Robert Britton concedes even-money favourite Tornado Tears faces a “massive task” when the champion stayer tackles Saturday night’s Group 1 Zoom Top (725m) first-up after five months on the sidelines.
Featuring the best stayers in the land, the Zoom Top is one of three Group 1 invitational events headlining the opening night of The Meadows’ three-week $1.3 million Australian Cup Carnival.
While Tornado Tears hasn’t been seen in action since September, he’s the $2 favourite to give Britton a fourth Zoom Top trophy in six years, following Cheetah Zorro (2014), Space Star (2015) and million dollar girl Fanta Bale last year.
Britton has no peer when it comes to preparing stayers and his hard-earned reputation as greyhound racing’s Bart Cummings will be further enhanced if Tornado Tears can claim his fourth Group 1 trophy in his hugely-anticipated return from a hock injury.
“I’d rather be going into heats than a best eight,” Britton admitted.
“It’s a massive ask going straight into a 700 but in saying that, I was never going to start him in a 500 or 600 anyway.
“We’ve had a bit of luck in this race and it’s always been the target. He could’ve raced a month ago but I couldn’t see any point in rushing him.
“He’s had a long campaign to get to this point – he’s had seven or eight trials – and there hasn’t been one setback. The last two weeks he’s been running real time.”
Britton also has a more than capable second stringer in $5.50 chance Barcali, winner of the Group 1 Bold Trease during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, while he formerly trained Tornado Tears’ Group 1-winning litter brother Rippin’ Sam ($7.50).
The winner of 19 from 28, Tornado Tears is undefeated in two appearances over 725m at The Meadows, including a last start success in the Group 3 Top Cat Video Cup, albeit back on September 22, however Britton admits box eight is cause for concern.
“It’s not ideal,” said Britton.
“You would always take box one over 700. He might get across; he might not.
“I reckon $2 is about right. The only question is whether he can get across.
“If he can roll to the front, I’d be a bit disappointed if he didn’t win. But if he lobs midfield and has to do some work then he might be a week away.
“I cut right back on my race dogs, so Rippin’ Sam is with Brendan (Pursell) now. He’s going along at the same rate as Tornado Tears. We trialled them together over 600m at The Meadows and they absolutely dead-heated.”
Rippin’ Sam, runner-up to Fanta Bale in the 2018 Zoom Top, has only started once since winning the Speed Stars Stayers at Sandown on September 16, when injured in the Warragul Distance Cup on January 12.
Robert Britton also has Benali ($7.50), a litter brother to Zoom Top contender Barcali, engaged in the Group 1 Rookie Rebel over 600m.