Caption: Jay Is Jay surges to the line, taking out his heat of the Golden Ticket (520m) at Albion Park on Thursday night in a fast 29.51. (Photo: Box 1 Photography)
By Pat McLeod
Jay Is Jay’s reign over Albion Park continues with the sprint star dominating the heats of the Golden Ticket (520m) at ‘The Creek’ on Thursday night.
“That is the dog and that is what he can run consistently,” master mentor Mick Zammit said after Jay Is Jay had turned the Golden Ticket series into a one-dog race … after the first heat.
“It is amazing just how fast he is and how he can do it regularly.”
Mick and wife Selena Zammit’s superstar had just set the bar at 29.51 in the unique match-race series and as the following three four-dog heats unfolded, no other dog came close to that time.
The series progresses to next Thursday night’s finale of four, two-dog match races, with the fastest dog collecting $60,000 and the Golden Ticket – direct passage into the final of the $375,000 Group 1 Gold Bullion Final on February 1 at Albion Park.
The Golden Ticket Final match races will be:
Blue Hornet (Box 1) vs Professor Snitch (Box 3);
Saige Tenniele (Box 1) vs Saanvi (Box 3);
Hello Mike (Box 1) vs Oh Minnie (Box 3);
Jay Is Jay (Box 1) vs King Of Aces (Box 3).
Jay Is Jay’s shadow looms large over both the finals of the Golden Ticket and the Gold Bullion.
The Sennachie – Kealoah chaser has unfinished business in the Group 1 Gold Bullion, having finished second to Travis Elson’s Hello Mike in last year’s final.
In an intriguing twist, Hello Mike returned to racing in the Golden Ticket heats after four months off and has also won through to next Thursday night’s final.
Other heat winners were Col Graham’s King Of Aces, who overcame a health scare during the week to reel off the second fastest heat, 29.77, and Jamie Hosking’s surprise packet Oh Minnie, who won her heat in a 29.92 PB.
However, the focus was justifiably on Jay is Jay.
“I was very impressed with that, a super run,” said Mick Zammit.
“Tonight he was pretty close to his best.
“He had a trial last week and probably needed it more than I realised, so it was good to see him perform like he did tonight.
“So, overall very happy.
“As far as looking further ahead to the Gold Bullion, he’s probably going better now than he was for last year’s race. He is beginning a lot better and that is a plus.”
Northern NSW-based Col Graham revealed after Thursday night’s heat that he had almost scratched King Of Aces from the Golden Ticket.
“I was very close to pulling him out. I almost did,” the veteran trainer said.
“Tonight is a big relief because I was very concerned about the dog this week. I wasn’t happy with him at all. He had a terrible week.
“He just didn’t pull up very well after last week’s race. He didn’t travel very well and then had a real gut-buster.
“Afterwards he was drinking a little bit too much.
“He only started to come good about two days ago.
“I came home from Ipswich (races) on Tuesday night and got him out of the kennel and that was the first time he appeared to be alright.
“Since then he has been really good.
“I was very happy with his run tonight, really happy.”
Another trainer with pre-race concerns was Hello Mike’s Travis Elson, with that dog returning for his first race since September 25.
“I was very concerned about him coming out of Box 7,” the Yandina Creek (north of Brisbane) trainer said.
“He has never been comfortable coming out of Box 7. He jumps OK from there, but doesn’t seem to be able to get across and really wants to be on the rail.
“But I had a talk with Mum (long-time trainer-breeder Cynthia Elson) during the week, and after that I felt a lot better.
“He has been off for four months, but his trials were getting increasingly faster.
“He ran 29.82 tonight. He is over three-and-a-half-years old now so I don’t think he has much more than 29.80 in him, but he tries, he tries very hard.
“The Gold Bullion is still the major aim.
“I don’t think he has to be going much faster than he is going now to win the Gold Bullion. A lot of it will come down to box draw and luck. If he draws an inside box in any field, he is very competitive.”
While Elson believes Jay Is Jay already has one paw on the Golden Ticket, he believes the Gold Bullion is another story.
“Anything can happen at box rise,” he said.
“They are not machines they are animals.
“Every dog is beatable on the night, but it is very unlikely that Jay Is Jay will be beaten in a two-dog match race.
“If he is to be beaten it would more likely happen in a full-dog field.”
Churchable trainer Jamie Hosking only had eyes for his surprise packet, Oh Minnie, after she conquered WA’s Group 1 winner Saige Tenniele and local contenders Another Chance (Selena Zammit) and Inconspicuous (Warren Nicholls) in their Thursday night heat.
“It was just good to see her do what she has been doing at Ipswich, Rockhampton, Casino, Maitland – everywhere we’ve taken her,” he said.
“I was happy with the run and 29.92. She hadn’t broken 30 before tonight. So that was good.
“She can run. She may not be a Jay Is Jay, but she can run 29.9, and maybe a little bit better.”