The weather gods were smiling on Jason Thompson’s quest for an unprecedented third Golden Easter Egg title when last weekend’s heats were washed out by Sydney’s big wet and rescheduled for Saturday.
Thompson, whose two Easter Egg victories came courtesy of Don’t Knocka Him in 2012 and Moreira in 2016, had only one original entrant for NSW’s most prestigious race in Aussie Secret, which was a race morning scratching before the meeting was postponed.
But the one-week delay allowed Thompson to boost his hand. Significantly.
He’ll now launch a three-pronged challenge headlined by star kennel newcomer Catch The Thief, which produced an enormous effort to finish runner-up in the Group 2 Shepparton Cup final last Saturday at just his second start for the champion Pearcedale mentor.
Thompson also added Aston Silk and Nangar Rust to his imposing Easter Egg arsenal.
“I’ll tell you on Saturday night whether it was fortunate or not,” Thompson quipped.
“The dog we originally had in the heats, Aussie Secret, slightly hurt himself and had to be scratched and the week’s delay has allowed us to have three in the heats when we weren’t going to have anything.
“If the rain hadn’t come we would have been sitting at home watching the heats.
“Obviously Catch The Thief is the main one we’re taking up.
“I’ve said all along how lucky we are to have him and I was over the moon with his run in the Shepparton Cup. Take nothing away from the winner (Ferdinand Boy) but Catch The Thief’s run was unbelievable.”
WATCH: Star speedster Catch The Thief (7) claims a G2 Shepparton Cup heat at his first start for new trainer Jason Thompson.
Catch The Thief (box 4) is joint $2.40 favourite with TAB with local Zulu Warlord (box 1) in the second of 10 heats, while he’s on the third line of betting at $12 in all-in betting.
Thompson had been contemplating a Ballarat Cup and Perth Cup campaign with Catch The Thief but he didn’t have to think twice when the Easter Egg presented itself as an option.
“Ideally for us he probably needs one more 450m to have him perfect but in saying that he’s definitely ready for 500m now,” Thompson said.
“Being a three-week series, if he is able to progress through to the final, he should be absolutely peaking on the night.
“He blew the start at Shepparton, which after having eight weeks off he’s still getting his timing right, but I couldn’t have been happier with his effort. He was only beaten a length and it wouldn’t have wanted to be much further.
“Now that we’ve got Catch The Thief you pay much closer attention than when you’re just a casual observer and watching behind the boxes at Shepparton all I could see was him looking for runs and looking for the right option, which shows you how smart he is and how good a chaser he is.
“I don’t think boxes matter with Catch The Thief. He just handles any draw. Put him in the ‘red’ and he’ll rail, put him in the middle and he’ll run straight and put him in ‘eight’ and he’ll go around them.
“And he always puts in. You know he’s going to give you everything.”
Aston Silk, a finalist in the Group 1 National Futurity at Wentworth Park in 2020, is a $10 chance in heat three, while Nangar Rust, winner of his last two starts at Ballarat over 545m and The Meadows 600m, is $7.50 in the seventh run-off.
“I’m taking the other two up purely because they’ve been to Wentworth Park before,” Thompson explained.
“One is a leader (Aston Silk) and the other (Nangar Rust) relies on luck and comes from behind but he’s probably as fast as any dog in the series on his own and is full of confidence after two good wins.”
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