Caption: Luke Thompson with Pirate Pete, who is likely to be sent to a Warragul Cup campaign (Photo: BlueStream Pictures)
By Andrew Thomson
Gun Victorian trainer Jason Thompson has two very exciting sprinters in his kennel.
Mr America (Se Tali Sundance-Motel Girl) has had five wins from five starts, including a 25.22 seconds win at Ballarat the same night as the Ballarat Cup heats.
The Ballarat effort would have been the second fastest time in the cup heats, behind surprise winner Daniel Avocado.
\”He\’s a nice young dog,\” Thompson said.
\”He\’s only 20 months in the middle of December and to run the times he\’s running, he\’s done well, (Including a 25.00 effort at Shepparton).
\”You couldn\’t ask any more. It was a good comparison matching up the times to the Ballarat Cup heats.
\”And he didn\’t do everything right in the run at Ballarat, he had to work to get to the front through the second split.
\”He could have gone three lengths quicker which would have been quicker than the cup heats.
\”Potentially in two, three, six months he\’s a country cups dog. He\’s a very nice dog, he\’s still quite untapped.\”
The trainer said he was planning to take Mr America to The Meadows to prepare for the Silver Chief heats.
\”That will give us an idea about whether he goes to the heats or we keep going to help gain experience,\” Thompson said.
\”I think 500m racing will really be his go in the long run, and he\’s got early speed, which is what everyone is after.
\”He\’s shown a lot from day one. He\’s shown good ability and then you have got to take that to the races and do it in race conditions.
\”He\’s still very young, but he has potential and ability and that gives you hope.
\”I don\’t think he would look out of place in a heat of the Silver Chief. He does a lot right.\”
Thompson said new Ballarat record holder Pirate Pete was also eligible for the Silver Chief, but was more likely to chase a Warragul Cup.
The Warragul Cup heats will be contested on Friday, January 8, with the group two final on Saturday, January 16.
Thompson said Pirate Pete\’s record of 19 starts for eight wins and nine placings indicated that while quick, the dog had problems when he was not leading.
\”He\’s very quick but I think he\’s still a work in progress. There\’s no doubt he\’s got the engine.
\”But, the engine and brain are not in coordination, not totally aligned at present. He\’s still a bit like a bull at a gate.
\”Instead of avoiding dogs he runs straight into them. If he gets clear air from a middle to wide draw he can unleash.\”
Prior to the Ballarat Cup heats Pirate Pete slashed almost a length of TopGun winner Shima Shine\’s Ballarat track record running 24.70.
\”It\’s a very hot run, a hot record. There\’s a lot of very good dogs who have raced at Ballarat,\” Thompson said.
\”The weather was nice and the track has been in good condition there for some time, but you still have to do it and run the time.
\”Plenty have turned up in the past and not broken the record. He\’s done it and holds the record.\”
Thompson admitted that Pirate Pete was not necessarily a super smart race greyhound.
\”He may develop into that, but at the moment things need to go his way,\” he said.
\”Mr America, out of the two, is the one who may go to the Silver Chief because he has very good race habits, and he\’s consistent.
\”If you read Pirate Pete\’s form he has been beat more often than he\’s won and that\’s surprising for a dog of his raw ability.
\”He\’s awkward and learning and hopefully he gets better. He\’s certainly got the engine. He\’s a work in progress, we\’re tinkering with the engine.\”
Thompson said he also had a couple of nice pups coming through his racing kennel.
\”You need to have some good ones coming through, pups capable of taking over,\” he said.
Melbourne Cup winner and new Sandown track record holder Hard Style Rico has been sent straight to stud by owner/trainer Luckie Katabitsakos.
\”People will be talking about that race for a long time to come,\” he said.
\”There were five outstanding greyhounds in the Melbourne Cup field and Rico got that fraction or room and made his own luck.
The 33kg brindle dog Hard Style Rico (Bella Infrared-Bella Rico) had 40 starts for 21 wins and seven placings, collecting just over $632,000 in prizemoney.
He clocked 28.91 seconds while winning the Melbourne Cup, breaking Hooked On Scotch\’s record, taking out the cup by 5.5 lengths over boom sprinter Simon Told Helen.
\”I\’m going to stand him at home. I\’m happy to do that, but there has been plenty of debate about the price,\” he said.
\”I\’ve settled on $2200, so that\’s affordable for everyone. I would like to see him successful at stud and getting pups on the ground is the key.
\”We\’ll also be targeting bitches on season.
\”Winning the cup and then making the decision to retire Rico has all been a bit overwhelming.
\”But, I think it\’s the right thing to do and we don\’t want to miss the boat in terms of breeding.
\”It\’s been a great ride. I always thought he could win a big race and do exactly what he did. He\’s got nothing more to prove,\” he said.