Bill McMahon is using Saturday night’s Group 2 BFC Ballarat Cup heats (450m) as a stepping stone to the Group 1 Silver Chief later this month with his homebred rising star Dr. Tucker.
However Dr. Tucker hasn’t been given any favours in his quest to bounce back from a Melbourne Cup disappointment, being drawn against newly-crowned Ballarat track record holder Pirate Pete.
Dr. Tucker, a son of Darriman-based McMahon’s former gun sprinter Bernardo, was well-fancied in a Melbourne Cup heat but wasn’t able to cross from box eight when finishing at the tail of the field behind upset winner Zipping Sullivan.
“He strained a ligament on his outside front toe at Sandown,” McMahon explained.
“It was always the plan to take him to one-turn tracks before the Silver Chief. The Ballarat Cup came up; it’s a nice race and a beautiful track.
“This is the sort of race to test him out and then he’ll appreciate dropping back to his own age group in the Silver Chief.
“I do think he’s more of a two-turn dog. He had a look at Ballarat and ran 25.20s, which isn’t special but it was a good run for trial day, and his splits of 6.51s and 11.15s are about as good as they go.”
Dr. Tucker will lock horns with Pirate Pete, trained by Jason Thompson, which clocked 24.70s at Ballarat at his most recent appearance, breaking Topgun hero Shima Shine’s previous mark of 24.75s, in the third of six Cup heats.
Pirate Pete (box 3) is $2.40 favourite with TAB to extend his winning streak to five in a row, ahead of Dr. Tucker, which has to contend with another wide draw in seven, at $3.60.
“I think you’ll find that he will be going to the front,” said McMahon.
“Whilst Pirate Pete holds the track record I don’t think he’s as explosive as my dog early.
“You either get through or you don’t but I’d rather be taking him than anything else to the races.
“He’s a nice dog and a really hard chaser but you can’t get too carried away because he’s a young dog and he’s still learning. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in the next six months if he stays sound.”
By winning the Group 3 Great Chase at just his 11th start, Dr. Tucker has already surpassed the deeds of his sire Bernardo, which won 13 from 30 starts but didn’t taste Group glory, running second in the Group 1 Harrison-Dawson and seventh in the Group 2 Bendigo Cup in 2018.
McMahon is bullish about Bernardo’s stud prospects, highlighting his phenomenal dam-line, through mother Surfonic, which also produced the likes of Group winner Gilberto and Silver Chief runner-up Degani.
Grand-dam Surf Queen was the mother of Golden Easter Egg winner Don’t Knocka Him, while great grand-dam Queen Size produced Group 1 winners Size Can Matter and Made To Size.
“If Bernardo didn’t do both Achilles he would have won a lot of races,” said McMahon.
“He was always fighting injuries and wasn’t at his best when the big races came around.
“Dr. Tucker isn’t a one-off either. We’ve got some very nice young dogs by Bernardo.
“I thought this bloke’s sister; Dr. Madison’s run at Sandown last Friday was super for her second run back. She ran 29.36s getting beaten.
“Jason Thompson’s dog Aussie Secret is another one. I reckon he’ll be hard to beat in his (Ballarat) Cup heat too.”
Dr. Tucker is a $12 chance in TAB’s all-in Ballarat Cup market.