JASON Thompson heads into Saturday’s Group 2 Cranbourne Cup (520m) with a three-pronged assault on the $47,000-to-the-winner final.
The leading conditioner puts the polish on Sleek Master, Big Flood and Extreme Magic which have drawn boxes one, three and five respectively.
Big Flood is currently the $1.95 favourite with Sportsbet following his 30.08 heat victory and will be aiming to take his career record to 10 wins from 11 starts by winning the feature.
Included in his triumphs thus far are some fast runs at Sale (24.88), Warrnambool (25.13) and Sandown Park (29.18), with the latter being the Listed Australia Day Sprint final on January 25.
Despite showing enormous potential, Thompson is aware that Big Flood will still have to rise to the challenge against the top class sprinters in the country.
“He is very exciting and he hasn’t done much wrong at this stage, but this is a big test for him and he will have to do everything right to be a factor in the race,” Thompson told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He has been a pretty reliable beginner, but being a final you can’t do anything wrong.
“If he begins like he did last week, he will probably lead the race and if he is in front he can run quite a good time – if he can find the top this Saturday I expect him to be very hard to run down.”
Sleek Master is the second elect at $3.50 after his slashing 29.86 qualifying win, but has drawn poorly in box one.
The son of Swift Fancy and Lagoon Holly is renowned for liking outside boxes, however Thompson says he should get room to move in the early stages.
“He takes 20-30m before he musters up, so he is better drawn out wide because it gives him the room to move and then go around dogs, whereas he has never handled box one in the past,” he said.
“He has made seven or eight group finals and I think he has had the red four times.
“The pressure in the previous races where he has had box one – there has been a lot of speed and they have come across him which he doesn’t really appreciate.
“With that being said it is quite a different box one in this race because the dog in box two (Crackerjack Choc) doesn’t have a huge amount of speed and Big Flood runs about three or four off the fence.
“If he does begin like he has at his past three starts I am sure there will be room for him early.”
Also representing Thompson will be Extreme Magic which ran a nice race in his heat when finishing second behind kennelmate Slick Master.
Whilst his chances of saluting have been slightly tarnished by drawing box five, bookmakers still rate him a genuine hope at $6.
“Out of my three he is probably the big improver – he hadn’t raced for a couple of weeks prior to the heats and he really needed the run last week.
“Although he had every chance to run Sleek Master down, he was only beaten a length and a half so hopefully he takes some improvement out of that run.
“He has to overcome the box and I think you have just got to hope he gets a clear run early and through the first corner – if that happens he will certainly be finishing off the race very hard.”
Also in contention is three-time group 1 winner Dundee Osprey ($8) for Geoff Scott-Smith, however he will have to produce his best to offset box four.
One of the biggest threats in the race appears to be Don’t Kid Me which has sensational early speed and could feature in the finish from box seven.
“Don’t Kid Me has plenty of early speed and he will certainly be up vying for the lead,” Thompson said.
“It is a similar scenario to when [Big Flood and Don’t Kid Me] both raced in the Australia Day Sprint – we drew box one and Don’t Kid Me had the six.
“They were vying for the lead at the post and then through the catching pen Big Flood had the advantage of the fence and was able to kick through and lead.
“Ultimately that won him the race, but had he have been outside of him he would have had to spend a lot of petrol trying to get around him.
“Don’t Kid Me has a lot of race experience and that is one thing Big Flood doesn’t have, so he can’t afford to make any mistakes.”
Despite his inexperience, Thompson still rates the son of Banjo Boy and Easy Baby the best chance of his trio.
“If I had to pick my best chance it would be Big Flood, but they are all capable dogs and there is not a lot between them ability-wise.”
The Group 2 Cranbourne Cup is race six this Saturday night and will jump at 7:57pm.
Group 2 Cranbourne Cup – market
1 – Sleek Master $3.50
2 – Crackerjack Choc $26
3 – Big Flood $1.95 with Sportsbet
4 – Dundee Osprey $8
5 – Extreme Magic $6
6 – Archie Fields $21
7 – Don’t Kid Me $11
8 – Mystery Ride $21
9 – Aqua Cheetah $7
10 – Veetee Swift $31