Last year’s Australian Trainer of the Year, Jason Thompson, is chasing his third Group 2 Wangaratta Cup (474m) in four years on Friday night.
The Pearcedale-based training genius, who won with Oxley Tiger (2005) and See You Later (2006), has El Galo going for glory in the $25,000-to-the-winner final.
Runner-up in this year’s Group 1 Australian Cup, El Galo is attempting to snare his fourth country cup, having already taken out this year’s Group 2 Bendigo Cup, Group 2 Warrnambool Cup and Group 3 Bulli Gold Cup.
In the cup preliminaries last Monday night, El Galo clocked a slick 26.68sec – the second-fastest time of five heats.
Recent Group 1 Maturity Classic winner Paddy’s Flame set the standard with a scintillating 26.53sec – just under two lengths off the 26.42sec track record, set by Amaze Mint on March 27, 2004.
Prepared by “Moe maestro” Peter Giles, Paddy’s Flame is out to shatter his ‘El Galo jinx’. He succumbed to his nemesis in the Bendigo Cup (3rd) and Warrnambool Cup (8th).
Giles has a two-pronged attack as Winoki posted a 26.75sec heat win.
A seven-time Group race finalist, Winoki was runner-up in this year’s Group 1 Golden Easter Egg.
Giles is hoping to secure his second Wangaratta Cup, having saluted with Regal Bart (2003).
Other heat winners were Cyclone Ned (26.93sec) and Brandeen Lilli (27.02sec).
Lara trainer Michelle Mallia-Magri also has a dual attack courtesy of Nikayla Storm and Sisco King.
The Cup night will feature giveaways including $1000 cash plus a boy’s and girl’s mountain bike. The 12-event fixture kicks off at 7.10pm.