (Ray Webster), out of Box 3, because he looks like the guaranteed leader now.

“Sean Galloway’s dog (Springtime Rose, out of Box 2) also gets a dream run because he will beat Scintillate out of the boxes.

“If anyone deserves to win a group race it is Sean and his family.

“We have runners in the race, but if we can’t win, I hope Sean does.”

Tzouvelis has a high opinion of Scintillate, who is getting back to her best after a serious injury.

“The run of Scintillate last week really was super,” he said.

“She was squeezed up at one stage and probably lost five or six lengths and then rattled home the best of the night in 12.82.

“She will be hard to beat from the draw.

“She had about eight months off the track with a bad wrist injury which took forever to heal.

“Because she lost so much fitness, she has taken a while to come back.

“She has been building up in the distances gradually and took longer than expected, but has been getting better and better and I thought her heat run was a sign that she was almost back to her best.

“She has a genuine group motor and hopefully will show that on Thursday night.

“I am definitely excited about Thursday night. You can never be super confident in a group race because a dog like Father Rick might bounce along on the bunny and get six or seven in front and pinch the race.”

Tzouvelis said he and about 20 family members were on the seven-day cruise to Vanuatu as a special treat for his father Nick, who has been unwell.

The ship is expected to be back in Brisbane Thursday night and Tzouvelis will not be trackside.

“Dad and I will be watching,” he said.

“He is still very interested in how all our dogs are going. He has loved greyhound racing all his life.

“Whatever the result, this will be special.”



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