Matthew Nash has been handed a massive boost in his eleventh hour bid to qualify Last Hurrah and Eight Ball for the semi-finals of the TAB Million Dollar Chase with both drawing box one for Saturday night’s heats in Sydney.
While regional centres have been the focus on qualification for the second edition of the MDC, six last-chance saloon city heats will be held at Sydney’s Wentworth Park this weekend, with the six winners and two fastest second placegetters advancing to next Friday’s semi-finals.
A 24-strong Victorian contingent will venture up the Hume Highway, with Matthew Nash, who’s based at Little River, near Geelong, boasting two leading contenders in Eight Ball (heat 2) and Last Hurrah (heat 6).
Nash trains Last Hurrah, while he bred and races Eight Ball, which is prepared by his good mate Philip Smith.
“Phil said he was taking Eight Ball up so I thought I’d jump in the car with him and take Last Hurrah as well,” Nash explained.
“They’re both coming off a bit of a break and neither of them has seen Wenty before but they’ve both drawn the red.
“The draw should help them both, but more so Last Hurrah because he loves the fence.
“I reckon box one will be okay for Eight Ball too, although he runs off a little bit at the first turn, down here in Victoria anyway. I’m not saying he’s going to do that at Wenty because he’s never been there before.
“Hopefully he’ll get out okay and he’s super strong. His last section is his best.”
WATCH: Last Hurrah (1) shows what he can do from an inside draw.
Eight Ball, the winner of seven of his 20 starts, including two from three out of box one, is TAB’s $1.75 favourite in the second heat.
Last Hurrah, which has won 12 from 26 overall and three out of five from the rails, is the $3.50 second elect in the sixth heat, with fellow Victorian Curt Lee (box 8), trained by Glenn Rounds, the $1.85 favourite.
“I think they’re both good chances and the market backs that up,” Nash said.
“They’re seriously fast dogs and while they haven’t been to Wentworth Park before, they both get around a track okay first-up and the good draws should help too.
“If they begin well they should be right in it.
“It’s exciting for us to be taking the two dogs up and it would be nice to get them through to the semi-finals and see what they can do at their second run up there.”
Nash originally trained Eight Ball; however Philip Smith had taken a very early shine to the son of the ill-fated but ultra-talented sire Kayda Shae and persistence paid off when he was handed the reins.
“I’m mates with Phil and when Eight Ball was very young, about three months old, Phil said if I’m ever going to give the dog to someone else to train to let him know,” Nash explained.
“I gave the dog a bit of a go but I didn’t have time to do him justice. He was way too green and a big dog too – 35 kilos – but Phil has found the best in him. He’s jumping out of his skin now.
“With Last Hurrah, I’m an electrician by trade and got too busy with work and kids so I decided to give away all my dogs except my broodies and just breed a litter here and there.
“But I reckon it was only about two days after I’d moved on the rest of my dogs that John Maple, who lives down the road, dropped two dogs off for me to train and I’m glad he did because Last Hurrah is a super dog.”