DANIEL Flanagan is confident his emerging stayer Explosive Range will improve heading into the Group 3 Gold Cup (720m) at Wentworth Park on Saturday night following his fourth placing in the heat of the $25,000 race last weekend.
Stepping up to the half-mile for the first time, Explosive Range ($21 with Sportsbet.com.au) began well from the inside and stalked Lioness Lulu in second spot for the majority of the race, tiring in the final stages to finish four and three quarter lengths off the winner in 42.24.
Flanagan says he was pleased with the performance.
“I was really happy with his run,” Flanagan told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He tired late but I think it had a lot to do with the fact that he hadn’t raced for about three weeks so he was very keen to go.
“With the dog running fast times up front I think he chased his bum off.
“He has got plenty of kms under his belt so he is fit enough, but he probably needed that run.
“Hopefully now he will be a bit more settled before the race – we are trying to work a few things out so he can store a bit more energy.
“If we can get him to settle he should improve at least two or three tenths this week.
“He has pulled up super. Jason Mackay checks my dogs and he said that he has never seen him so good so its all systems go.”
A winner of 11 of his 37 career starts, the son of Fabregas and Sheza Surfy has excelled since stepping up from the sprint trips, winning four of his five starts over the middle distances at Gosford and Richmond.
While many people still query his ability to run out the distance, Flanagan believes his underrated charge will be able to handle the staying trip.
“A lot of people don’t realise how big of a motor this dog has got.
“He has been trialling very well over the 565m at Maitland and I have been slipping him post to post at Maitland which is about 670m and his run home times have been really good.”
Flanagan says Group 1 Association Cup winner Lioness Lulu ($2 with Crownbet.com.au), which is unbeaten in three starts at Wentworth Park, is the dog to beat off box eight.
“She has taken a real liking to Wenty and she is going to be very hard to beat,” he said.
“If she does everything right like last week then she will probably be the winner, but it is greyhound racing and there will be eight greyhounds all chasing the one thing so you just have to cross your fingers.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if my dog comes out and runs 42.20 and if he does he might be good enough to score, but he has just got to begin and get into a good spot early.
“Being a stayers race there is not a huge amount of speed in it.
“[Explosive Range] can run off quick early sections, but he can also come out really bad – the one thing I do know is no matter what he will always give 100 per cent.
“He began pretty good last week so hopefully he can come out like that again – if he does he should be right in it as I don’t think he will tire like he did in his heat.”
The Group 3 Wentworth Park Gold Cup is race six on Saturday night and is set to jump at 9:20pm.