Anthony Azzopardi, based in Londonderry New South Wales, has been a regular on the Victorian racing circuit, most recently with Group 1 Maturity Classic semi-finalist Shoulders.
Although Londonderry is an eight hour drive to The Meadows, Azzopardi has a great relationship with one of his owners, which allows him to work and train out of a property in Myrniong, just outside of Bacchus Marsh.
The 50 acre property of Terry Kingcott, who owns Shoulders among other top-line greyhounds, has a 10-acre section specifically dedicated to greyhound training, where Azzopardi spends half of his time.
“When I come to Victoria I always stay at Terry’s property,” Azzopardi said “It’s got everything I need to train the greyhounds, it’s got a straight track, and 20 air-conditioned and heated kennels.
“It’s just outside of Bacchus Marsh too, so it’s in a great location.”
Azzopardi spends half of his time in Victoria and half in New South Wales, travelling great distances on a weekly basis to get the best results with his greyhounds.
Whether it’s driving his Mercedes Benz Sprinter, his Toyota Hilux with a greyhound berther, or carting around his 10-dog air-conditioned trailer, Azzopardi clocks up a lot of kilometres, the journey from Londonderry to Myrniong alone is nearly 1000 kms.
Shoulders, who is currently enjoying the heated kennels in Myrniong, has every chance to progress to the final of the Maturity according to Azzopardi after drawing box three in his semi-final.
“I don’t want to overstate it or anything but I do think he has a great chance (to make the final).
“The two (box two – Where’s the Surf) likes to go to the rails and the four (box four – Blurred Lines) stays straight, so he should have a clear passage through. If he positions himself on the rail and is near the front they won’t be able to catch him.”
Shoulders’ name is derived from an injury he suffered as a pup and despite running fast times at The Meadows (he has broken the 30sec mark twice), Wentworth Park (29.73sec) and Dapto (29.49sec), his trainer believes that the injury would have taken a couple of lengths off him.
“He broke his shoulder as a pup and the owner thought he wasn’t going to make it to the track. He decided to give him a chance and we went through a lot of rehabilitation with him.
“When we got him back to galloping you could immediately tell that he was something special, the times he runs now are fantastic but he probably would have been a couple of lengths quicker had he not been injured as a youngster.
“He never pulls up sore and has matured into his body now.”
Shoulders has box three in semi-final two of the Hudson Pacific Maturity Classic at The Meadows this Saturday night and is rated a $2.90 favourite for the race with TAB Fixed Odds.
Shoulders (2) runs second to Spring Leaf in his Maturity heat