Astute trainer Anthony Azzopardi will be chasing his fourth Group 1 Paws Of Thunder (520m) victory at Wentworth Park on Friday night.
Azzopardi won the ‘Paws’ with Fancy Will (2011), Asa Flying Spur (2016) and Raw Ability (2018). He was also runner-up last year with Cash Point, beaten three-quarters of a length by Buck’s Future who is attempting back-to-back wins.
This year, Azzopardi believes his $19.00 chance, Caishen – a litter brother of G1 Melbourne Cup hero Whiskey Riot – is a good each-way chance.
“He’s ideally drawn in box seven, as from the outside he usually comes out flying,” Azzopardi said. “Oakvale Beauty in box six is the key for us… Hopefully she give us a good cart across.”
Azzopardi says race favourite Feral Franky ($1.90) will “need a heap of luck from the inside” and that King Cratos ($5.50) is “the one to worry about and a massive chance from an outside draw”.
WATCH: Caishen (6) finish a narrow second to Feral Franky in a Paws Of Thunder heat.
“At $19, I think Caishen’s a little bit overs, because he’s the one with the pace… And that’s what wins races,” Azzopardi said. “He’s a good each-way bet and capable of an upset if he can obtain a break on the field.”
Owned by Matthew Riccio, Caishen led for most of the journey in his heat last week before being collared by Feral Franky in the closing stages and going down by one length.
Caishen was transferred to Azzopardi in October last year. And it paid immediate dividends with him winning his first three races in Victoria.
“Charlie Riccio asked me to take him for a few months as he was busy compiling HSC scores for New South Wales students,” Azzopardi said. “And as he has been going so well, Charlie simply said keep training him.”
“I’ve known Charlie as a greyhound racing acquaintance for around 25 years… We first met when I was based in New South Wales, and we’d often have a chat during meetings.”
Azzopardi says the change of environment has done Caishen the world of good.
“He’s just like his brother, calm and relaxed… He just loves to race and get the job done,” Azzopardi added.
“He’s a little bit behind Whiskey Riot… But his advantage is his early speed.”
Caishen has started on 32 occasions for 13 wins, seven seconds and one third, and $42,340. The Paws Of Thunder assignment is his first group race final.
Azzopardi has bred three litters out of Caishen’s prolific producing dam, Ready To Riot, under a lease arrangement with New South Wales breeder Colin Bermingham.
Her fifth – and youngest – litter are nine-months-old and by Barcia Bale.
“They are definitely her last litter… She now lazes around the farm and does what she wants to,” Azzopardi said. “She’s provided us with so many amazing memories… She deserves, and gets, the best of everything.”