LARA trainer Dave Geall will be in the unusual position of having home track advantage when he heads to Sydney for Saturday night’s Group 1 Paws Of Thunder.
The tricky Wentworth Park circuit will hold absolutely no fears for 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Geall, with his Paws Of Thunder finalist Miss Splendamiro (pictured above) boasting a great affinity with the venue, winning 13 of her 23 starts at the track.
“She started her career in NSW so she loves Wentworth Park,” Geall explained.
Since joining Geall’s star-studded kennel last October, Miss Splendamiro has won six from ten, finished third in the Group 1 Brisbane Cup and was narrowly beaten by superstar Poke The Bear in a heat of the Melbourne Cup.
She relished returning to Wentworth Park for the first time for last weekend’s Paws Of Thunder heats, clocking the second fastest qualifying time of 29.73sec, behind Poke The Bear’s flying 29.55sec.
Chasing her first Group 1 trophy, Miss Splendamiro (box 6) is the $3.50 second elect in TAB’s market, with Seona Thompson’s Poke The Bear (box 8) the $2.20 favourite.
“Whichever dog leads is going to need to get a big break on Poke The Bear because he is the fastest dog in Australia,” Geall said.
“I’ve had dogs beat him a couple of times, including My Redeemer in the Melbourne Cup, but on both those occasions Poke The Bear missed the start badly.
“Caitlyn Keeping ($7) is also a danger. She has been beginning really fast and could pinch a break on the rest of the field, while Buck’s Future ($7.50) also has plenty of early speed and could be pouring the pressure on.
“I think Miss Splendamiro is a good chance even though she is drawn in the dreaded box six. I think $3.50 is about the right price for her, but she would be a lot shorter if she was drawn in boxes one, two or three.”
Victorians will have a strong chance of claiming both feature races at the Paws Of Thunder meeting, with Robert Britton’s stayer Barcali the $1.90 favourite for the Group 2 Summer Distance Plate (720m) after the scratching of local ace Poco Dorado.
WATCH: Miss Splendamiro (5) wins her Paws Of Thunder heat in dominant fashion.