UNDERRATED sprinter Big Ticket will be aiming to score his first victory at Group level when he contests the Group 2 Warragul Cup (460 metres) on Friday night.
Trained at Tooradin by Steve Clarke, the son of Fabregas and Bella Portrait comes into the feature having contested three Group finals throughout his career, his closest finish being a third placing in last year’s Horsham Cup.
Clarke is hopeful that his luckless run will end this week, with Big Ticket, $9 with Bet365, likely to improve off his slick 25.83 heat success over the weekend.
“He went fantastic in his heat,” Clarke said.
“He came into the series probably one run underdone, so he did a great job to go as well as he did.”
Big Ticket was having just his second start in two months in his qualifier, with bizarre toe injuries keeping him on the sidelines since the beginning of November.
“He dislocated a toe in the catching pen at Geelong after he won there late last year so he had some time off before heading to Tasmania for a crack at the Hobart Thousand.
“He trialled really well, but unfortunately he got bitten on the toe by a scorpion two days before the heats which poisoned his foot – it blew up like a balloon – so he had to come home and undergo a series of vet checks to get him right.
“It was disappointing as I gave him a really good chance in the Hobart Thousand series – he trialled 25.90 and my expectation was that he would improve three or four lengths going into the heats.”
Big Ticket has drawn favourably in box three for the $47,000-to-the-winner feature on Friday, an alley from which Clarke is hopeful he will be able to put himself in the race.
“He has drawn poorly in nearly every Group race he has been in and the one where he did draw well was in the Hobart Thousand final – but he had Dyna Villa drawn in the two and he was a mad railer.
“I don’t mind box three for him this week, hopefully he will be up there vying for the lead and if he is he definitely won’t shirk the task – he will push through and give it his all.
“He is an exceptional dog – he is very fast and he is a hard chaser – he virtually does everything right.”
Although it is an extremely open event, Clarke says the Keith Hellmuth-trained Fuellish, $3.50, holds the key to the race off box one.
“It was an exceptional run last week,” he said.
“He is a young pup, he has no fear and he is a very fast dog.
“If he begins we will be in trouble but if he misses it and gets tangled up with Pop The Cork (box two), $3.50, then we might be able to get to the rail and I think we can win from there.”
Clarke says it would be a deserved success if Big Ticket can take out the Warragul Cup, with the 38 kilogram powerhouse having been a model of consistency throughout his career, winning 19 races from just 36 starts.
“He has served his apprenticeship in all these Group finals and he shouldn’t leave the racetrack behind him having not won a Group race – that’s for sure.”
The Group 2 Warragul Cup is race eight this Friday night and is set to jump at 9:28pm AEDT.
Check out Big Ticket (5) winning his heat of the Warragul Cup.