(Photo: Box 1 Photography)
By MIKE HILL
CHURCHABLE trainer Warren Nicholls believes rising staying star Days Of Thunder can match it with the very best.
“We think we have something special in her,” he said this week.
“And we’re not worried about anyone.”
Nicholls and owner Clinton Gill’s belief in the talented white bitch will be put to the test in coming months.
Immediate plans are to run her in next month’s Nationals series (Queensland qualifier, August 11, winner goes to Sydney final, August 27), then the Sydney Cup at Wentworth Park in September.
Nicholls’ confidence in Days Of Thunder is sky high following a sensational month of racing by the daughter of Fernando Bale and Melissa’s Pride in which she was a fast finishing third to Collinda Patty in the Group 1 Queensland Cup (710m) before a highly impressive triumph in the G3 TAB Origin Greyhound Series Distance Final (710m) at Albion Park.
Then at the weekend she produced a powerful, runaway victory in the $14,990 Ipswich Grand Prix (732m).
“I was really happy with the Ipswich run … she went well,” said Nicholls.
“It was a very strong, solid win considering the track was extremely heavy.
“The three (Farmor Alfa’s) was always going to lead.
“I was happy to see my bitch lob behind the leader and stay there instead of drifting back.”
Days Of Thunder, the hot $1.08 favourite, took control passing the judge the first time and raced away to an eight-and-a-half length victory, beating Rusty Dillon’s Dundee Ember ($7) with $51 outsider Oh So Sassy (Andrew Webb) almost another two lengths away third.
The talented stayer, nicknamed the ‘The White Wonder’ by racecaller John Brasch, has now won five of her past eight starts, with two placings, since returning from a fruitless stint down south.
She raced at Wentworth Park and Sandown Park in April and May without placing but Nicholls believes the trip has been the makings of her.
“She was timid and we wanted to take her ‘out of her comfort zone’,” he said.
“Our plan was to have a better dog by the end of the year.”
Both owner and trainer have now got their wish.
“She’s returned a different dog,” said Nicholls. “She’s more mature … a far better race dog.
“She’s now knocking you over to get to the track. And her finishing times are sensational.
“She’s running sub 13s final sections at the end of 710m.
“She clocked 12.90s in her last Albion Park win.”
Before her trip away Days Of Thunder had broken 42s just once over the Albion Park 710m journey from 11 starts, but since returning she has been in the 41s bracket six of seven starts with a 41.67s (twice) PB.
It has greatly boosted the confidence of connections going forward.
Her Grand Prix win at Ipswich lifted her record to 11 wins and 10 placings from 35 starts and pushed her earnings to just over $154,000.
Nicholls knows he has a talented stayer and is planning an ambitious mission to take on the nation’s best stayers in coming months in both Sydney and Melbourne.
“We now feel every time we go to the track we’re in with a great chance,” he said.
“We can’t wait to take her away. Just bring it on”.