Hickmott wins over Lady Luck for Sprint Final

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Qld Regional Roundup by MIKE HILL

AFTER a bad run of injuries to two of his kennel stars – Moving Target and Akashi Kid – Bluewater-based trainer Michael Hickmott finally had some luck go his way during the Townsville Cup carnival.

Smart sprinter Good Odds Nutty, having only his second run after a two-month break, impressively won the $7875 TGOBTA North Queensland Sprint final (380m).

And it was just good luck that the Phil Thompson-owned black chaser was in the field.

Good Odds Nutty had been second reserve for the feature final after being the fastest fourth placegetter in the heats seven nights earlier.

But when Norse Viking and Murphy Rumble were scratched, the Hickmott sprinter was given his chance from box eight and he didn\’t let his connections down.

Starting at the juicy quote of $12 – well above his normal price – Good Odds Nutty bounced quickly from the outside box and by mid-race had scooted to the lead before hanging on to narrowly beat the George Tsakissiris-prepared Sketchy A Bit ($15) with Harold Hovi\’s $1.75 favourite Kilcullen five-and-a-quarter lengths away third.

The win took the Fabregas-Good Odds Regina sprinter\’s career record to 21 wins and eight placings from 43 starts and lifted his prizemoney to almost $39,000.

\”We were lucky to get a run,\” said a happy Hickmott.

\”He was having only his second run after a lengthy break and he was a little underdone.

\”I had been hoping to set him for the Cup but he had a trial mishap three weeks out.

\”He hit the rail and injured a wrist.

\”He was going well at the time and had regained his early sectional speed.

\”He\’d clocked a 7.35s first section in an earlier trial – that\’s flying.\”

A loss of early speed was the main reason Hickmott had given the talented sprinter a spell after a series of out-of-character unplaced runs.

Good Odds Nutty has been a model of consistency (15 wins and six placings from 31 NQ starts) since joining the Hickmott team in early October last year after arriving from the highly successful Frank Hurst Londonderry kennels.

However, he had a series of unplaced runs during May that baffled Hickmott.

\”He was missing the jump and I didn\’t know why,\” the trainer said.

\”I thought it could have been a result of changes to the way we box the dogs because of COVID-19.

\”He had drawn box one several times and was in the boxes longer than usual. It was that or he had an injury I couldn\’t find.

\”Anyway he deserved a break.

\”I\’m a big believer in giving my dogs a spell – as time heals everything.\”

Hickmott said he was happy with the way Good Odds Nutty had returned to the track.

\”He\’s been an unlucky dog and could have had a better record with a bit of luck,\” the trainer said.

The NQ Sprint victory was Good Odds Nutty\’s second feature success after winning the Anzac Trophy (498m) in April.

SMART sprinter Bumpy Black returned home to NSW central coast owner-trainer Neil Lyford last month after a highly successful  four-week campaign in North Queensland.

The well-bred black bitch (Barcia Bale-Izzy Marlow) had been sent north to caretaker trainer Greta Thomson for a tilt at the G3 Townsville Cup (498m) in early August.

Bumpy Black missed qualifying for the Cup final, but won the Cup Consolation before stamping her authority with a commanding victory in last month\’s $5250 Townsville Futurity (498m).

A hot $1.85 favourite, the black sprinter took control early and raced away for the four-and-three-quarter lengths victory over Matt McGuire\’s Tears To Glory ($5) with the Henry Parker-trained Bubbles and Brie ($3.80) another half-length away third.

Bumpy Black clocked a smart 28.86s for the trip.

Lyford said he was expecting the talented chaser to return home a more mature bitch.

\”I think the trip will definitely toughen her up to run a strong 500m,\” he said.

The trainer admitted he had sent the sprinter north \’a little bit underdone\’.

\”Her previous 18 starts had been over 388m to 450m and she was probably a couple of weeks off her best,\” Lyford said.

\”I felt she wasn\’t up to Group 1 and 2 standard, but I thought she might go all right in a G3 or Listed race.

\”I\’ve sold dogs to Townsville trainers over the years and Robert Lound trains Premier Return for me.

\”Robert suggested that Greta Thomson could look after Bumpy Black while in Townsville.\”

And Lyford said it had been a good move.

\”Greta has done a wonderful job,\” he said.

\”I couldn\’t be happier with the way the dog has performed.

\”Bumpy Black is always around males down here so having a female trainer will also help her development.

\”I think she will grow in confidence from the trip.

\”She should now be ready for a Wentworth Park start.\”

He said Bumpy Black had raced three times over 520m at Wentworth Park early in the year – missing a place in all three runs.

\”She was too young at the time,\” he said.

\”She was put into races with seasoned campaigners and she just couldn\’t match the stronger dogs.

\”She\’s two and a half now and more mature.\”

With COVID-19 regulations and border closures making it difficult for interstate trainers, Lyford thanked Racing Queensland for its assistance, saying \’control board officials had been very helpful\’ during Bumpy Black\’s stay in Queensland.

LEADING trainer Brad Belford has a huge opinion of his highly talented sprinter Major Gibson.

And that feeling only grew stronger after the black dog staged a courageous victory in last month\’s $3500-to-the-winner Townsville Derby (498m).

Major Gibson, jumping from box four, was squeezed up badly soon after the start, suffered more interference and was pushed sideways on the first corner to trail frontrunner Mali\’s Missile by five-and-a-half lengths down the back straight.

Despite the setbacks, the $2.15 favourite knuckled down to the job, hitting the front halfway down the straight and racing to a length victory over the Heath Ardle-prepared Mali\’s Missile ($5) with Henry Parker\’s Johnny Dark ($12) another length away third.

\”He showed a lot of ticker,\” said a proud Belford.

\”He\’s good, this dog can run.

\”He\’s as good as any dog I\’ve had and I\’ve had some good dogs over the years.

\”After his first two trials I told my wife \’he\’s the best dog we\’ve ever had\’ and I haven\’t changed my mind.

\”He tries so hard and gives the lot.

\”He\’d had enough on the line the other night, but that was only his third run over the 498m trip and he had to do a lot of work.\”

Belford said for pure speed Major Gibson was better than his two outstanding Rumbles – Rumble Master (61: 31-12-7) and Murphy Rumble (54: 24-13-3).

\”He\’s got unlimited potential,\” the trainer said.

\”He could be anything. He\’s one of those dogs that does everything right.\”

The Derby success took Major Gibson\’s impressive record to eight wins and a second from just 12 starts.

\”I have no doubt he would have broken the 380m track record if I had continued to race him over the sprint distance,\” Belford said.

\”He clocked 21.61s at only his fourth race start in July.\”

The current 380m record, held by Rocket\’s Magic, stands at 21.53s.

Belford said Major Gibson\’s next big targets were the NQ Cup (498m) in December and the Country Cup series in January.

Caption: Happy connections … trainer Michael Hickmott and Good Odds Nutty, winner of the TGOBTA North Queensland Sprint (380m) at Townsville with owner Phil Thompson and Melissa, Chanelle and Jordan Miller. (Photo: Louise Partland)

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