Missing a run in the Geelong Gold Cup has given resurgent Blue Striker a shot at Group 1 glory in the Hume Cup Final (600m) at The Meadows at Monday night’s bumper Melbourne Cup Eve meeting.
Trained by Peter Akathiotis in suburban Reservoir, Blue Striker returned to his best in last Saturday’s Hume Cup heats after being hampered by illness and injury in recent months.
“He’s had a couple of injuries and a few setbacks,” Akathiotis explained.
“When he last won at Sandown, back on June 13, he did a monkey muscle, and when he started back galloping he did it again, so for two months he did nothing.
“Then in the Speed Star when he got to the front and was beaten 11 lengths I knew there had to be something wrong and it turned out he had an infection. It’s never easy with fast dogs.
“He can match it with anyone when he’s at his best but it’s like football, when you miss a few games you’ve got to get your match fitness back. I’d say he’s about 90 per cent now and getting better and fitter all the time.”
Heading into the Hume Cup heats, the son of Blue Giant and Blue Lavros, also bred and raced by 66-year-old Akathiotis, hadn’t won in seven starts since resuming from injury, but he put the writing on the wall with a close second to the brilliant Hooked On Scotch in a Geelong Cup heat.
Blue Striker was first reserve for last Friday’s Geelong Cup but after missing a start he was a $12.80 outsider from box five in the first of five Hume Cup heats held the following night.
Blue Striker began well and drove through to lead with a lap to go and raced clear, defeating fast-finishing stayer Boom Down by 1.93 lengths in 34.43s, his 15th win from 53 starts.
“He can match it with anyone when he’s at his best but it’s like football, when you miss a few games you’ve got to get your match fitness back. I’d say he’s about 90 per cent now.”
“He did everything right in his Geelong Cup heat but he ran on the rail where it was very heavy and he got bogged down,” Akathiotis said.
“I hadn’t really looked at the Hume Cup before that but when he ran well at Geelong I decided to have a go at the Hume Cup and so far, so good.
“When he was first reserve at Geelong I didn’t really want to get a run.
“His heat win didn’t surprise me. I had $100 on him at 12/1!
“He began okay but he was right in the middle and I thought he was going to get squashed but he really accelerated. That showed me he was back to his old self; that’s what he does, he accelerates and takes off.”
Blue Striker is a $12 chance with TAB in Monday’s $75,000 to-the-winner Cup Final after drawing box four, however the potentially awkward alley holds no hears for Akathiotis.
“He’s had five starts out of box four for four wins, so he handles it well. I can’t complain,” Akathiotis offered.
“He hasn’t been able to win a Group race yet but he hasn’t had any luck with draws.
“He had box six in the Cranbourne Cup, box six in the Horsham Cup, box seven in the Golden Easter Egg and box seven in the Rookie Rebel.
“I think he deserves to win one (a Group race) but he’s up against a lot of good dogs and everybody wants to win.
“People think he’s a lot older than he is but he’s not even three yet. He started off at around 18 or 19 months so he’s been around a long time but hopefully he’s got a few more Group races in him.
“I’ve also got another four pups from the repeat mating to look forward to. They were born in February so they’re about nine months old and they look magnificent. They’re absolutely stunning.”
WATCH: Blue Striker (5) takes out his Hume Cup heat at odds of $12.80.