The task of ending a hometown drought in Wednesday night’s Group 2 Macey’s Bistro Warrnambool Cup (450m) is in the very best of hands with local training legend Norm McCullagh and his emerging star Crimson Vixen.
McCullagh famously won four consecutive Sandown Cups with his immortal stayer Bold Trease between 1986 and 1989 and the 79-year-old has also won the Warrnambool Cup twice, with Super Mira in 1984 and Midnight Flirt in 1995.
The last local Cup winner was Honcho Classic, prepared by Kevin Mugavin, in 1999.
If the lightly-raced Crimson Vixen, the winner of eight of her 14 starts, can give McCullagh a third Cup victory, there’s every chance what is certain to be a large and very parochial crowd could raise the roof.
“I’ve won the Cup a couple of times but it would be very nice to win this one,” McCullagh said.
“Her owners are all locals. They’re a group of six mixed up with the Timboon Football Club. She’s the first dog they’ve owned and they’re having a ball. They’re loving every minute of it.
“They were always at me to get them a pup and I told them they could take their pick between Crimson Vixen and her sister, Delta Rhode. Delta Rhode goes alright too but she’s injured an Achilles.
“Crimson Vixen will have plenty of support. I reckon she brought another 40 people to the track for the heats. The beer sales will be up too; her owners take some keeping up with!”
Five straight victories in February/March earned Crimson Vixen her first interstate trip to Sydney for the heats of the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg, but after she ran second, a disappointed McCullagh had to scratch her from the semi-finals.
“She got dehydrated pretty badly and I had to have her on a drip for a couple of days. It took a fair bit out of her so we couldn’t go back,” McCullagh said.
“She was favourite for her semi-final too!”
After her aborted Easter Egg campaign, Crimson Vixen resumed in last Wednesday’s opening Warrnambool Cup heat, where she started the $2.40 second elect from box two, with Anthony Azzopardi’s Whiskey Riot the even-money favourite.
Crimson Vixen led clearly, posting the fastest first section among the six heats of 6.43sec, but she was edged out by Whiskey Riot in a driving finish, beaten .41 of a length in 25.10sec.
After again drawing box two for the $47,000 to-the-winner Cup Final, Crimson Vixen is on the third line of betting in TAB’s market at $5.50.
Fastest heat winner Orson Allen, which is chasing a $50,000 bonus for winning three country cups in a calendar after victories at Cranbourne and Horsham, is the $2.70 favourite from box eight.
“It’s a top field – the pink (Orson Allen) will be hard to beat I suppose – and it’s a huge test for Crimson Vixen,” McCullagh offered.
“She’ll be competitive but she’ll need some luck.
“She would have to lead and have some trouble behind her to win, but in saying that the heat was her first run in three weeks so she might be able to find a couple of lengths.”
2019 WARRNAMBOOL CUP
Wednesday 1 May – 450m
$47,000 (1st); $13,335 (2nd); $6,665 (3rd)
1. Lucy’s Milo (Andrea Dailly)
2. Crimson Vixen (Norm McCullagh)
3. Whiskey Riot (Anthony Azzopardi)
4. Dyna Patty (Andrea Dailly)
5. Myrniong And All (Anthony Azzopardi)
6. Eye Got It (Andrew Paraskevas)
7. Dyna Hunter (Steven Collins)
8. Orson Allen (Correy Grenfell)
9. Flynn (Harry Manolitsis)
10. Kinloch Moss (Joy McDowall)