Champion Victorian trainer Jason Thompson says he can’t believe that record-breaking heat winner Deliver is odds-on favourite for Saturday night’s TAB Million Dollar Chase Regional Final (525m) at Wagga.
Thompson, who trained beaten favourite Poke The Bear in last year’s inaugural Million Dollar Chase Final, made his first ever foray to Wagga for last Friday’s MDC heats with kennel stars Black Opium and Deliver.
“I’ve been to Wagga plenty of times taking Ben (son, jockey) to the gallops but I’d never been to the greyhound track.”
Thompson met with mixed results, with dual Group 1 winner Deliver smashing the track record in the opening qualifier, clocking 29.71s, while 2018 Melbourne Cup runner-up Black Opium then suffered a shock defeat in heat three at $1.22.
TAB has reacted by installing Deliver as $1.70 favourite from box three in Saturday’s final, ahead of Black Opium at $2.90 from the five; however Thompson doesn’t agree.
“I can’t believe the price Deliver is,” Thompson said.
“I was really pleased with him last week but as well as he went there’s no way known he should be that short.
“He broke the record off box one, he moves to box three this week and there’s a lot more competition early. His first section last week wasn’t great either.
“Ability-wise there isn’t much between the two of them but Black Opium is definitely quicker and she’s also been in the better 500m races.
“She’s made the finals of the Melbourne Cup, Australian Cup, Golden Easter Egg, National Sprint Championship and Brisbane Cup – there aren’t many bigger races than that – and she’s run second in three of them.”
While Black Opium was disappointing when runner-up to local outsider Ultimate Speed in her heat, beaten one length in 30.04s, Thompson says it could pay to forgive and forget that run with the benefit of last week’s experience.
“She just got lost,” Thompson said.
“Obviously, neither of them had been there before and she was a bit new to the track. I’m sure they’ll both get plenty of benefit from being around there last week.
“Black Opium has drawn smack-bang in the middle and that’s probably where I would prefer her to be. Seven and eight might be a bit too wide.
“The main thing is that they both finish in the first four and get through to the next round of the series at Wenty.”
Deliver was the first leg of a Victorian double in the three Wagga heats, with There’s A Catch, prepared by Ray Henness at Heathcote, successful in 29.97s.
There’s A Catch is an $8 chance with TAB from box seven in the decider.
Wagga’s Regional MDC Final will jump at 6.57pm on Saturday.