BLAKE Pursell has had a massive month on the track and the Brighton trainer is hoping the success can continue next Tuesday when his blue powerhouse Two Blue (Barcia Bale x Wiradjuri Girl Aug ’14) contests the Group 3 Devonport Cup (452m).
Two Blue is owned in NSW by Charlie and Lisa Lamb and he ventured to the Apple Isle after a brief stint in Victoria for leading conditioner Rob Britton.
Making his debut for Pursell as the second reserve in his heat last week, Two Blue was well away from box seven and was able to carve his way across to take up the early lead.
Despite the best efforts of the favourite Stylish Nic (Fabregas x Stylish Abbey Oct ’14) Two Blue was too good on the line, winning by one and three quarter lengths in 25.73.
Pursell, who has a team of 14 in work, said he was relieved the 32.5-kilogram sprinter gained a start in the series as he has a big opinion of the dog’s ability.
“He was reserve the week before too and I really wanted him to get a start because he’d trialled good at his first look at the track,” Pursell told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“Luckily he got a run in the heats and he was able to show what he can do. When he came here I knew he had massive ability, so I am thankful he is peaking at the right time for the Devonport Cup – it’s the ideal track and distance for him.”
Two Blue will have to overcome box six to claim the $25,000 to the winner final against a super field including Leeroy Rogue (Big Daddy Cool x Fantasy Royale Apr ’14), dual group 1 winner Aqua Cheetah (Cosmic Rumble x Dalta Bale Mar ’14) and recent Hobart Thousand winner Rock Up Top (Spud Regis x Proven Way May ’15).
Despite the draw looking tricky on paper, Pursell is hopeful his charge can use box six to his advantage.
“Invictus Rapid (box five) isn’t quite as fast as him early so he should get some room on his inside and the seven (High Treason) and the eight (Gotta Be You) both run a straight line so I’d like to see him punch up there and be one of the early leaders.
“He can miss the start a little bit, but he has got great speed when he hits the ground – his engine is enormous.
“I think he can go a bit better than his heat too. He’d been trialling but he hadn’t had a start for two months, so for him to come out and win the other day was very impressive.
“Having that experience in a field and the run under race conditions should benefit him – we just have to hope for a bit of luck.”
A win in the feature would be the first group win for Pursell who has only been training full time for just over 12 months. His family are also involved in the industry – his father Brendan was a leading Tassie trainer and now co-trains with Rob Britton in Victoria.
While he is yet to train a big winner with his name beside it, Blake played a vital role in Rock Up Top’s Hobart Thousand win last month – having acted as his caretaker trainer throughout the series.
He is once again looking after the 11-time winner which will jump from box four in the Devonport Cup and says he is thankful for the opportunity presented to him by Britton and the greyhound’s owner, Gerard Targett.
“It was great to have him here and to be a part of winning the Hobart Thousand was a great feeling,” Pursell said.
“Even though I don’t train the dog, just being a part of the team was amazing and I think it helped me learn a few things too.
“It is an honour for me to be helping Rob out – he has given me a lot of support and guidance and I really appreciate him trusting me with the dog.”
The Group 3 Devonport Cup is race eight next Tuesday and is scheduled to jump at 2.22pm.
2018 Group 3 Devonport Cup
1 – Apollo Blue
2 – Leeroy Rogue
3 – Aqua Cheetah
4 – Rock Up Top
5 – Invictus Rapid
6 – Two Blue
7 – High Treason
8 – Gotta Be You
9 – Chief Jetpilot
10 – Two Bills