Robert Britton gives boom staying prospect Rippin’ Sam a “genuine chance” of upstaging champion kennelmate Fanta Bale in Saturday night’s invitation only Group 1 Zoom Top (725m) at The Meadows.
The battle between millionaire marvel Fanta Bale and heir apparent Rippin’ Sam shapes as one of the highlights of the star-studded opening night of the Australian Cup Carnival, also featuring the Group 1 Temlee (525m) for the sprinters and middle distance Group 1 Rookie Rebel (600m).
“I’d say Fanta Bale is my best chance, but only because I think she will lead,” said Britton, who claimed back-to-back Zoom Top victories in 2014/15 courtesy of Cheetah Zorro and Space Star.
“It’s a massive rise in class for Rippin’ Sam but he’s a genuine chance if things go his way.
“They’re very different dogs. Fanta Bale makes the pace – catch me if you can – while Rippin’ Sam is all last section, but if I put them around solo or two-out Rippin’ Sam would go faster.”
Fanta Bale will be chasing an historic Australian Cup Carnival all-distance treble in the Zoom Top after she burst into prominence at the corresponding meeting last year, winning the Rookie Rebel followed a fortnight later by the Australian Cup.
Over the ensuing twelve months Fanta Bale has swept all before her, with her prizemoney tally of $1,182,975, second only to Fernando Bale, set to swell by a further $75,000 if she can claim her eighth Group 1 trophy.
Fanta Bale is the $2.40 TAB favourite for the Zoom Top, with Rippin’ Sam the $3.20 second elect; however Britton has cautioned that Fanta Bale could be vulnerable late over The Meadows’ 725m course.
“If they’re going to get Fanta Bale anywhere they’ll get her at The Meadows,” Britton warned.
“For some reason she seems to struggle over the last 20 metres at The Meadows, whereas she’s able to hold them out at Wentworth Park and Sandown, so I’m not as confident as I would be if the race was at those tracks.”
While Fanta Bale is closer to the finish of her career than the start, Rippin’ Sam is very much the new kid on the block and he faces a baptism of fire against a hand-picked line-up of the best stayers in the land at just his 17th start.
It will be Rippin’ Sam’s first test in Group company, but he’ll supply the x factor in the Zoom Top, having created a massive impression with five runaway victories at his first five staying assignments before a last start second at The Meadows.
“Rippin’ Sam has definitely got the ability to win it – his times say that – and he has been racing against some very good dogs and apart from his last start he’s given them a hiding,” Britton said.
“We’ve got to see how he handles the pressure against seven elite dogs, but if it’s not this week I’m sure he’s going to measure up in the next few weeks.”