When brilliant youngster Hooked On Scotch won the Group 3 Sandown Speed Star in a scorching 29.11s in September on a rain-soaked track, champion trainer Jason Thompson said the wet weather was disappointing because “I know this dog can break the record here.”
In Friday night’s Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup heats, Hooked On Scotch (pictured above) vindicated Thompson’s judgement with a stunning display on the best night’s racing on the Australian calendar.
Drawn in box eight in the fifth of eight star-studded Cup heats, Hooked On Scotch started $1.60 favourite and after crossing to the lead at the winning post the first time, the regally related son of Barcia Bale and Nicki Fields put his rivals to the sword.
Hooked On Scotch careered away to a 8.33 length victory over Lucy’s Milo, stopping the clock at a gobsmacking 28.939s, breaking the previous 515m course record of 28.951s, established by Unlawful Entry in March 2016.
“No!” was Jason Thompson’s succinct response when asked by Sandown’s Jason Adams on Sky Racing’s coverage whether the record-breaking performance was a surprise.
“I just wanted to see him put on a show that I knew he could do.
“You wouldn’t say it’s a lightning fast track and to see what this dog can do; the dog’s a freak.
“I’ve said it for a long time. He’s a freak and backed my judgement and faith in the dog that he could break the record and he’s done it. And he’s done it on a night where it really counts – on a Cup heat night – and I couldn’t be more proud of the dog.”
“I just wanted him to put on a show” – Jason Thompson
With Thompson and wife Seona eyeing an unprecedented fifth Melbourne Cup victory next Friday, he ominously suggested the half-brother to his 2018 Topgun hero Poke The Bear can go even quicker.
“He didn’t begin as good as we’d like to see him begin because he’s only run 5.11s (first section),” Thompson said.
“If you’re talking about what he can do, well, he can run a length quicker.”
Hooked On Scotch’s awesome display continued his remarkable run of form that has seen the 23-month-old win eight of his last nine starts, headlined by feature victories in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup, Group 2 Geelong Cup, Group 3 Shootout and Group 3 Speed Star.
Thompson recorded a heat-to-heat double in the sixth run-off when kennel newcomer Flynn, which started $1.90 favourite from box one, led all-the-way in 29.26s.
Topgun victor Get It Gizmo, trained by Harry Manolitsis, also clocked 29.26s in winning heat three, as did Glenn Rounds’ Western Australian import Campini, which came from behind to defeat $1.40 favourite Shima Shine in the seventh qualifier.
The Hooked On Scotch form-line stacked up in the opening heat, where Anthony Azzopardi’s Whiskey Riot, narrowly beaten when runner-up to the new track record holder in the Adelaide Cup and Shootout, proved too strong for youngster Simon Told Helen in 29.33s.
Partners Jeff Britton and Angela Langton both won heats, courtesy of Oakvale Beauty (29.41s) and Western Envoy (29.58s) respectively, while two-time Cup winner Andrea Dailly will take aim a third title with 29.50s qualifier Jaro Bale as Victorian sprinters clean-swept the heats.
Note: The Box Draw for the 2019 TAB Melbourne Cup will be conducted on ‘Thrill Of The Chase’ – 10am Sunday on 7Mate.
WATCH: Hooked On Scotch (8) wins his TAB Melbourne Cup heat in track record time.
HEAT TIMES (fastest to slowest)
Hooked On Scotch: 28.939s
Get It Gizmo: 29.263s
Whiskey Riot: 29.328s
Oakvale Beauty: 29.407s
Jaro Bale: 29.497s
Western Envoy: 29.582s
Photos by Clint Anderson