NSW marauder Fantastic Yankee will be striving to break a remarkable interstate hoodoo in Saturday night’s Group 1 Feikuai Greyhounds Silver Chief Final (525m) at The Meadows.
The Silver Chief was introduced in 1964 but since it was first run at The Meadows in 1999, the race has been won exclusively by Victorian-trained sprinters.
But Jason Fletcher is upbeat about creating history with Fantastic Yankee, the winner of seven of his 11 starts and the $4.20 second elect in TAB’s market on the $100,000 to-the-winner Silver Chief, behind $1.90 favourite Barooga Brett.
“It’s hard enough winning a fifth grade at The Meadows, let alone a Group 1,” admitted owner/trainer/breeder Fletcher, who hails from Falls Creek on NSW’s South Coast.
“It’s one of those tracks where local knowledge counts for so much.
“I gave Fantastic Yankee a trial at The Meadows the Monday before the heats and he went nice, although he didn’t time the start too good and it was a similar story in his heat.
“The lure is a bit quieter in Melbourne, the boxes are a bit different and it’s also his first trip away. But he worked it all out in his semi-final.”
After running fifth in his heat, Fantastic Yankee was originally a semi-final reserve but he took full advantage of a fortuitous thirteenth hour reprieve from box one, leading all-the-way in 29.90sec, staving off the fast-finishing Rio Brave.
“He ran the fastest first and second splits in the semi-finals,” Fletcher said.
“I only found out that he’d got a run from box one on race morning and I quickly put him in the van and hit the road. But I made sure I backed him before we went out the driveway, because you’ve got to pay for the petrol!
“I’m really happy with box two. I just think that drawing inside at The Meadows is a massive advantage.
“The favourite (Barooga Brett) has box one and if we can beat him to the winning post the first time, Fantastic Yankee will take off down the back and hopefully get a big enough break. He’s as good as he can be; he’s just got to begin.
“He’s got enormous speed and runs near-records up to 450m. He’s only had 11 starts and I expect him to get a bit stronger. The hot weather last Saturday travelling down to Melbourne might have taken a bit of a toll.
“After he ran 29.58sec at Wentworth Park at his eighth start, I didn’t have any choice but to bring him down for the Silver Chief.”
Fletcher is no stranger to Group 1 racing at The Meadows, with Fantastic Yankee’s ‘uncle’, Fantastic Spiral, having contested the Topgun (2015) and Temlee (2016) invitationals.
“Fantastic Yankee’s grandmother, Light Fantastic, also won a heat and final over 600m at The Meadows for me,” Fletcher said.
“I love coming to The Meadows; the course and the professionalism is out of this world and the prizemoney’s not bad either!
“Fantastic Yankee’s mother, Fantastic Dotty, broke the Dapto track record at her first two starts when she won the (Group 3) Dapto Maiden. Fantastic Yankee is from her first litter, to KC And All, and she’s also had a litter to Barcia Bale that’s about 12 months old.
“She’s in pup again to Fernando Bale. They’re due on Australia Day and I’m hoping there’s about 12 in there!”