LEADING Queensland conditioner Tony Brett will be aiming to secure his fifth victory in the Group 2 Bogie Leigh Futurity when his promising sprinter Split Image lines up from box three at Albion Park on Thursday night.
Brett’s past winners of the race have been Bogie Leigh (2003), Honey Mist (2007), Queen Lauryn (2008) and Velocity Regina (2010) – with Brett still labelling his first winner as the standout.
Originally run as the Queensland Futurity, Bogie Leigh had such an impact on the sport within her home state, that the feature was named in her honour from 2007 onwards.
“It is a very special race to me,” Brett said.
“I don’t think anyone else has won it four times, and the fact that it is named after Bogie Leigh makes it just that little bit more special.
“It is definitely a race I target each year and it is nice when you can pull off a victory.
“Bogie Leigh is the best bitch I have ever trained and one of the best dogs to have ever come out of Queensland.
“She left us with memories which we will never forget and it is nice to be able to remember her by having this race named after her.”
While she is no Bogie Leigh, Brett’s 2016 contender Split Image ($13 with Crownbet) is a talented bitch in her own right.
The daughter of Where’s Pedro and Unfinished dead heated this year’s Group 2 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden at Ipswich, with a total of three wins an four minor placings from just eight career starts.
The brindle bitch ran a terrific second in her heat last week, chasing gallantly despite the leader, See Blues Girl, racing erratically in the home straight and costing her a winning chance.
Brett was happy with the performance, but concedes the final is a lot tougher against a quality field including SA star Fabregal (box one) and ultra consistent local Sheza Keen Size (box four).
“Whether she would have won the heat or not I guess we will never know now, but I was very happy with the run as she gutsed it out to the line,” he said.
“Im expecting her to go ok.
“I don’t know if she can run the times that Fabregal or Sheza Keen Size can – they can probably get around the 29.80s or 90s.
“With that being said she does go good at Albion Park and she has a best time of 30.08, but I think she will need to get under the 30 to win this race.”
Brett believes his best chance of winning the feature is for Split Image to land on the bunny and pinch a break out in front.
“She has probably gotten stronger in her racing since the Vince Curry, but she has probably lost a little bit of early toe.
“I have really freshened her up this week in the hopes that it can get her to come out because she needs to reel off a quick first sectional to lead and be in with a chance.”
It could be a massive night for Brett this Thursday, with three runners also engaged in the heats of the Group 2 Queensland Derby (520m).
Thirty Talks, a winner of five of his seven starts, is the early favourite to take out the feature, rated a $3.65 shot with Bet365’s all in market.
He will jump from box one in the second heat against a handy field including Magical Yessam (box seven) and Tilly’s Boy (box eight).
Brett, while confident of his greyhound’s ability, says the draw is a concern.
“It can be a bit funny the red box – hopefully it helps him rather than hinders him.
“He has only been defeated twice and they were both from the inside – he had box one when he made the Vince Curry final and box three down in Melbourne.
“Without a doubt he has the potential to win a race like this, but I would like to see him get out and go from the inside before I go taking the short price for him.
“With that being said if he happened to jump and go on Thursday night I think you would see a pretty special run.”
A litter brother to Split Image, Brett says the duo share a lot of similarities, and is expecting big things from the 35 kilogram powerhouse in the future.
“[Thirty Talks] and his sister used to be get out and go dogs and if a stronger dog got on their bums they would be flat out holding them out over 500, but with more racing they are getting the strength at the finish.
“His box manners are mainly what’s holding him back at this stage, but I am hoping he learns what that’s all about.
“I have a pretty high opinion of him – I think he could end up being very special.”
Also contesting the series are another pair of litter mates, Zabdon Lambo and Zabdon Ferrari, which will contest the first and third heats respectively.
Brett says both of the Magic Sprite x Awesome Knocka dogs are drawn ok, with Zabdon Lambo in box four and Zabdon Ferrari in box three.
“Zabdon Lambo lacks a bit of experience, this will only be his fifth start, but you only get one chance at the Derby.
“He is a jump and run type of dog which gets a bit tired at the finish so hopefully he is off and gone early.
“The vacant box on his outside should help him as he does tend to sit off the track a little bit.
“I don’t know if he has a 29.90 run in him which you may need to win these sort of heats, but his brother Zabdon Ferrari definitely has.
“In my opinion he is the better of the two dogs, but in saying that his box manners leave a bit to be desired.
“If they get a chance they will both be in the finish for sure.”
For punters wanting to know which runner Brett selects as his best chance on Thursday night, the Grandchester mentor was quick to answer when put on the spot.
“Thirty Talks is my best chance,” he said.
“I think he is going to be something special – he has just got to put it all together.”