Little River trainer Matthew Nash couldn’t have wished for a better stage to have his first Group finalist than Friday night’s Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup Final (460m).
Nash’s hopes of a fairy tale feature race victory on home turf at his first attempt lie with consistent up-and-comer Last Hurrah (pictured), which is a $21 outsider in TAB’s market, where recent Adelaide Cup winner Hooked On Scotch is a clear-cut $2.40 favourite.
“I’ve never had a runner in a Group race before and this is my home ground,” said Nash.
“I’ve handled a few dogs for Brett Bravo in Group races but this is my first as a trainer.
“It’s taken me about ten years, so it’s taken a while, but you need the dogs and Last Hurrah is a real handy type. Hopefully he can keep it going.
“He’s been around Geelong a few times and he seems to like it. I don’t think he’s run a bad race for me there.”
After Last Hurrah ran second in the Joe Pearl Winter Cup Final over 520m at Geelong in late August, Nash ventured to Sydney for an eleventh hour crack at the Million Dollar Chase.
A son of champion sire Where’s Pedro, Last Hurrah ran second to fellow Victorian Curt Lee in his MDC heat but after securing a run as a reserve in the semi-finals he fell on the first turn after crossing paths with local hero Feral Franky.
Just one week later, Last Hurrah bounced back immediately and impressively in the second of five Geelong Cup heats held last Friday.
Drawn in box eight, Last Hurrah started at $7.50 and after beginning well he swept to the front approaching the home turn and finished best in the middle of the track to defeat roughie Wilbur Deeds by 3.31 lengths in 25.85s.
It was Last Hurrah’s third win from four starts over Geelong’s 460m course.
“He fell up at Wentworth Park but he was as good as gold afterwards,” Nash explained.
“He and Feral Franky were rolling around in the sand like lovers on the beach but he pulled up real good.
“He was untouched in his heat – he got a clear run – and that’s what he needs.
“I think the eight (Runnin’ Royalty) should lead and I’m hoping he can cross me because my dog can’t match it early and that will leave Last Hurrah out there on his own. Hopefully he might get a little cart into the race.
“It would be great to win your home Cup Final but he’s got bigger fish to fry and I really think 600m will be his go.”
There was more good news for Nash at Sandown last Thursday when Eight Ball, which he bred and races but is trained by his good friend Philip Smith, was a 29.70s winner, improving his record to nine from 23.
Eight Ball was also back in Victoria after traveling to Sydney for a tilt at the MDC, where he won his heat at Wentworth Park before finishing fifth to eventual series winner Good Odds Harada in a semi-final.
“Similar to Last Hurrah, I think we’ll see the best of Eight Ball over 600-650m,” Nash offered.
“I think he’ll head to the heats of the (Group 1) Hume Cup (600m) at The Meadows. It’s been a problem stringing races together with him but Phil’s been able to get three runs in a row now and it’ll be good to see what he does over 600m.”
2019 GEELONG GOLD CUP FINAL
Friday night 25 October – 460m
$47,000 (1st); $13,350 (2nd); $6,650 (3rd)
1. VIVATAR (Angela Langton, Anakie VIC)
2. SNAGS McKENZIE (David Burnett, Little River VIC)
3. HOOKED ON SCOTCH (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale VIC)
4. SLINGSHOT HAMMER (Robert Camilleri, Lara VIC)
5. PETER GALO (Garry Selkrig, Devon Meadows VIC)
6. LAST HURRAH (Matthew Nash, Little River VIC)
7. RILEY’S PAIGE (Clint Capuano, Lara VIC)
8. RUNNIN’ ROYALTY (John Barbara, Exford VIC)
9. BLUE STRIKER (Peter Akathiotis, Reservoir VIC)
10. WILBUR DEEDS (Gary Anders, Koroit VIC)
WATCH: Last Hurrah (8) takes out a heat of the Geelong Gold Cup on Friday night in 25.85sec.