Dubbed “the fastest chaser on the planet”, Hooked On Scotch is poised to notch up his fifth group race final victory in tonight’s Group 1 Hobart Thousand (461m).
In last week’s heats, Hooked On Scotch finished a surprise second to fellow Victorian Grey Ghost. However, his trainer Jason Thompson is confident the young megastar (who turns two years old tomorrow) can turn things around in the final.
“Plenty of good dogs have been beaten first up at Hobart… You’d expect improvement with that run under his belt,” Thompson said. “It can be a tricky track; they can get ‘lost’. And that’s what happened to him in his heat, he went from second to fourth going through the corner and at one stage he didn’t even look like he was going to qualify.”
Thompson conceded that box two is “probably not ideal” for Hooked On Scotch.
“But the local dog in box three (Hobart track record holder Stanley Gordon) appears to move right from what I’ve seen,” Thompson said. “There might be a bit of room… Hopefully he sees daylight.”
It appears punters have considered his heat performance a ‘blip on the radar’ as Hooked On Scotch is a $2.00F on the TAB Fixed Odds market.
“I can understand the support from punters, but travelling interstate is never easy for a greyhound,” Thompson said. “However, he has unbelievable ability… Hopefully he brings his A-game, and you’d like to think there’d be a marked improvement on his heat run.”
Following the heats, Thomspon left Hooked On Scotch in Tassie With Mick Stringer. “I had a look at the long-range weather forecast, and I’m so glad we’ve dodged the heatwave in Victoria,” Thompson said. (Thompson flew to Hobart yesterday to supervise final preparations.)
“This Hobart Thousand is a lot tougher race than you’d think… The Tassie finalists are very, very good dogs; they’d run good times on any track in Victoria,” Thompson added. “And Victorian counterpart Tiggerlong Tonk, who set the fastest heat time, is on the way up. There’s a lot of depth in this race.”
All being well, Hooked On Scotch is likely to be Sydney-bound for the 2020 G1 Paws Of Thunder series at Wentworth Park in January.
“I’m leaning that way (Paws Of Thunder), but it’s weather dependant,” Thompson said.
Thompson hasn’t got a crystal ball for Hooked On Scotch, who has registered 10 wins from 17 starts, but the intention is to keep racing the Sandown 515m track record holder well into next year.
“I won’t be keeping him in cotton wool,” Thompson said. “You want the owners to enjoy the ride, and hopefully the best is yet to come… Ideally, we plan to keep him going until the 2020 Melbourne Cup series.”
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