Can champion Victorian sprinter Catch The Thief ‘steal’ a spot in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup?
That’s the salivating prospect – and a $5000 first prize – on offer for the overall winner (based on overall times) in the TAB SA Match-Race Series over 515 metres at Angle Park tonight.
The overall winner from the four match races is guaranteed a spot (if they accept) into the G1 Adelaide Cup on October 9.
Catch The Thief’s charismatic trainer Matt Clark is confident he will and thinks he can break the immortal Brett Lee’s longstanding 28.88sec track record set in 2001.
“I reckon he can give the track record a shake during this campaign… And he’ll stay in Adelaide for the Cup, regardless of the SA Match Race Series result,” Clark said. “I sent him across for a trial at Angle Park six days after the Cranbourne Classic final with these events in mind and he went 29.41sec.”
Last week, Catch The Thief was beaten a ‘cigarette paper’ by Christo Bale in a scintillating 29.61sec in a G3 Speed Star (525m) one-on-one at The Meadows. (Subsequently, they posted the fastest and second fastest individual times.)
“I wasn’t disappointed at all; it was great for the sport. That was the epitome of match racing,” he added. “And he pulled up a treat, so it’s been the perfect preparation for Adelaide,” he added.
Catch The Thief has been entrusted to the care of three-time National Sprint Championship winning trainer Petar Jovanovic for his SA campaign.
“It was a no-brainer for Petar to take care of him. He used to check my dogs when I started training,” Clark said.
Canine Transport Services Ray Brittain transported Catch The Thief from The Meadows (after the Speed Star) and arrived at Jovanovic’s property at 7am the following morning.
“I’m more than comfortable with my decision to opt for the Adelaide Cup rather than the Million Dollar Chase,” he added. “The match race concept suits him as he’s quick early and attempts to break their heart.”
Catch The Thief (May ’18 Aussie Infrared x Dundee Ally) has won 17 races from 29 starts and $138,455 in prizemoney. He won the G2 WA Derby and G3 Warragul St Leger, was runner-up in the G3 Speed Star and a finalist in the G1 Vic Peters Classic and G3 Cranbourne Classic.
He’s also won 11 of his past 16 starts and only been unplaced five times in his career.
“He’s been able to cope with the pressure of racing against the best. He has really been ultra-consistent,” Clark said. “Once he returns from SA, the Geelong Gold Cup is the immediate target.”
Catch The Thief ($1.04) versus Alfieri ($11.00) in SA Match Race 3 at 8.10pm tonight. He’s at $2.25 with TAB in the overall winner market.