STAR New South Wales chaser El Magnifico will step out on the track for his first race in close to two months when he contests a heat of the Group 2 Bob Payne Spring Sprint (520m) at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Trained by Bruce and Julie Fletcher, El Magnifico has not been seen since finishing fifth in a FFA event at headquarters on July 16, with Bruce explaining that a series of niggling injuries are what kept the boom youngster on the sidelines.
“We gave him a trial at Dapto after his last start and he only went 29.90,” Fletcher told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He should go a lot quicker than that so we had him checked and they found a couple of little things although they shouldn’t have affected him that much.
“We fixed them up and took him to Wentworth Park and he only went 30.00 – after that we got him checked again and we found out that he actually had hurt his fibula.
“It’s an injury which puts you out for about a month but I gave him a little bit extra just to make sure.”
The son of El Grand Senor and Little Grey will head into Saturday night’s event with just one trial under his belt since resuming, clocking good time over the sprint trip at Bulli last week.
“He is coming back well… he trialled over 400m last Tuesday at Bulli and he went 22.59 on what they said was a slow track,” he said.
“They assessed the track as being four tenths slow and although I don’t think it was that slow, even if it was only two tenths off it makes it a good run.
“I am happy with how he has come back and as long as everything goes well between now and Saturday we are in with a good chance.”
Despite having only had one run behind the lure, Fletcher is optimistic his black powerhouse, who holds a flying personal best of 29.59 at Wentworth Park, will put in a solid performance.
“He is naturally very strong so he should be ok and I am hoping being fresh that he comes out a bit better,” he said.
“If he were another dog without his strength then he probably would have needed more work than that, but he had been running around in the paddock for 10 days prior and he is the type of dog who works himself hard – he only knows two speeds and they are walking and flat out.”
Fletcher’s biggest concern on Saturday night is the box draw, with El Magnifico coming up with box six against a quality field including defending champ Brad Hill Billy (box two), Buck Forty (box three) and Mister Cowora (box four).
“The break certainly hasn’t done him any harm but the box draw hasn’t helped us on Saturday night because he is a desperate railer and he is in the six, but if he can come out cleanly he will give it a bit of a shake,” he said.
“I am a bit concerned about the dog in the five (Fever Pitch) – he moves a little bit right when he jumps so we will have to come out behind him or in front of him.
“If he does that he is a reasonable chance.”
With four heats set to be run on Saturday night, the top two will progress through to the final, set to be run next week, worth $40,000 to the winner.
All going well over the next few weeks, Fletcher has big plans for El Magnifico, already a two-time group finalist and a winner of 10 of his 21 starts to date.
“The plan is to head down to Victoria later in the year – it is a dream for everyone in greyhound racing to win a Melbourne Cup and I would love to see him in the final.
“I think he is capable of being in the mix ability-wise in a race such as the Melbourne Cup, so it is something we are thinking about.”
Group 2 Bob Payne Sprint Sprint – all-in market
Brad Hill Billy – $7.50
Maja Mahi Mahi – $7.50
Buck Forty – $8.50
Aqua Cheetah – $8.50
Magic Spring – $8.50
Ritza Lenny – $10
El Magnifico – $12 with Bet365
Too Many Daddys – $15
One Hill – $16
Compare – $17
One Samuel – $17
Paua To Avoid – $17
Berzerk – $26
Lochinvar Klein – $26
Amy Lyndan – $26
Lochinvar Dash – $26
Dandy Jack – $34
Runway Idole – $34
Duck’s Luck – $41
Lagoon Jazzy – $41
Vintage Rox – $41
Lochinvar Holly – $51
Bulkender – $51
Fever Pitch – $51
Mystic Quality – $67
Mister Cowora – $81
Targeryen – $101
Very Choosy – $126
Unique Replica – $126
Rumbling Rascal – $126
Carbon Racer – $126
El Chad – $126
Fawn Express – $126
Rob Stark – $151
Talking Point – $201
Dawn Mini – $201
Skate Thin Ice – $201
Irinka Alf – $201
Another Kainane – $301