Boom youngster Hooked On Scotch set a very wet Sandown Park alight on Sunday evening with a brilliant display in the Group 3 515m Speed Star.
With just seven starts under his belt, the superbly-bred Hooked On Scotch, a son of Barcia Bale and Nicki Fields, followed in the sizeable footsteps of his superstar older half-brother Poke The Bear when clocking a blistering 29.113s on the rain-sodden surface.
Poke The Bear, which was also trained by champion mentor Jason Thompson and raced by breeders Darren and Michael Puleio, won the corresponding Speed Star event last September, clocking an almost identical 29.122s.
He then went on to win the Group 1 Topgun at The Meadows a month later.
Hooked On Scotch was the number one seed for the Speed Star after producing a scorching 29.087s qualifying performance and the December ’17 prospect started $2.90 favourite to win the event, ahead of Sennachie ($3.20) and NSW cult hero Feral Franky ($3.60).
WATCH: Hooked On Scotch (4) easily accounts for CABIN FEVER (3) in 29.11sec.
Hooked On Scotch lived up to the hype and careered away with his match race against Cabin Fever and the accompanying overall $20,000 winner’s purse, comfortably claiming time honours ahead of Sennachie (29.543s) and Black Signature (29.549s).
“You can’t help the weather but it’s disappointing because I know this dog can break the record here,” Jason Thompson told Sky Racing.
“I know he’s only a baby. I wouldn’t know how quick he is and I think tonight proves it.
“I’ve never had one at the same stage quicker but then you’ve got to turn into a good race dog.
“It’s not about running quick times all the time; it’s about being a good race dog. Dogs like Poke The Bear, Feral Franky and Sennachie are great race dogs and he’s got to become that.
“It would be nice to get here on a good night!”
WATCH: Lucy’s Milo (7) defeats Feral Franky (8) by a nose in a photo finish.
The two 515m Consolation events went to Sweet As Emm, trained by Brendan Pursell, in 29.348s and Jeff Britton’s Steinbrenner in 29.456s.
Jason Thompson started the bumper Speed Star program in great fashion with favourite Spring Bridge taking out the Group 3 595m Speed Star.
After qualifying with a 34.085s performance, Spring Bridge, a son of My Bro Fabio, started $2.20 favourite to take out the middle distance category and the market proved spot on as he defeated Blue Striker in the opening match race, running 33.946s in the wet conditions.
WATCH: Spring Bridge (2) defeats Blue Striker (1) in the fastest 595m run of the night.
Andrea Dailly’s $25 outsider Rockstar Prince posted the second fastest time of 34.084s, with third-placed True Detective, trained by Jeff Britton, running 34.371s.
“He does trial very quick and in his races he’s a bit awkward and he just hasn’t had a lot of luck in a lot of his races,” Thompson said.
“It would’ve been nice if we’d had no rain just to see how quick he could run because he’s run some really quick times in his trials on his own.”
The star attraction and long odds-on favourite in the Group 3 Speed Star Stayers (715m) was Tornado Tears, which was a two-time 595m Speed Star winner previously but looking for his first success in a distance match race series.
Robert Britton’s Tornado Tears was the unbackable $1.10 favourite for the event but had to survive several scares to claim a 42.120s success over Sandown Cup winner Rajasthan in the opening match.
After being out-paced by Rajasthan early, Tornado Tears baulked at taking an inside run but class prevailed in the home straight as he switched to the outside and forged clear.
WATCH: Tornado Tears (1) defeats Rajasthan (9) in a classic encounter between the two Sandown Cup winners.
“We expected that,” said handler Peter Riley.
“As soon as he drew Rajasthan we knew he’d have trouble somewhere during the race. Rajasthan is a quick dog early and he needed to find his way through. He worked hard but he got there.”
Rajasthan, trained by Rob Camilleri, finished second overall, running 42.251s behind Tornado Tears, with Angela Langton’s Blue Shadows (42.300s) finishing third.
EVERY RACE RELAY
Photos by: Clint Anderson.