ANTHONY Azzopardi looks set to make a huge impact throughout the 2016 Group 2 Warrnambool Cup (450m) series, with seven runners engaged across the eight heats on Wednesday night.
Among his chances is boom pup Ultimate Magic which is the $8 favourite in Bet365’s all-in market to take out the final on May 4. The son of Magic Sprite and prolific producer Daydream has won 10 of his 13 starts to date including his last seven in succession, with Azzopardi hopeful he can add to that tally on debut at the track this week when he exits box two in heat three.
“He is a very exciting young dog and the sky is his limit,” Azzopardi told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He is well boxed and I expect him to do well. The thing with him is most of his wins have been first up on a track so I haven’t trialled him at the track.
“I have put it up him a little bit but he has come through it very strong and I am very happy with him.”
Incredibly, Azzopardi trains four of the top five in the all-in market, with the next best being Marbo’s Magic at $8.50. The black dog is a recent addition to Azzopardi’s kennel, having won the Group 2 Maitland Cup under the guidance of his owner and former trainer, Paul Braddon.
The two-year-old chaser will have to contend with box eight against a high quality field including Fuelish (box two), Dalgetty (box four) and Big Ticket (box five), however his new mentor is delighted with him going into the race.
“I am very privileged to have been asked to train him,” Azzopardi said.
“He trialled really good at the track last week and he has settled in nicely at home.
“Box eight is probably not the best for him because he will want to head to the fence, but if he doesn’t cause himself too much grief he only has to be running up to his trial and I think he will win.
“He has got untapped ability, what he trialled last week was amazing.
“I have taken a few nice dogs around [Warrnambool], but based on what he trialled he is going to be something special.
“He is meeting the best now which might bring him back a bit but if he can show the pace we know he has then he will definitely be able to match them.
“He is the perfect dog – he is so calm and he is such a loveable dog – he is a dog you can really get attached to because he has such a great nature.”
Dalgetty is the third elect with bookmakers, with Bet365 installing the Group 1 Temlee winner as a $9 shot to take out the decider for leading trainer Jason Thompson.
The market then sees two Azzopardi-prepared sprinters sharing the $10 quote, Major Jackpot and Zambora Brockie.
The former started the favourite in the 2016 Group 2 Launching Pad at Sandown Park, finishing second in the final behind Buck Forty after recording a blistering 29.12 in his heat the week prior.
The son of Smooth Fancy and Teddy’s Jackpot comes into the Warrnambool Cup series as a last start 25.23 winner at Ballarat and is set to jump from box seven in the fourth heat.
“He has had his fair share of problems, but on his night he can run you just about anything,” he said.
“I think he is well boxed out wide, although he will want to come down towards the fence in the early stages.
“He likes to drift off the corner turning for home which is probably the main concern with him.”
Zambora Brockie, the Group 1 Vic Peters winner last year, has drawn poorly in box five in the final qualifier, however Azzopardi is hopeful his class will get him over the line in first spot.
The son of Nitro Burst and Flying Liddy is second up from a spell after injuring a hamstring at Wentworth Park in March.
“His box is a bit of a worry but he is the type of dog which can win from anywhere,” he said.
“If he gets a clear run he is by far the fastest dog I have got in my kennel.
“If he can get a bit of luck and find himself in a nice position I am confident he can go all the way.
“We have been blessed with a lot of good dogs, but speed wise this bloke is unbelievable. He can break records like its nothing – he just does it.
“He is freakishly fast and although he has had his fair share of bad luck in races he seems to be able to be able to win from spots other dogs can’t.”
Azzopardi also has a couple of roughies in the series, with Mincin’ Machine and Asa Hard Knox both sitting on $34 to win the final.
Mincin’ Machine has had one start since joining Azzopardi’s Melbourne kennel, recording a solid 25.21 Ballarat win, however he has not been helped by drawing box five in the sixth heat against some quality chasers such as Alpha Demeter (box two), To The Galo’s (box seven) and Gotta Get Back (box eight).
“He went good at his first start for us,” Azzopardi said.
“We have had a bit of trouble with his stopper tendon, but hopefully we are on top of that.
“He is going well, but box five is probably a bit of a let down.
“In saying that he is a very good chaser so I expect him to keep coming, he just needs a bit of luck in running.”
As for Asa Hard Knox, Azzopardi says he is a chance if he can step well from box six in heat seven.
“He is a very hit and miss greyhound. He is very fast and he is a great chaser, but his box manners let him down quite a bit.
“He seems to hesitate the start a bit – sometimes he comes out but most times he doesn’t.
“If he nails the start he can run some time so he is a rough chance throughout the series.”
Rounding out Team Azzopardi’s chances in the series is Asa Killa Queen, a finalist in this year’s Group 1 Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park. Although the distance and box draw work in his favour on Wednesday night, the trainer says he is facing an uphill battle against some stars of the sport.
“He is going really well at the moment and he is a very consistent chaser.
“450m is more of his caper and he has got the right box, but he has happened to draw the toughest heat against the track record holder (Aston Bolero) in box three and Kayda Shae in the two.
“He has got to do everything right but he gets his chance off the one box that’s for sure.”
The first heat of the Group 2 Warrnambool Cup is race one on Wednesday night and is set to jump at 6:45pm AEST.
The winners of each heat will progress through to the $47-to-the-winner final on May 4.
Group 2 Warrnambool Cup – all in market
Ultimate Magic – $8
Marbo’s Magic – $8
Dalgetty – $9
Major Jackpot – $10
Zambora Brockie – $10
Shared Equity – $15
Unlawful Entry – $17
Shared Bonus – $21
Aston Bolero – $21
Kayda Shae – $21 with Bet365.com.au
Jack Walker – $26
To The Galo’s – $26
Gotta Get Back – $26
Bearville Azza – $26
Lunar Exlipse – $26
Mincin’ Machine – $34
American Warrior – $34
Alpha Demeter – $34
Diego Bale – $34
Big Ticket – $34
Proven Kodiak – $34
Asa Hard Knox – $34
Paddy’s Magic – $34
Invictus Rapid – $34
Ando’s Mac – $41
Midnight Ride – $41
Barking Bad – $51
Asa Killa Queen – $51
Demon Bale – $51
American Monster – $51
Dawkins Bale – $51
Eren Bale – $67
Fantastic Roxy – $67
Marley Bale – $67
Cheese Ya Later – $67
Alpha Hermes – $67
Zipping Arnold – $67
Ronray Spirit – $67
Mystery Ride – $101
Felton Bale – $101
Soda Man – $101
Folio Bale – $101
Liam – $101
Mepunga Taylor – $151
Jonny Black Fox – $151
Ivy Bale – $151
Cette Away – $151
Fuelish – $151
Duomo Bale – $151
Zigstar – $151
Stompin’ – $201
Darpa Bale – $201
Both Sides Now – $201
Igor Karkaroff – $251
Fearless John – $251
Fleetwood Zac – $251
Jalapeno Flash – $251
Black Illusion – $251
Allen Kempo – $251
Magic Success – $501
Destini Supreme – $501
Mepunga Midget – $501
Glass Roof – $501
Crackerjack Max – $501
Howies Flyer – $501
Lynlea Jake – $501
Allen Crown – $501
Edge Of Eden – $501
To The Chopper – $1501