Azzopardi on the road to National Derby success

ASTUTE Sydney trainer Anthony Azzopardi will head to Wentworth Park tomorrow night with Topper Road, his sole representative in the Group One National Derby semi-finals.

After returning to the metropolitan circuit for the first time this year in last Saturday night’s heats, Topper Road stepped beautifully from box six and led throughout in a smart of 30.04. The son of Oaks Road and Uno Emi recorded sizzling sectionals of 5.34 and 13.79, scoring by an impressive margin of four and a half lengths over second placegetter Nightwatchman.

Despite coming up with an awkward middle-alley draw tomorrow night, Azzopardi is still hopeful of his chaser’s chances.

“I think he’s half a chance tomorrow night. He’s not real strong, but if he can get out in front and do his own thing, I think he’s a chance to make it through to the final,”he said.

Statistics show that this 30kg lightweight greyhound will be competitive again tomorrow night, having recorded three wins and two minor placings from just five starts at Wentworth Park.

Topper Road has only had one previous start from box five, where he was successful in a 5th grade event at headquarters by twelve-and-three-quarter lengths in a career-best time of 29.97.

Azzopardi believes the early speed his greyhound possess will again play a vital role in the result tomorrow night, with the first and second placegetter from each semi-final moving through to next week’s decider and fastest two third placings making up the remainder of the field.

“He’s got really good early speed and hopefully he can get up the front and there’s some trouble behind him.”

“You need to be quick early in these types of races and that will definitely help him if he can begin.”

Topper Road began his career in style at Dapto last year over the 520m distance, saluting by nine and a quarter lengths in a fast time of 30.08. The Frances Harris-owned chaser has since gone on to record some speedy personal bests at Maitland over the 450m (25.30), Bulli over 472m (26.35) and also lowered his best time at Dapto to 30.02.

“I’d love to have a kennel full of dogs like him, because he always tries hard and chases hard,” Azzopardi said.

“I’ll be very happy if he just makes it through to the final.”

Topper Road is currently a $4.50 chance to win his semi-final on Saturday night and is $13 to win the entire series with Sportsbet which are offering up to $501 in bonus bets to place on the National Derby series.

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