By TERRY WILSON
LEADING trainers Jason Thompson and Tony Brett have been interstate rivals for years, but they found a way to get around the coronavirus-enforced border ban for the Brisbane Cup.
With virus laws demanding that Victorian people have to be in quarantine for a fortnight if they come to Queensland, Thompson and Brett called on their long-time friendship to land the Group 1 Brisbane Cup (520m) with Black Opium.
It was through their sheer respect for Brett that Jason and Seona Thompson flew Black Opium and Hooked On Scotch to Queensland to be based at Brett’s Grandchester kennels for the winter carnival’s highlight event.
It proved to be a wonderful partnership because, although Hooked On Scotch missed a placed in the final, Black Opium not only won the race but also became the fastest bitch over 520 metres at Albion Park with her run of 29.44 seconds.
The obvious question regarding trainers sending their top-liners to another trainer goes back to a matter of trust.
“I have big wraps on Tony, anybody who doesn’t have a wrap on him doesn’t know the industry,” said Thompson.
“It’s more of a business relationship because we train dogs down here (in Victoria) and he trains dogs up there.
“So we’re very lucky to be able to send our dogs to him. If we have dogs going to Queensland to race for any event it makes it easier for us.
“We know that whatever we send up to Tony is going to be looked after as good as they would if they were at home.”
The opposite has applied to Brett, who sent Thirty Talks to the Thompsons a few years back.
It is a matter of trust and professionalism, according to the Victoria trainer.
“This is a good working business relationship we have,” said Thompson.
“As long as Tony has the room for whatever dogs we may have for a race I’m sure he’d be happy as well.”
Last year Thompson sent Black Opium to Brisbane for the inaugural Brisbane Cup when she ran second to the mighty Sennachie in the final.
Then the Cup was worth $250,000 to the winner and Black Opium (second) earned $60,000 for connections.
This time around, after cuts forced on racing by the COVID-19 virus, first money was down to $54,000 although the race still carried Group 1 status and both Brett and Thompson could see the irony of her winning this time, but taking lesser first prizemoney.
It was the privilege of getting a G1 tick beside Black Opium’s name.
“At the end of the day, just to get a Group 1 win next to your name, I’d probably race for a Mars bar,” said Thompson.
“I was absolutely over the moon with the way she went and I’m obviously rapt with the job Tony does with the dogs.
“A Group 1 accolade sometimes exceeds what the prizemoney is because there are not too many around and they’re hard to win.”
Brett agreed with Thompson on the G1 status.
“For a professional trainer they’re like Olympic gold medals,” said Brett.
Brett was asked to compare Black Opium with any other greyhound he has put a muzzle on.
“She would be up there, for sure,” said Brett.
“I had Bogie Leigh and this little girl reminded me a lot of her, as in their temperament and racing style.”
Coming up at Albion Park this month are the Queensland Distance (710m) and Sprint (520m) finals on August 13. These events are for state honours only because the national finals will not be run this year as victims of the virus restrictions.
The Queensland finals both carry $22,000 purses and will be followed later this month (27th) with the $12,600 Publicans Cup final, an event for fifth grade performers.
(Photo: Box 1 Photography)