Robert Britton concedes he’s hopeful rather than confident ahead of injury-plagued Above All’s return to the track in Friday night’s Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup heats.
Rewind 12 months and Above All shaped as one of the brightest stars on the sprinting horizon after he made the Melbourne Cup Final, running fourth to Dyna Villa, and then celebrated back-to-back Group 1 victories in the Hobart Thousand and Silver Chief Classic.
However, injury has restricted the former New Zealander to only six starts in 2015 and he’ll make his first appearance since August 13 when he exits box five in Friday’s opening Cup heat.
“It’s been a tragedy really,” Robert Britton said ruefully.
“I’ve copped the same thing with Space Star too. In my opinion they’re two of the best dogs going around and unfortunately they haven’t been going around.
“It’s a tragedy that Above All and Space Star are two of the best dogs going around and unfortunately they haven’t been going around” – ROBERT BRITTON
“Above All has done the stopper bone tendon on both front legs and Space Star has a similar type injury.
“I’m hoping rather than overly confident about Friday night. Above All’s trials have been okay but not exciting at this stage. I can’t fault him as far as soreness goes but he hasn’t set the world on fire yet. He hasn’t run the times he was running previously.
“Another couple of weeks would’ve been handy but you’ve got to have a go at the Melbourne Cup and at least he’s back on the track. I’m still pretty confident he’ll run well but I’m not confident he’ll run 29.20.
“To be honest I don’t know whether he’ll ever get back to his best but regardless of whether it happens in the Melbourne Cup I just hope he gets there. Hopefully it’ll be onwards and upwards from now on and if it doesn’t happen on Friday he should be cherry ripe for the Hobart Thousand in a few weeks.”Watch: Above All (3) runs a brilliant fourth in the 2014 TAB Melbourne Cup final despite encountering tremendous interference.
“Bearville Azza can be hit and miss but if he comes out he can run 5.01 or 5.02, which will put him right up there,” Britton said.
“He ran 29.40 at Sandown two starts back and I don’t think the track was that quick so he’s some sort of chance but more an each-way chance than a good thing.
“George Sannette can run the time if he’s allowed to but he keeps blowing the start and his chances will come down to how he begins.”
“Bearville Azza can be hit and miss but if he comes out he can run 5.01 or 5.02, which will put him right up there.”
Four heats of the Group 1 Bold Trease for the stayers will complement the Melbourne Cup qualifiers with renowned distance conditioner Britton, who won the race in 2013 with Cheetah Zorro, lining up Cosmic Vee Bee (heat 2, box 4) and ex-NSW chaser Lithgow Panther (heat 4, box 6).
“Lithgow Panther has been a bit disappointing at his last couple of starts,” Britton offered.
“He hasn’t been running it out but I think he’s been a bit unlucky because he’s been caught on two rain-affected tracks. He’s not a genuine stayer so he needs to be on top of the ground. I’d imagine it will be a fast track on Friday and if that’s the case he’s a good chance of making the final.
“Cosmic Vee Bee has made two Group 1 finals but she’s down on form and she’s a roughie.”
Watch: Bearville Azza (2) scores an impressive all-the-way win at Sandown two starts ago in 29.40sec.