ANTHONY Azzopardi claimed his third Paws of Thunder (520m) title when Raw Ability (Barcia Bale x Bugatti Flyer Mar ’15) scored a thrilling win in the Group 1 feature at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Drawn in box four, Raw Ability began well, matching motors early with Topgun heroine Up Hill Jill (Premier Fantasy x Where’s Demonica Feb ’15) which was drawn beside him in the five.
Azzopardi admitted to having flashbacks to the 2017 Melbourne Cup where Raw Ability and Up Hill Jill vied for the lead from identical boxes before tangling around the first turn – putting both chasers out of play.
Luckily, Raw Ability was able to push up on his rivals inside on Saturday night and from there it was game, set, match as he charged to the line to defeat the fast-finishing Slick (Dyna Lachlan x Pearl Za Zinger Apr ’15) by one and a half lengths in 29.86.
Up Hill Jill was far from disgraced when running third, just under three lengths off the winner.
“I was a bit worried when he got underneath her,” Azzopardi conceded.
“I just kept thinking of the Melbourne Cup, but he got underneath her enough [on Saturday night] to not cause any dramas and when he found the front he was always going to be hard to beat.
“The key was for him to come out tonight – he did that and he got the result.”
It was the second group 1 win of Raw Ability’s career, having also won the Adelaide Cup last October – incidentally that win was also from box four.
He has now faced the started 34 times for 17 wins, two seconds and four thirds and has earned just under $225,000 for Azzopardi who also owns the black chaser with his partner Kylee Osborne.
It was the third Paws of Thunder triumph for Azzopardi, who scored a boilover in 2016 with the speedy Asa Flying Spur (Kinloch Brae x Cawbourne Shine Jan ’14) as well as an emotional win in the 2011 edition with Fancy Will (Where’s Pedro x Sweet Fancy Jan ’09).
A former Sydney-sider, Azzopardi made the move to Victoria two years ago and has since stamped himself as one of Australia’s top trainers.
Azzopardi said his kennel star will now have a short freshen up ahead of the upcoming Australian Cup Carnival at The Meadows which kicks off on February 17 with the invitation-only Group 1 Temlee (525m), worth $100,000 to the winner.
“I’ll give him a bit of a break now.
“It’s been a hard journey with the hot weather and all that, so he’ll have a few weeks off now and get ready for the Australian Cup.
“It’s been a hell of a journey the last two weeks, up and down, but geez it’s been worth it.”
2018 Group 1 Paws of Thunder results
1st – Raw Ability (4) – Anthony Azzopardi – $3
2nd – Slick (2) – John McCarthy – $3.40
3rd – Up Hill Jill (5) – David Geall – $2.90
4th – Ritza Lenny (3) – Mark Gatt – $10
5th – Dual Keroma (1) – Susan Pitstock – $18
6th – Bogan Doonie (6) – Neil Staines – $31
7th – It’s A Party (8) – Mark Gatt – $7
8th – Trip To Eden (7) – Robert Smith – $41
Margins: 1.5 x 1.25
1st section: 5.41 (5)
2nd section: 18.06 (4)
Run home: 11.80 (4)