Young Victorian trainer Correy Grenfell admitted to breathing a huge sigh of relief when superstar sprinter Orson Allen returned to his brilliant best in the heats of the Group 2 Macey’s Bistro Warrnambool Cup (450m).
After claiming his first Group 1 title in the Perth Cup in March, Orson Allen turned in two very rare unplaced efforts, albeit from bad draws in elite company, in the Golden Easter Egg heats in Sydney and Easter Gift at Sandown.
But he clearly hadn’t lost any admirers and after drawing box one for his Warrnambool debut in last Wednesday’s Cup heats he started a prohibitive $1.20 favourite.
The market proved spot on and it was one-way traffic as Orson Allen led all-the-way in 24.94sec, easily the quickest of the six Cup heats.
“Everyone is watching him so it was a relief to see him back to his best,” Grenfell said.
“There are always expectations with him but we can only do so much and the expectations mean he’s doing something right!
“I think it was a matter of confidence and box draws. He was down in confidence after the trip to Sydney and we also took a couple of straws off him, so I was a bit worried whether that might have affected him.
“He’d never been to Warrnambool before but he’s never been beaten off the red – that’s four from four now.
“To be honest, I actually thought he might have gone a bit quicker. I thought he could give the record a nudge but I don’t think the track was overly quick.”
Wednesday night’s $47,000 to-the-winner Warrnambool Cup shapes as a massive pay-night for Grenfell, as Orson Allen is also chasing a $50,000 bonus offered by Greyhound Racing Victoria for winning three Victorian country cups in a calendar year.
Orson Allen has already taken out the Cranbourne and Horsham Cups in 2019.
“We weren’t that disappointed when he was knocked out of the Easter Egg because Warrnambool was always the back-up plan and we knew he’d be going for the $50,000 bonus,” said Grenfell.
“If he can win on Wednesday he’ll get $97,000, which is better than some Group 1 races.
“He’s already earned just under $480,000, so he’s bought half a house and hopefully he can buy the other half!”
While Grenfell was delighted to see Orson Allen bounce back in breathtaking fashion, he’s not thrilled about the $2.70 TAB favourite drawing box eight for the Cup Final.
“There is a fair bit of speed in the race – Crimson Vixen split the quickest (6.43sec) and Anthony Azzopardi’s dog (Myrniong And All – 6.47sec) went quick too – so if he makes a mistake he’ll struggle to get across. It will all come down to the first corner,” Grenfell said.
While straws have been drawn from Orson Allen, Grenfell said there are no immediate retirement plans, with owner Brendan Wheeler happy to keep him racing at least until the Melbourne Cup in November.
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)