TONY Apap says his exciting stayer Jalapeno is firing on all cylinders ahead of his biggest test to date in Thursday night’s Group 1 Gold Cup (710m) at Albion Park.
The son of Kiowa Mon Manny and Brook Lee was having his first crack at the arduous staying trip last week and ran a top race behind champion bitch Fanta Bale, beaten four-and-one-quarter lengths in a flying 41.66.
Apap says he was pleased with the run, but always knew Jalapeno, a $21 chance with Bet365 to win the decider, would relish a rise in trip.
“He has always shown me that he wanted more ground since winning his maiden at Ipswich and he handled the rise in trip when we gave him three 600s prior to this series,” Apap told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I wasn’t too worried about him running out the 700, although we probably threw him in the deep end a bit against some seasoned stayers – but he ran a great race in his heat and was able to break the 42-second mark.
“He only got beaten just over four lengths by Fanta Bale who is a four-time group 1 winner and he was a fifth grader having his first go over the distance – it was a big effort.”
A winner of three from 11 with six minor placings, Jalapeno will jump from box two in the $75,000-to-the-winner feature this week.
The black dog is the most inexperienced runner in the race, with his rivals having won a combined total of 132 races for almost $1.5 million in prize money earnings.
Whilst Apap is aware his charge faces a tough task, the leading conditioner says Jalapeno is feeling fantastic ahead of the challenge.
“He is coming up against some great dogs like Fanta Bale, Cyndie’s Magic and Dundee Calypso – even Teddy Monelli who I am looking after for Dave Hobby is going to be a big chance – I would be happy if the young fella could run a place.
“I am happy with box two, he is going to need some luck in running, but he is feeling good and I expect him to run well.
“He has pulled up great – normally after their first 700 they are a bit flat or drink a bit of water but he wasn’t even that puffed after the race and the next morning he was jumping up and carrying on like a pup.
“I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Meanwhile, also set to be run this Thursday is the Listed Flying Amy Classic (520m). The favourite for the $25,000 series is promising newcomer Jackson Benz which recorded an airborne 29.72 when winning his heat last week.
The Gary Pettersen-trained sprinter will meet a quality line-up including Shoes To Fill (box one) and Opal Nera (box four), but bookmakers expect him to get the job done, sending him out as a $2 elect from box two.