by Mick Floyd
Best known for his barnstorming last-to-first racing style, Houdini Boy flipped the script in his heat of the Bold Trease (715m), leading all of the way to qualify for Friday night’s Group 1 final.
“I don’t know where that came from,” said trainer Kel Greenough.
“It was out of character. To actually jump out of the boxes like that, I can’t explain it.”
Houdini Boy’s issues at box rise had led some to compare him to retired champion thoroughbred Chautauqua. Both are renowned for their poor early speed but armed with a blinding finishing burst, making them among the most popular athletes in their respective codes.
Houdini Boy’s heat win came at just his second start since resuming from a seven-week injury layoff.
He recorded an explosive six-length victory in the sixth fastest time ever over 595m at Sandown on his return to the track – again coming from near last – before running the fifth-fastest time of the year over 715m in last Friday’s heat.
WATCH: Houdini Boy win his Bold Trease heat from box five.
While Greenough was delighted with the time it was the manner of the run which pleased him most.
“He seems to like to chase dogs down so when he found the front early I wondered if he might compound, especially being his first 700 (metre run) in ages.
“He pulled up really well. We all know what his habits are like and how he gets back, but hopefully he can lob in the first three on Friday which will make his job a bit easier.”
Greenough cited Sweet As Emm and Blazing Cartier as the biggest dangers to Houdini Boy ($1.80) claiming his first Group 1 final, urging caution about taking the short price on offer for his enigmatic star.
“I’m not a punter but seeing that price made me nervous,” he said.
“I really liked the run of (fastest qualifier) Sweet As Emm and she’s drawn very well (box 2), and you have to respect any runner Rob Britton has in the final – he’s won the last three Bold Trease finals – and Blazing Cartier certainly loves the track.”