Ian Garland is optimistic it will be a case of third time lucky in Shepparton’s Group Listed Northern Districts Cup when his exciting youngster Hone In faces the biggest test of his brief career.
Garland, who combines training duties with running a hairdressing business with his wife in Bendigo – an intriguing mix – qualified a finalist for the Northern Districts Cup for the third straight year when Hone In held hot favourite Proven Kodiak at bay in his heat on Monday.
“I ran third in the race last year with Disco Rain and in 2014 I had a very nice dog called Overdrive that won his heat pretty impressively,” Garland said.
“Hone In is only very young but he’s a very good chaser and he can run. He ran some very fast times on his own before I started racing him” – IAN GARLAND
“Overdrive probably would’ve run second favourite in the final but he injured his foot and I had to scratch him. He had an operation and I got him back to win a race but he wasn’t the same.”
Garland received a pleasant surprise when Hone In, which is raced by course photographer Leo Dahl, staved off $1.30 favourite Proven Kodiak to win his heat of the $25,000 to-the-winner Cup in 25.59sec.
It was the October ’14 son of Spring Gun’s third win from six starts and no mean feat considering Proven Kodiak boasts 15 wins and was a finalist in the Group 2 Shepparton Cup in February.
“Hone In was lucky to win. Proven Kodiak should have jogged in,” Garland conceded.
“I didn’t think he could beat Proven Kodiak – I thought they were running for second – but I was confident he would run second.
“Proven Kodiak gave Hone In five lengths start and only got beaten a neck and my dog’s not weak,”
WATCH: Hone In’s impressive win from box 6 over $1.30 favourite Proven Kodiak (box 1).
“Hone In is only very young but he’s a very good chaser and he can run. He ran some very fast times on his own before I started racing him.
“Because I’ve been in the Northern Districts Cup the last couple of years I had the race in mind for him. To be eligible they’ve got to have had two starts at Shepparton, no city wins and less than $25,000 in prizemoney, so it’s basically a race for promising young dogs.”
After drawing box eight for Friday evening’s Cup Final, to be run at 8.42pm, Garland is optimistic Hone In can repeat his upset heat victory over Wayne Vassallo’s Proven Kodiak (box 4), which once again looms as his major stumbling block.
“I’ve got a hunch that my dog will begin off the eight and I think he’s a good each-way chance,” Garland said.