Glenn Rounds is optimistic classy sprinter Aeroplane Eric can put an injury-ruined 2020 behind him when he exits box one in Saturday night’s Group 2 Evans Petroleum Warragul Cup Final (460m).
In aviation parlance, this Aeroplane barely left the tarmac last year before being grounded.
Injury has restricted Aeroplane Eric to only four starts since contesting the Group 2 WA Derby Final last May but after chasing home record-breaking heat winner Shima Shine he’s TAB’s $5 second elect to start the New Year in the best possible fashion.
“He’s broken a stopper bone twice,” explained Devon Meadows-based Rounds.
“He’s done a superb job to come back and do what he’s doing after what he’s been through.
“He limped home after the WA Derby, we nursed him back and he won at Shepparton and the next day he was lame as a duck. He’d done it again.
“It’s hard to say he’s lost lengths when he’s run 25.38s at Warragul but what he has lost is time. Time off his career.
“He’s a fast animal and at the moment he’s going good. If he could have a good year we’d be very happy with that.”
Touch wood, Rounds has been able to get three successive runs out of Aeroplane Eric since resuming from his second lengthy stint on the sidelines on December 17.
After fast wins at Warrnambool and Warragul, Aeroplane Eric ran second in last Friday’s third Cup heat to new track record-holder Shima Shine, beaten 3.5 lengths in 25.19s, which smashed the previous mark of 25.34s.
WATCH: Aeroplane Eric (B4) finish second to Shima Shine (B8) in the third Warragul Cup heat in a stunning track record performance.
The winner of nine of his 18 starts, including four from five at Warragul, the son of Knocka Norris and Lonesome Jett will wear the red vest for the first time in the Cup Final, with $1.75 favourite Shima Shine drawn in six.
“The dog is a big chance and I think he deserves it,” Rounds said.
“He’s never had the red before. He’s actually had a very poor run of boxes. If we’ve got the red we’ve stopped anybody else from having it. We need to use it now.
“Shima Shine would be the one to beat. He likes to be out wide and six isn’t too far away from the eight. It just depends what the dogs on his outside do.”
While Aeroplane Eric played second fiddle to Shima Shine, Rounds got one back over Team Dailly in heat five when Amarillo Highway edged out Jax Bale, clocking 25.59s, his third victory from his last four starts after returning from a stint in NSW.
WATCH: Amarillo Highway win his Warragul Cup heat over Jax Bale from box one.
Like his kennelmate, Amarillo Highway boasts impressive statistics at Warragul, where he’s won four from six, but after drawing box four, he’s a $17 outsider for his Group race debut.
“I thought we’d been beaten by Jax Bale so I was a bit surprised when he got the nod of the head in his heat,” said Rounds.
“He’s very strong and he’s chasing well again now.
“He went up to NSW with Waging War for the Million Dollar Chase. Waging War did well but Amarillo Highway was a bit hot and cold. But he’s been going really well since he came back.
“He’s not quite up to the quality of some of the top dogs in the final but he’s capable of running fast time.
“Of my two, Aeroplane Eric is the best chance but both dogs go well at Warragul. They’ve done a lot of galloping there and they do like the place.”