Wangoom trainer Mathew Wright finished fourth with hometown hero Lightning Frank in the 2018 Group 2 Warrnambool Cup.
But this year, Wright is hoping ‘lightning’ strikes twice in the same place – albeit with greater accuracy.
While realising he is facing the ‘big boys’ in the heats, Wright has been to the ‘top of the tree’ in the sport courtesy of Lightning Frank.
“It was a huge thrill, a privilege training him… I was just the lucky one to get him,” Wright said. “I’d love to be doing it over again, but you just have to be patient.”
Wright will rug three runners in the Warrnambool Cup heats (450m) on Thursday’s twilight fixture.
Pawnote: Lightning Frank contested nine group race finals, winning the 2017 G1 Silver Chief and G1 Temlee. He also finished third in both the G1 Topgun and G1 National Derby, and was a finalist in the G1 Australian Cup – all in 2017. He retired to stud as a winner of 22 races from 47 starts, with stakes totalling $338,787.
He will line up with Rixy Ya Pest (Race 4 Box 1 – 3.22pm), followed ironically by her younger half-siblings and littermates Mario Vest Only (Race 5 Box 7 – 3.42pm) and Big Brebler (Race 8 Box 2 – 4.44pm) – both of whom are sired by Lightning Frank.
All three have the same dam – Fireball Fury – who has a fourth litter, by Mepunga Blazer, that are around 12 months old.
“Initially, I rated Big Brebler as my best chance, but that was until I noticed the field… She’s drawn a red-hot heat,” Wright said. “But she’s drawn really well and has genuine speed.”
Big Brebler faces the might of two-time G1 winner Simon Told Helen (Box 1) and Zambora Smokey (Box 4), a winner of 10 races from 14 starts.
Wright rates Rixy Ya Pest as a “good each-way chance” but also concedes it’s a “throw at the stumps”.
Please note: Race 1 on the 11-race twilight meeting is scheduled for 2.14pm.
“She’s drawn where she needs to be but isn’t in the elite level… She’ll need to do everything right.”
Rixy Ya Pest, who was a 2018 G2 Ballarat Cup finalist and a reserve for last year’s G1 Sapphire Crown, is pitted against sprinters the ilk of five-time group race finalist Crimson Vixen (Box 8) and Zambora Lou (Box 7), who has won seven races from 11 starts.
And Wright says Mario Vest Only is “probably a class below this company”.
“He’s an improving type and I would have preferred him drawn wider… He’s been meeting some handy dogs, but he really dug deep at his most recent start.”
Mario Vest Only meets top prospects Aston Stealth (Box 1) and Jax Bale (Box 2), along with G1 Australian Cup finalist Aston Cade (Box 4) and G2 Horsham Cup runner-up Mepunga Pegasus (Box 5).
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