Owner/breeders Neville Loechel and Jeff Weber are dreaming of back-to-back victories in the Group 1 Gold 98.3 FM Sale Cup (650m) on Boxing Day.
The long-time South Australian farming friends raced 2019 Sale Cup winner Weblec Eagle, which was trained by Matt Lanigan, and this year their hopes rest with close relation Weblec Ace, prepared by Jeff Britton.
“I don’t want to be greedy,” laughed 68-year-old Loechel.
Weblec Ace entered uncharted territory when he stepped up to 650m for the first time in last weekend’s Sale Cup heats, where he started $1.90 favourite and led until the shadows of the post when run down by Bobby The Brute in 37.13s.
WATCH: Weblec Ace (B7) finish second to Bobby The Brute (B3) in their Sale Cup heat.
“That was his first go over the distance and if it hasn’t flattened him hopefully he’ll improve this week,” Loechel said.
“After he won the (Group 3) Sir John Dillon Memorial over 595m on Melbourne Cup night Jeff Britton asked if I reckoned he’ll get the extra 50m at Sale and I said he was still chasing pretty hard at the end.
“The difference between Weblec Ace and Weblec Eagle is that Ace is more of a sprinter-type and Eagle was really seasoned for the race last year.”
As was the case in the heats, Weblec Ace will exit box seven in the $75,000 to-the-winner Cup Final, with TAB marking him at $12.
“He’s a lot better in one, two or three because he rails so well but he had seven in the heat and these staying-type dogs aren’t as quick as the sprinters he’s been racing against.”
Weblec Ace’s tilt at Group 1 glory is all the more remarkable after he was involved in a potentially fatal accident at Loechel’s property when recovering from a torn back muscle suffered in last year’s Ballarat Cup heats.
“I had him back here for some rehabilitation and he ran into a small tree and speared his shoulder,” Loechel explained.
“He severed a vein and was bleeding terribly. It really scared me.
“He probably missed the best part of his racing career because of it but I can’t believe what he’s done since he’s come back.”
Loechel and Weber have enjoyed a wonderful ride since their fateful decision to purchase two female pups that raced successfully as Weblec Belle and Weblec Rose and then became the mothers of Weblec Eagle and Weblec Ace respectively.
“It’s changed our lives,” said Loechel.
“We didn’t have any dogs for a while and we actually ordered Weblec Belle and Weblec Rose before their mother (Snow Excuse) whelped them. They were the last two left in the litter as well.
“We didn’t know Jeff Britton or Angela Langton before but we get our dogs broken in at Kevin McNamara’s and he told us they were good enough to race in Victoria and recommended Angela as a trainer. It all snowballed from there.
“Between the two mothers and their 40-odd offspring we’ve worked out that they’ve won around $1.2 million in prizemoney. Putting that in perspective, Weblec Belle won $263,000 and Weblec Rose won $40,000.
“Jeff (Weber) often says it’s not about the money, it’s about the fun, but it’s a lot more fun when we’re winning the money!”