SNUG and Scipio Africanus will be the sentimental favourites to win Saturday night’s Group 2 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden (520m) at Ipswich, with both greyhounds owned by respected conditioner Barry Dull.
Dull handed over the training reins of Scipio Africanus to leading mentor Darren Russell at the beginning of the year due to poor health concerns, but made the decision to keep training a smaller team, including Snug.
Both youngsters, by Fabregas out of Befitting, have raced well throughout the Vince Curry series, with Snug breaking through for a terrific 30.44 semi-final victory last weekend at her fourth start.
Meanwhile, Scipio Africanus qualified for the $40,000 feature courtesy of two second placings in his heat and semi-final respectively.
Dull said he is thrilled to be in the showpiece and is proud of each pup for making the final.
“I am very happy with them,” Dull told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I have health issues, so I had reduce my team and I made the decision to give a couple of the big dogs to Darren Russell to train for me.
“They have both shown ability so I had them down at Lismore for the $20k maiden down there last December and one from the litter made the final, but they were all only babies and have matured since then.
“I brought them home and saved them for the Vince Curry series so it is very exciting to have two in the final – it has always been looked at as a tough series and it has a lot of respect right throughout Australia because the quality of animals which have won it has been outstanding.”
The box draw indicates that Dull’s best chance of saluting will be 27-kilogram speedster Snug, but the heat times suggest there is not much between the pair.
“There isn’t much between them – Snug is probably a bit quicker early than Scipio Africanus – she is a better box dog – but he will still go ok this week – he went well last week,” Dull said.
“The track was very fast last week, so the 30.44 [run by Snug] might have been a little misleading – but she is a very good bitch and she is certainly going to improve as she gets older.
“The box draw isn’t as bad as it might first appear because Tony Brett’s dog [Opal Nera] has shown a tendency to move left out of the boxes – so there is a chance that it might give my little girl a clear run in the early stages which is what you need to be able to win these sorts of races.”
Dull, who set off for a cruise vacation on Friday, said it would be an enormous thrill to finally take out the feature this weekend before he hangs up the collar and lead.
“I possibly will give the other dogs I have got at home to another trainer once this big race is over – it just depends on whether I can continue to handle them,” he said.
“I am terminally ill – so at this point it would mean so much to me to win it. I have been trying to do it for 30 years. I ran a placing behind Token Prince and second behind Just The Best when they both won it – it is the one race I would love to win.
“To win on Saturday would be fantastic.”
The Group 2 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden is race eight on the card at Ipswich this Saturday and is set to jump at 8:08pm.
Group 2 Vince Curry Memorial – market
1 – Fire To Rain $7
2 – Fabrique $34
3 – Opal Nera $3.30
4 – Snug $8.50 with Crownbet
5 – Lockety Brin $15
6 – Scipio Africanus $23
7 – Roll So Deep $11
8 – Rather Dapper $1.80
9 – Jalapeno $23
10 – Codrington Kid $51