Lill declares More Sauce on target for Traralgon Cup mission

More Sauce and Michelle Lill after
Michelle Lill with More Sauce after he broke the Goulburn track record last year. Picture: Supplied.

A COVID-enforced change to the 2022 Traralgon Cup distance has prompted New South Wales trainer Michelle Lill to take aim at the Group Two Victorian feature with kennel star More Sauce.

The event, which carries $47,000 to the winner, is traditionally run over 450m but will revert to 395m for this year only.

The adjustment was necessary after the manufacture and installation of new state-of-the-art drop boxes at the 350m and 450m starts was delayed.

The boxes, which operate via a pneumatic arm, are the final stage of a track redevelopment.

Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club will host its first meeting on the new j-curve track this Saturday, in preparation for its Cup heats six days later on January 21.

“Although More Sauce has proven himself up to 500m, we know he’s most effective around the 400m distance – you only have to look at his record at Maitland over that trip – which makes the Cup an ideal target,” Lill said.

“He’s on his way back after an injury and given his fitness and where he’s at in his preparation, we think it’s the right race to look at.”

Lill will embark on her first trip south with the October 2018 son of Keybow who pleased connections with a first-up win over 324m at Richmond last Saturday.

“He injured a pin muscle in his shoulder, it can be quite serious. He got squeezed up when another dog ran out in the Fireball Final at Goulburn on October 24 which put him out of action for a good two and a half months.

“But he ran best of the day at Richmond and seems to have pulled up great, so we’ve got our fingers crossed he’s back on track.

“I’ll travel to Victoria on Wednesday and he’ll trial at Traralgon on Thursday morning. All going well he’ll then head into the Cup heats, and hopefully qualify for the final on Australia Day.”

More Sauce boasts an impressive career record of 20 wins and nine seconds from 32 outings for earnings of $85,209.

Lill prepared her first ever treble at the Richmond meeting, also saluting with Olsen Street and Shaun Crouch.

In fact, the in-form trainer has won with five of her past six starters, the only blemish coming in the Goulburn race when More Sauce suffered interference before finishing fourth.

“It was a good day,” she acknowledged, reflecting on the Richmond successes.

“The races turned around really quickly and we had three winners in the space of 32 minutes. Someone suggested it is the fastest treble in history.

“We’ve always been a small training operation but we built a new kennel block for 12 dogs and it’s now full.

“We mainly train our own dogs but we’ve got a few for others too; we don’t breed a lot, perhaps one litter every year or so, but we’ve put a bit into it recently and its nice to be getting the rewards.”

More Sauce’s 2021 Grafton Cup victory in July, with a purse of $20,000 to the winner, rates as Lill’s most notable win to date but she hopes the kennel’s outstanding recent form can carry on into the year ahead.

She is looking forward to the racetrack return of Casual Glance, a litter mate to More Sauce, who has not appeared since November 20 but is a winner at 26 of his 48 starts.

“He’s been crook with a kidney infection and hurt himself in a trial at Maitland last week,” Lill said.

“He should be fine, he’s just got a small tear to a back muscle. It’s not as serious as it could be but I’m not sure whether he’ll make it to the Bathurst Cup which was going to be his target,” Lill said.

“We’re hoping to be able to run in a few of the country cups this year and of course there’s the Million Dollar Chase. It would be amazing to have a go at that,” she said.

More Sauce and Casual Glance are great grandsons of Special Sauce, a bitch who began Lill’s canine condiment obsession and the first greyhound she owned and raced in partnership with her husband Michael.

“I bought her from my dad for $500 and she went on to win two races at Wentworth Park and a heap at Maitland. She was by Tambray Gravy which is how the name came about.

“We bred from her and we’ve kept the bloodline going, with the dogs we retain for ourselves all having Sauce in their name,” Lill said.

Lill won 14 races with Hot Sauce (by Elite Blue Size), a littermate to Ness Quick, herself a 10-time winner and the dam of More Sauce.

Australian online bookmakers are yet to release odds for the Traralgon Cup, with these likely to come out in the week leading up to the heats.

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