In a recent ARG podcast, astute New South Wales trainer Jason Mackay rated Thompson alongside Darren McDonald as the best trainer he had seen anywhere in the world. That has to be considered quite a glowing endorsement, coming from a successful industry peer.
ARG caught up with Thompson this week to discuss his chances in the big race as well as to reflect on the achievement of qualifying his trio of speedsters, Ronan Izmir, Innocent Til and Black Magic Opal.
“It is very pleasing to get them all into the final. What is even more pleasing is the fact that they are all dogs that have done very well for me,” he said.
Thompson’s three dogs have won a jaw-dropping 95 races between them, almost all of which have been whilst under the tutelage of the expert Pearcedale based mentor.
He says that while they are all the type of dogs you love to have, that does not always guarantee that they will make the finals of the big events given the competition in Victoria.
“You get dogs hoping that they will be good enough to make Group finals but it doesn’t always work out that way, so it is definitely great for them all to make it.”
Ronan Izmir will jump from the coveted rails alley in the race, a box which he has won no less than eight of nine races from. He won the race in 2013 and could well go back-to-back.
“The box has bought him right into the race. He is coming back from a torn back muscle and last week was his fourth run back and, in my opinion, that was his best run since he has been back. He is drawn to be right in this.”
Innocent Til is the type who will be ready to pounce should anyone up front make a mistake and, as Thompson explains, he may get a cart into the race.
“He is well drawn too, obviously he will not be up in the firing line early but he should be in a good position as they go to that first turn and that should give him an opportunity to do something in the race.”
Superstar chaser Black Magic Opal looks the obvious pick in the $43,750 to-the-winner event. While many would see box five as a hurdle that he has to overcome, Thompson explains why the draw should actually suit his flying machine.
“I’m actually happy with the draw. You can get what you think is a good box sometimes and the dogs drawn around you make it a rotten box, but for this race I think the dogs drawn around him make box five a good box. I like him drawn the middle to wide, obviously he has to get away cleanly but I think the draw will allow him to do that. He is clearly the one to beat, it is just a matter of him doing what we know he can do.”
While having three in the final is already a huge accomplishment in itself, there is a very high likelihood that, come 8:50pm or so on Wednesday night, the kennel of J.Thompson of Pearcedale will boast another Group success on their already bulging CV of such achievements.