Trainer Anthony Azzopardi says his champ Whiskey Riot will “strip fitter” for his Group 2 CKH Painting Shepparton Cup final (450m) assignment on Saturday night at 9.15pm.
“I deliberately kept him away from the racetrack – due to the canine gastro-enteritis outbreak – following the Australian Cup Carnival,” Azzopardi said. “He’ll definitely improve on his heat win as he was under-done.”
Whiskey Riot trialled over 450m at Shepparton, clocking 25.02sec, four days prior to commencement of the Cup series. Ironically, he posted identical time winning his heat from Box 4.
“He showed he’s full of heart in his heat… He was trying to head to the ‘fence’ while a couple of others were trying to push off the rails,” Azzopardi said. “You can never rule him out.”
Azzopardi added Whiskey Riot’s Box 7 draw in the final is “probably not the greatest for him. He keeps getting tough draws, but keeps getting the job done.”
Victory in the $47,000-to-the-winner Shepparton Cup would see Whiskey Riot’s prizemoney spiral to $846,090 – and would put him in ninth place on Australia’s all-time top stakes earners list.
“It’s going to be a cracking race… He has to come out humming, but I see the ‘red’ (Jebrynah – Box 1) as the one to beat,” Azzopardi said. “I think Jebrynah will land in front, and the ‘pink’ (Hard Style Rico – Box 8) will be up there… ‘Whiskey’ will need to be right on their hammer.”
However, Azzopardi also expects Whiskey Riot to be a “faster” version in the final.
Whiskey Riot was around four lengths slower than Hard Style Rico in his heat, with the latter simply extraordinary in setting a new 450m track record of 24.77sec.
“With natural improvement fitness wise, I think Whiskey Riot can make up the ground… He just needs a clear run,” Azzopardi said.
A dual G1 winner (Melbourne Cup and Temlee) – and a recent third to his litter brother Fernando’s Riot in the G1 Australian Cup – Whiskey Riot has won 21 races from 43 starts. He’s also undefeated in three starts at Shepparton – including a stunning 24.85sec PB.
Whiskey Riot is $2.90 on TAB fixed odds for the final behind the favourite Hard Style Rico at $2.40.
WATCH: Whiskey Riot (4) secure a Shepparton Cup heat in a 25.02sec.