Anthony Bullock’s Gotta Be You wins 2017 M.A Morgan St Leger

Gotta Be You strikes a pose after winning the 2017 M.A Morgan St Leger. PIC: TAS Racing.

GOTTA Be You (Fabregas x Hard As Nails Apr ’15) justified his favouritism on Thursday night at Hobart when defeating a stellar field to take out the M.A. Morgan St Leger final over 461m.

Trained at Exeter by Anthony Bullock, the black dog pinged the lids off box five, equalling the first section record held by El Grand Amigo (El Grand Senor x Dennes Point Feb ’15) when posting a brilliant 4.96 first split.

Once Gotta Be You led it was a case of times and margins, stretching out to defeat Wynburn Boxer (Destini Fireball x Miss Hetti Dec ’15) by one and three quarter lengths in a phenomenal 25.84.

It was his second start back in Tassie after a recent stint in Victoria with Brett Bravo, having finished second in his heat the week prior.

Heading into Thursday’s lucrative $7,320 race, Bullock said he was expecting a big performance from the 31-kilogram chaser.

“The conditions didn’t help him in his heat – it was blowing a gale and I knew he’d improve off that run,” Bullock told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“I thought he was a big chance in the final even though he had box five – there wasn’t a great deal of speed in the race except for him so I thought he’d lead easily.

“His best asset is his early speed – luckily he showed his pace and once he got out in front he went very well.”

Gotta Be You took his record to 16 wins, five seconds and seven thirds from 35 starts, his prize money now closing in on $30,000.

Although he failed to showcase his best in Victoria against some top chasers including Big Flood, Burn Like Fire and Zara’s Entity, Bullock said the interstate trip helped him to mature.

“The time away from Tasmania did him the world of good – he seems to have come back in great order.

“Over here not many dogs can match it with him early, but he ran into some nice dogs in Victoria and they could go with him so he had to learn how to race.

“He finished second to Big Flood at Ballarat and ran 25.45 so he showed he is good enough to be racing there.”

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Bullock said Gotta Be You will be heading back to Victoria in the future, but will likely stay in Tassie until after the Group 1 Hobart Thousand in December.

“He should race well in the Hobart Thousand – the others have got to come here and take him on at his home track so he will have an advantage.

“He has had 11 starts there for six wins now – if he can keep jumping like he did on Thursday and run 25.80 that is good enough to go close to winning.

“He is a very nice dog. As he gets older he seems to be getting stronger and he seems to like the one turn tracks – he should hold his own when he goes back to Victoria.”

Thursday’s final was the second fastest M.A Morgan St Leger to be run, with former group 1 star Buckle Up Wes (Collision x Everlong Bale Jun ’11) holding the race record 25.78 which was set in 2013.

The race is named in honour of Michael Arthur Morgan who shaped the face of racing in Tasmania. Morgan assisted Jack Nelson in the establishment of the White City Speed Coursing Track in 1932 and initiated the Hobart Speed Coursing Club in 1933.

He lobbied Premier A.G Ogilvie to alter the betting act to allow wagering on greyhound racing and he also reached an agreement with the Tasmanian Cricket Association to lease their grounds for a track.

Morgan, who became Manager and Handicapper at the track, oversaw the laying of the track, the lighting, the judges box an all other issues necessary for the running of racing.

Morgan left the helm in 1967 due to ill health.

The other feature race on Thursday night was the Big Moose Laurels series which went to up and coming star Wynburn Cutie (Destini Fireball x Miss Hetti Dec ’15).

The white and fawn bitch missed the kick and found trouble from box three before storming home in the straight to record a two and one quarter length success in 25.99.

Wynburn Cutie has now won 10 of her 13 starts for owner-trainer Ben Englund.

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