By Isaac Murphy
Jason Thompson has won some of the biggest races in Australia, but never has the Victorian had the sustained success he’s had at the Brisbane Cup.
The trainer recently recorded his fifth victory in the Group One with Equalizer, making it back-to-back wins with the help of caretaker Tony Brett after the pair combined with Black Opium in 2020.
Thompson said he goes up every year with a plan and Equalizer executed it to perfection for his maiden Group One.
“The dog went up to Brisbane a couple of weeks early with the idea to trial and race him before the Brisbane Cup Heats,” Thompson said.
“Both of those outings went perfectly before he stepped up to the plate and delivered on the big stage in the heats and the final of the Group One.
“We’ve been lucky enough to win some big races, but we’ve never had success like we’ve had at the Brisbane Cup, Equalizer giving us our fifth winner in the race.”
Five Group Ones is no fluke and there’s plenty about the trip to Queensland that agrees with Thompson’s chasers.
“There’s a number of factors that go into travelling to Queensland and winning a race of that stature,” he said.
“You’ve got to have the cattle to do it and Black Opium last year and Equalizer this year were both dogs just bursting to win a Group One.
“I think the fact the race is in Winter really help our dogs – getting them out of the cold in Melbourne and up to sunny Queensland they really seem to thrive.”
Equalizer is always a captivating watch, coming from last to get up and score in stark contrast to Thompson’s previous winner.
“It’s interesting to reflect back on the back-to-back wins of Black Opium and Equalizer,” he said.
“They’re both out of the same dam in Capitalizing, but they’re completely different when it comes to race patterns.
“Black Opium’s success was predicated on leading at the first turn, where as Equalizer’s come from last to win the race.
“Most importantly they’re both Group One Brisbane Cup champions.”
In an age where box speed is King a Group One sprint winner who comes from the back is a refreshing change.
“Lack of early speed can lose him races, but it can win him plenty of races too,” Thompson said.
“People say he’s had a bit of luck which he has, but you’ve still got to be good enough to take those runs.
“At the end of the day he’s still come out and run 29.52 which is a Brisbane Cup winning time.”
Thompson said there were days where he wondered if Equalizer could break through at the level, but knows he’s a threat anywhere now.
“It’s great to see a backmarker like him can still win a sprint race of this magnitude,” he said.
“More often than not the winner of these races is the dog that gets to the first turn in front, he’s flipped the script the way he goes about it.
“He’s got his blueprint and it’s taken him all the way to a Group One. His first is hopefully not his last.”
With a bustling kennel in Victoria, Thompson prefers to stay at home and sends his Brisbane Cup hopes to another perennial Brisbane Cup winner Tony Brett, a formidable combination in recent years.
“Tony (Brett) and I are both pretty busy keeping our own kennels in order and aren’t the type of mates who talk on the phone every day,” Thompson said.
“We’ve got a brilliant working relationship when it comes to the Brisbane Cup.
“I can call him four weeks out and he always makes room for a good dog.”
Thompson may have laid the groundwork, but Brett puts the polish on.
“It’s not as if I’m telling him what to do with the dogs either, that’s all Tony (Brett). I know how good a trainer he is and if there’s one man who knows how to win a Brisbane Cup it’s him,” Thompson said.
“The way we do it certainly works and hopefully I have the dog in twelve months’ time to send back up and shoot for three in a row as a partnership.”