BOOM youngster Pop The Cork looms as the dog to beat in Thursday night’s Listed Flying Amy Classic at Albion Park after a near record 29.59 win in his heat last week.
Trained by Peter Ruetschi, Pop The Cork, $1.65 with Bet365, has won seven of his 10 starts, five of those victories being at Albion Park in sub 30 time – a feat which has him affirmed as one of the hottest prospects in training.
Ruetschi, who is going for back to back wins in the Flying Amy, was full of praise for the son of Brett Lee and Ima Geisha Girl, which does not turn two until next month, saying he is one of the best greyhounds in the country.
“Last week’s run was very good because he copped a check and then ran home very well,” Ruetschi said.
“What he run home in has never been done before, it was unbelievable – I was very pleased with that.
“At this stage there is probably only one dog in Australia that could go with him – Fernando Bale.”
Ruetschi had originally planned on taking the black speed machine to Wentworth Park for a crack at the Group 1 Peter Mosman Classic before deciding to stick with his home track ahead of next month’s Group 1 Winter Carnival Cup.
“It was a toss up between the Peter Mosman or the Flying Amy,” he said.
“Fernando Bale was going for the Mosman and he is already won a couple of Group 1s at Wentworth Park and Pop The Cork would have had to learn the track – he is only really just starting to learn the trade at Albion Park.
“Home ground advantage is big thing for the Winter Cup because he is going to be racing some good, seasoned dogs.
“If he can get through the Winter Cup then our aim is the Maturity in Melbourne in July.”
Pop The Cork will exit box one on Thursday night against a classy field including Tony Brett’s Whata Nice Size (box two), Elusive Desire (box three) and Fabulous Storm (box six).
With a clean beginning the 29.57 track record, held jointly by Made To Size and Late Angel Lee, looks to be in danger.
“Hopefully it will suit him well being in box one, I think it should help him having nothing on his inside,” Ruetschi said.
“I would like to see him break the record on Thursday night but it is a top field – Tony’s dog beat him a couple of starts ago and it is in the two, but if he gets the right run he should win.
“He is a baby, he is still only young and he is learning all the time – he just needs a little bit of luck early.”
Ruetschi will be hoping for a big night this Thursday – the Patrick Estate mentor also has Hougenie engaged in the Group 1 Gold Cup over 710-metres. The front running stayer, currently $13 with Bet365, has drawn box seven after running a handy second in her heat last week.
“She is a good chance. If she can lead and if there is a bit of trouble behind her then I think she is going to be a massive hope,” Ruetschi said.
“She has been a phenomenal bitch – three weeks ago she was winning 520-metre best eights and now she is in a Group 1 over 700. It has not been the perfect preparation for her, but it was the best I could do.”
Ruetschi rates Brooke Ennis’ Lady Toy, a place getter in five Group 1 finals, as the dog to beat.
“I do expect improvement from Lady Toy, I think she may have been a bit underdone last week,” he said.
“She is very good bitch, she isn’t quick early and she likes the inside, but if she gets a cart across early then she will be a big danger.”
“Hougenie will be cherry ripe and if she gets a clear run out in front then there will be no excuses.”
Click here to read ARG’s preview of the Group 1 Gold Cup.
Watch Pop The Cork’s heat win from box two.