DESPITE being the rank outsider of the field, Queensland trainer Richard Nelson has admitted to feeling the pressure ahead of this Friday’s Group 1 Brisbane Cup (520m) at Albion Park with the ultra-consistent Not Like Tommy.
Rated a $34 shot with Crownbet, Not Like Tommy is normally trained by Robert Dempsey, however, with Dempsey and his wife Cheryl departing for a long-overdue holiday last weekend, the responsibility of preparing Not Like Tommy for Friday’s $75,000-to-the-winner event has been left in the hands of Nelson.
“I have known Bobby for 20 years – he was a good mate of my father before he died – and he is a great bloke,” Nelson told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“In addition to training dogs, Bob runs a boarding kennel and because they are coming into peak season, it was now or never for their holiday.
“Cheryl put her foot down and said they were going because it was already booked, so they hooked on the caravan and took off.
“Unfortunately, they are about six hours up the coast so it’s too far away to be at the track on Friday night, but I am sure Bob will be watching the race somewhere – he wouldn’t miss it for the world.
“There is a bit of extra pressure heading into the race because I am not her regular trainer, and there is part of me that wishes I had her from day one, but it is still a great feeling because Bobby is a good mate of mine.”
Not Like Tommy, a daughter of Spring Gun and Mini Pod, is in fantastic form heading into the final, having run a fast-finishing second in her heat last week behind Zabdon Ferrari.
Prior to that the red fawn bitch had run fifth in the Group 3 Ipswich Cup, the only time in her last 10 starts where she has missed a top three finish.
A winner of 17 from 72 overall, the versatile chaser will start from box eight in the decider and, although Nelson concedes it is a tough field, he says she is not without a chance of causing an upset.
“We are not kidding ourselves, we know she is the long shot of the field, but she is a serious bitch – she has already made the final of the Darwin Cup, the Ipswich Cup and now the Brisbane Cup and only good dogs can do that.
“I am not too concerned about box eight to be honest. She is on the outside of Outside Pass and she is pretty quick early and should carve across which should give her a nice run into the race.
“We don’t need to lead to win, we just need to get on the rails and follow them through early and be close enough.
“I can actually see her lobbing in about fourth spot early and they would want to be good dogs to hold her out from there.”
Nelson says Not Like Tommy has had an ideal preparation leading into the final, enjoying a relaxed week in her new surroundings.
“She has been here before and so she has settled in well and she is feeling well.
“Every other clown in the kennel is barking and carrying on, but she is very laid back – you can let every dog in the kennel out and she won’t even get off her bed.
“When you get a good dog in your kennel, you can tell them apart.
“She has just had a quiet week on the walking machine and I have taken her on a couple of walks out in the paddock – just whatever she wants to do really.”
Despite Not Like Tommy returning to Dempsey’s kennel within the next week, Nelson says it is an enormous thrill just to be a part of the Brisbane Cup experience.
“I have been walking dogs and helping my father out since I was three years old, so to be leading out a group 1 finalist this week is an unbelievable feeling – it’s what you train for.
“Bobby and Cheryl have been in dogs a long time and for me just to lead this dog out for them is a privilege.
“He is one of my best mates so it would be great to see him win.”
Group 1 Brisbane Cup – market
Crazy Vixon $34
Zabdon Ferrari $4.80
Thirty Talks $4
Whata Nice Size $12
Blazin’ Bomber $4.60
Lady Abigail $21
Outside Pass $2.60
Not Like Tommy $34 with Crownbet
1st Res – Lauryn’s Best
2nd Res – El Chad