Maturing Valpolicella has Zammit hoping


Caption: Trainer Tony Zammit’s wife Maree with talented stayer Valpolicella, early favourite for the Dover & Sons 4th/5th Grade (630m) at Ipswich on Saturday night. (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos).

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Ipswich Greyhound Club’s Weekly Wrap with MIKE HILL

MASTER trainer Tony Zammit says it will be very interesting to see how talented stayer Valpolicella jumps at Ipswich on Saturday night.

Valpolicella, fresh from an impressive all-the-way victory in the $34,000 Group 3 Christmas Cheer (720m) at Wentworth Park last Saturday night, has drawn box eight in an Ipswich 4th/5th Grade (630m).

“There was no suitable race for her at Albion Park this week, so I threw a nom in at Ipswich,” Zammit said.

He said he was very impressed with Valpolicella’s Sydney run at the weekend.

What he liked most about the victory was her speed from the boxes, something he’s been anticipating for some time.

“It was the first time she had led in a 700m race,” Zammit said.

“Normally she comes from behind.

“She did a great job to come out with that class of a field and hold them out at the first corner.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do in coming starts. I’m hoping she can come out just as well.

“She’s full of potential.”

The trainer suggested Valpolicella (34: 17-6-6; $162,735) was maturing and gaining in confidence.

“If she can continue to show good early speed, she’ll be able to match it with the best, particularly as she does her best work at the end of her races,” he said.

Zammit has mapped out a busy summer campaign for the talented chaser, but he has a couple of decisions to make in coming weeks.

He said he wanted to give Valpolicella a run this week to maintain her fitness with her main mission the $150,000 G1 Gold Cup (710m) at Albion Park (heats January 25, final February 1).

“I’m also looking at the heats of the Golden Sands (600m) at Albion Park next Wednesday if there is no suitable 710m race for her on Thursday night,” the Yatala-based trainer said.

“I want to keep her racing. Stayers have to race week-to-week to keep up their condition.”

He’s also considering heading back to Sydney in mid-January for the $40,000 G2 Summer Distance Plate (720m) at Wentworth Park in preference to the Listed Clem Jones Cup (710m) at Albion Park.

“I was speaking to Sandro (Bechini, Valpolicella’s owner) yesterday morning about the $40,000 Sydney race,” Zammit said.

“Interstate trainers are likely to target the Clem Jones to give their stayers a look at the (Albion Park) track before the big cup.

“It’s a bit awkward having the races clashing.

“I’m leaning towards a Sydney trip at the moment, but I don’t like making plans too far ahead.”

Zammit said Valpolicella had pulled up well after her Sydney win and had maintained her racing weight on the return trip home.

“It means she’s a good traveller,” he said.

Meanwhile, Valpolicella faces a testing task in the $7400 Ipswich event on Saturday night.

Although the outside box shouldn’t be a concern for the black daughter of Shima Shine and Saldana, she’s up against the likes of the Jeff Crawford-trained Titanium Gunn, Greg Deering’s Courageous Carol and northern NSW chaser Tail Spinner.

Titanium Gunn pushed Valpolicella back to third place in an Albion Park FFA (710m) won by Icy Eyes earlier in the month and was again runner-up behind Scarlatti over 630m at Ipswich last Saturday after a slow getaway.

The Crawford stayer should benefit from box two, while Courageous Carol – a last-start winner over 710m at Albion Park – will jump from the inside box.

Tail Spinner, prepared by Jeff Ahern at Casino, ran on well to finish third behind Scarlatti and Titanium Gunn last week and is a place chance again.

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THE Colin Graham-trained youngster Loving Smile will attempt to keep her unbeaten record at Ipswich in the $6200 Orchestrate At Stud 4th/5th Grade Final (520m) on Saturday night.

The well-bred daughter of Hooked On Scotch and Distant Star (Moreira-Someday Lady) is unbeaten over the trip with two impressive recent victories (30.39s and 30.51s).

Currently Loving Smile’s record stands at five wins from just eight starts, including a super 29.99s win at Albion Park.

With fastest heat-winner from last week Top Gun (Darren Russell) an early scratching, Loving Smile, (box 5), the Jamie McHugh-prepared Bye Bye Raider (box 6), also a heat winner, and Robert Ayres’ Book Of Love (box 7) look the standout trio.

Bye Bye Raider (Bago Bye Bye-Zipping Astra) also has consistent form with seven placings from his past eight starts, while Book Of Love clocked a slick 30.40s when beaten less than two lengths by Top Gun last week.


SMART youngster Celtic Goddess made it three wins from three starts with a highly impressive victory in the Rhondda Gail Gossner Memorial Novice (520m) at Ipswich last Saturday.

The regally-bred red fawn sprinter (Fernando Bale-Sequana), well supported at $1.20, one of eight favourites to salute on the night, clocked 30.63s in her all-the-way win.

Owned by breeder Russell Farrell and trained by Shane Ellis at Burpengary on Brisbane’s north side, Celtic Goddess has begun her career in promising fashion after earlier winning a maiden heat-final series at Ipswich.

Meanwhile, littermate, Gone On Green, returns to the track after an 11-week break in Saturday’s opening race at Ipswich, the Christmas Stocking Maiden (520m).

The John Thompson-trained youngster hasn’t raced since being unplaced behind Very Handy over the same distance at Albion Park in early October at her third race start.

A week earlier Gone On Green had finished an encouraging runner-up to Apache Malt over the same trip.

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MEANWHILE, much-loved Santa, with Christmas Stocking in hand, made a special appearance for the younger ones at the Ipswich meeting last Saturday.

It was a night of fun and frivolity with face painting, free ice-blocks and lollies guaranteeing all had a great time.

Unfortunately, storms forced organisers to cancel the jumping castle activity.

The Ipswich club management and committee wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.



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