ANTHONY Azzopardi is looking forward to a big night of racing at Wentworth Park this Saturday, with two runners engaged in the Group 1 Paws of Thunder (520 metres) and one in the Group 2 Summer Distance Plate (720 metres).
Undoubtedly, the star of Azzopardi’s trio is the exhilarating Zambora Brockie which will line-up from box six in the Paws of Thunder as the $2.00 favourite with online bookmaker Crownbet.
The son of Nitro Burst and Flying Liddy recorded a best of night 29.60 in his heat last weekend after shanghaiing out of the boxes, scoring by nine-and-three-quarter lengths over a gallant Bessy Boo.
Azzopardi was in awe of the performance which was Zambora Brockie’s seventh Wentworth Park victory.
“He is a freak of nature,” he said.
“We went into the series expecting him to do what he did on Saturday – he was freshened up for the race and he had a great box.
“There is not much more you can say about him – he is an absolutely phenomenal dog.”
Azzopardi says he is not too concerned about box six in the $100,000-to-the-winner final, with last year’s Group 1 Vic Peters Classic winner usually a good beginner.
“I don’t think box six will worry him as long as he can begin – if he can repeat the start like he did in his heat then he will be very hard to stop.
“When he first started he was a really good beginner, but being a young dog he made a couple of mistakes, but he has got the hang of it now and has started to mature into an exceptional greyhound.”
Azzopardi rates Zambora Brockie so highly he says the black chaser, a winner of 12 of his 20 career starts, has what it takes to be the best he has prepared throughout his decorated career.
“Every dog is different but he is definitely up there with the best I have trained and the way he is going I think he has the potential to become the best dog I have ever trained.
“You get the good dogs that come along and you can pinch a good race or two with them, but this dog is capable of climbing the ladder and mixing it with the best of them – he is a very smart animal.”
While Zambora Brockie may be Azzopardi’s headline act in the Paws final, the Londonderry mentor also has the consistent ASA Flying Spur set to jump from box three.
One of the underdogs in the series, the son of Kinloch Brae and Cawbourne Shine caused an upset in his heat, upstaging star Victorian Dyna Double One to book his spot in the decider in 29.89.
“I’m not going to lie, we were a little bit surprised, but he is such a lovely little dog and it is a big achievement for him to make a Group 1 final being so young…he isn’t even two yet,” Azzopardi said.
“He is doing really well at the moment and he ran the same time in his heat as Smart Missile and he is an absolute machine – so it is very encouraging.
“He is boxed really well in the final – if a couple of the others make a mistake and he is up in front he may be able to get away with it.”
Other notable chasers to consider in the Paws of Thunder final are Nanger Flame ($4.25) and Smart Missile ($4.80 with Sportsbet) which have drawn boxes one and four respectively.
Aside from the main event of the night, Azzopardi will also have a shot at claiming the Group 2 Summer Distance Plate with front running stayer No Donuts.
The 30 kilogram powerhouse is a recent edition to Azzopardi’s kennel, having joined his team following on from a successful stint in Victoria where he claimed the Group 1 Sale Cup (650 metres) on Boxing Day.
Jumping fairly from box five in his heat, No Donuts rolled straight to the early lead and managed to hold off a late challenge from Ryno’s Raider to score in 42.42 over the testing trip.
“When I got him we didn’t know if he would run the 700 but he had the right preparation to do so if he was capable of it – and he just lasted on Saturday night,” Azzopardi explained.
“I don’t think he is going to be a genuine stayer, but he can run it out, he has already run a bit of time on a pretty slow track.
“He is going to be a front running stayer and he is right in the race this week – we are just hoping the eight doesn’t cut him off at the start…if he can begin well and get himself to the front he might have enough of a lead to hang on.”
No Donuts is the $2.80 favourite to take out the Summer Plate from box seven, with Porrentruy ($3.50) and Ryno’s Raider ($3.80) also right in contention for the $40,000 winner’s cheque.