Jim Auld is deflecting the heat from punters, declaring his star greyhound Hooksy a false favourite in Saturday night’s $145,000 Group 1 Hudson Pacific Maturity Classic Final (525m) at The Meadows.
Auld, who owns and trains Hooksy in conjunction with wife Tanya, says that from Box 7 he should be almost $4.00 in betting rather than the $2.70 favourtism he currently holds on TAB fixed odds.
“I think Shoulders ($4.40) should be the favourite. He’s well drawn in Box 2 and looks hard to beat,” Auld said.
“Hooksy, on the other hand, looks to be up against it to me. Wide draws can be pretty tough at The Meadows, and with a pacy beginner on his outside (Mepunga Hayley – $3.20) I think he’ll need a lot of luck.”
Auld believes the box draw will prove a major factor in the $100,000 to-the-winner final. “If it were Hooksy drawn in Box 2 it would be a different ball game and I reckon he’d deserve to be a $1.80 or $2.00 favourite because inside draws are usually a big advantage in feature races,” the Tatura trainer said.
While not optimistic about Hooksy’s draw, Auld acknowledged that his star is steadily regaining his best form since experiencing a minor groin injury at Sydney’s Wentworth Park last month.
“He slipped on the mat in front of the boxes in Sydney and was turned sideways on the first turn in that race.” “It took me almost 10 days to get him right after that run, and since then he won at Shepparton in 25.17sec, which was the best of the night, but that time is not all that quick by his standards,” Auld said.
After that Shepparton win, Hooksy raced in the Maturity series, and he has qualified Saturday night’s final despite not winning a heat or semi-final of the age-restricted event.
“He looked like he was lacking a bit of confidence when he ran third in his Maturity heat, but he did enough to get through to the next round, and I felt he handed in a better run in his Maturity semi last Saturday when he came second.”
“So he is slowly getting back to his best, and I’m in no doubt that he is not far away from reaching the outstanding form he showed at Wentworth Park earlier this year.”
“I’m just hoping he can put it all together this Saturday night, but we’ll have to wait and see,” he said. Hooksy set Wentworth Park alight when dominating the Group 3 New Sensation at The Meadows earlier this year, running times superior to greyhounds competing in the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg series at the same time. The Maturity Classic will be run at 9:40pm on Saturday night.