A syndicate largely comprising first-time owners is hoping to celebrate a fairy tale feature race success on Friday night when classy sprinter Italian Plastic faces his biggest test to date in the Group 2 Pet Panels Geelong Gold Cup Final.
“There’s ten in the syndicate and at least seven are first-time owners,” explained Matthew Ramsden, manager of the Catching Pen Syndicate which races the Harry Manolitsis-trained Italian Plastic.
“I’ve had a couple of handy dogs in the past but this is my first ownership venture in about a decade and it’s been a welcome return. I’m pretty excited about Friday night. It’s the first Group runner we’ve ever had, although it’s not Harry’s first.
“It’s been a real surprise. If you’d told me Italian Plastic would have 29 starts for 14 wins, 11 placings, win in town and make a Geelong Cup Final when I picked him up as a pup 2 ½ years ago I would’ve said you were mad!
“We’re all over the moon with what he’s achieved so far. Hopefully getting a dog like this will get the first-timers hooked but every dog we get from now on will have to be this good. I wish it was always this easy!”
Italian Plastic was forced to the sidelines after being injured during the Maturity Classic series in July, but he’s returned in great fashion, winning his last three starts, including a 25.54 heat victory at Geelong last Friday.
After drawing box six for the $47,000 to-the-winner Cup Final, Italian Plastic is an $11 chance in TAB’s market, with Correy Grenfell’s 25.30 heat winner Orson Allen the $2.25 favourite.
“If he could finish in the placings we’d be absolutely stoked,” Ramsden said.
“The draw isn’t a car crash but it’s not the best either. We would’ve preferred seven or eight but if he gets a clear run I think he can put himself at the pointy end.
“Harry (Manolitsis) and I usually say he’s not quite in the top tier – with the Poke The Bears and real Group 1 dogs – but he’s in the tier just below.
“We’re probably seeing the best of him at the moment. He’s had a few little injuries and he’s been fairly lightly-raced. He’s still south of 30 starts and he’s coming up to three in January. But he’s hit good form and at a good time too.
“I bought him as a baby off Carly Feltham-Palmer. I was searching for a pup and I was pretty specific that I wanted something out of Cosmic Rumble. He was reared by Karen Leek – she’s a master. He fractured a metacarpal at break-in and then Harry grabbed the reins when he was about 20 months old. It’s been onwards and upwards since then.
“His name came about when Harry rang me and said we needed to name him. When Harry called I was listening to an album by Crowded House and there was a song on the album called Italian Plastic. I’d love to be able to tell you a better story about his name but that’s how it happened!”