Highly decorated Pearcedale trainer Jason Thompson is chasing his fourth Group 2 Horsham Cup on Saturday night.
He’s won the prestigious country feature race with Monsters Inc (2003), Marungi Blaze (2006) and Winsome History (2007).
Thompson has also had the following Horsham Cup placegetters – 2009 Hanify’s Impact (2nd), 2010 Hot Price (3rd), 2012 Don’t Knocka Him (2nd) and 2014 Innocent Til (2nd).
However, he’s been in the sport long enough to know you have to be a realist.
Both produced courageous efforts when second in their respective heat last week.
“He would have to do something radically wrong to lose the final.”
But it was on a day when superstar Shima Shine smashed the 485-metre track record, clocking a scintillating 26.79sec.
“He (Shima Shine) is probably the best dog in Australia,” Thompson said. “You have to be realistic; he would have to do something radically wrong to lose the final.”
No arguments there as dual G1 winner Shima Shine was simply sensational securing his third track record. He’s now TAB’s $1.50 favourite for the final.
But Thompson was still full of praise for his two finalists.
A winner of 16 races from 31 starts, Aussie Secret was gallant when defeated only 0.8L by Jim Zarr Dashian in 27.11sec in Heat 4.
“He was feeling the pinch over the last 25 metres – 460 metres probably sees him out … And his box draw in the final is not ideal, he needs middle to wide,” Thompson said.
“Plus, Shima Shine has no weak links… Aussie Secret needs quite a bit of luck to win.”
Meanwhile, ‘star-spangled’ Mr. America – the youngest finalist and a winner of eight races from only 13 starts – pushed Shima Shine for the best part of Heat 5.
Mr. America matched strides with Shima Shine for the first 350 metres, which was a fantastic effort considering it was track record-breaking pace. In the end, he was 4.1L in arrears but his overall time of 27.08sec was the second fastest of all the heat runners.
“I thought his run for a 23-month-old dog was not only exceptional but brave… To get beat by Shima Shine was no disgrace. He was just too strong,” Thompson said.
“I’m very happy with the way he’s progressing, but it’s a shame he’s drawn box four.”
Mr. America is one of the most promising young sprinters in the state. He won his first six races and was a recent finalist in the Listed Western Districts Derby.
And Aussie Secret is a model of consistency with a 52 per cent winning strike rate. He was a recent finalist in the G1 Silver Chief (525m) at The Meadows.
However, the way their box draws have panned out, Thompson says, “I don’t think they can run a place”. “They’ve drawn inside out and I’m just hoping they get around safely.”
The G2 CHS Group Horsham Cup (485m) is Race 7 at 9.19pm.
Pawnote: The G2 Horsham Cup is the first of four provincial group races – along with the G2 Ballarat Cup (April 9), G2 Geelong Cup (April 23) and G2 Warrnambool Cup (May 5) – included in the 2021 Western Festival of Racing, with more than $700,000 in prizemoney to be distributed.
WATCH: SHIMA SHINE (2) eventually breaks away from a persistent MR. AMERICA (1) before clocking a track record 26.79sec in his heat.
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