Superstar acquisition Catch The Thief is poised to give champion trainer Jason Thompson a fifth Group 2 Shepparton Cup victory on Saturday night.
Catch The Thief, a 10-time Group finalist and winner of the Group 2 WA Derby and Group 3 Warragul St Leger, is set to start favourite after an ultra-impressive debut for the powerful Thompson kennel in Monday night’s Cup heats.
Making his first appearance since the Warragul Cup final on January 16, Catch The Thief overcame an extremely limited preparation to win his heat in 25.01sec, improving his perfect Shepparton record to three from three.
“He’s in the top group of sprinters in Australia so we’re very fortunate to get him,” Jason Thompson said.
“I was very pleased with his effort because he was well, well underdone.
“The Shepparton Cup wasn’t on the radar at all. He came to us coming off an injury – just a stopper bone problem, nothing major – so we gave him some time and going into the heats he hadn’t raced for eight weeks and he’d only had three trials.
“His trials were good but he’d only had one hand-slip, one short trial and a 385m at Shepparton so he was coming off a very, very limited preparation.
“I spoke to his owners and he’s going to be three in May and with his ability I don’t see any point in trialling him. He might as well race because good dogs, like he is, can overcome setbacks or adversity. That’s why they’re good dogs.
“We knew he needed the run in the heats so we were just hoping he would get through and derive plenty of benefit from the run.”
In his return to racing, Catch The Thief ($2.60) was shaded for favouritism in his Cup heat by boom Tasmanian Wynburn Sheean ($2.50), which had sensationally broken the course record in a preparatory trial.
Catch The Thief began only fairly from box seven but recovered and crossed to the front, cutting off Wynburn Sheean, and raced clear to score in impressive fashion, his 21st win from 42 starts.
After drawing favourably in box two, from where he’s won five from nine overall, with four minor placings, TAB has installed Catch The Thief as $3.30 favourite for the Cup final.
“He pulled up beautiful and I’m happy with the draw,” Thompson said.
“He blew the start pretty badly for him in the heats but he hadn’t raced for quite a while and I’m pretty confident you won’t see him begin like that again in the final.
“There’s a fair bit of speed in the race and I’d much rather see him drawn underneath them.
“I think he’s got a great chance. He’s a great race dog, he always gives his all and he’s been in races like this his whole life.”
Thompson is contemplating a trip to WA, with Catch The Thief having won both the WA Derby and Listed Winter Cup last year, beating local hero Tommy Shelby on both occasions.
“The Ballarat Cup heats are on a fortnight from Monday (April 5) and all going well he’ll head to Ballarat next and then he could possibly go over to Perth for the Perth Cup because he’s had five starts at Cannington for five wins.”
Thompson’s previous Shepparton Cup wins came with Head Honcho (1993), Whisky Assassin (2004), Hanify’s Impact (2008) and Aston Bolero (2016).
In Sydney on Saturday night, Thompson has Aussie Secret lining up in the opening heat of the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg, where he’s a $7 chance.
WATCH: Catch The Thief (7) resumes after a two-month spell with a sensational G2 Shepparton Cup heat win.
The content on this page was accurate at the time of publishing. If you notice any inaccurate content on this page or anywhere on the website, please report it here