It’s been said – and proven – on countless occasions that box draws are absolutely everything in big races.
Nobody is more aware of that fact than young Anakie trainer Correy Grenfell, 27, who has his fingers crossed star sprinter Tiggerlong Tonk can overcome another nightmare draw in Saturday night’s Perth Cup final to break his Group 1 hoodoo.
Tiggerlong Tonk is lining up in his 10th G1 event, having finished in the minor placings on five occasions, but his horror run of feature race alleys has continued, with the son of 2015 G1 Melbourne Cup and G3 Perth Cup Consolation winner Dyna Double One to exit box four.
In his nine previous appearances at G1 level, the closest Tiggerlong Tonk has drawn to the rails has been one start from box three, in the Temlee invitational earlier this year, where he ran a close third to NSW’s Wow.
“It’s nasty,” Grenfell said ruefully.
“The two (Star Book) wants off straight out of the boxes and there’s a lot of speed on his outside in five (Withers Monelli), six (Canya Cruise) and seven (Sir Monty), so he’ll need to bring his ‘A’ game if he’s going to avoid them.
“You’re running against the best as it is so it doesn’t help at all.
“I’ll know his fate in the first five metres. If he avoids the two it’s game on. What happens with the two will tell his story.”
Tiggerlong Tonk made his Cannington debut in the Cup Prelude, when run down in the final bounds, and was then an impressive all-the-way heat winner from box four last Saturday, clocking 29.62sec, the second fastest qualifying effort.
He’ll again have to contend with the ‘blue’ in the $150,000 to-the-winner Cup final, with TAB marking him on the third line of betting at $5, behind rails runner Rippin’ Memphis ($2.80) and fastest heat winner Canya Cruise ($3).
“He’s definitely a chance. On paper and experience he’s the best dog in the field,” Grenfell said.
“He did everything he needed to do last week.
“He probably runs in the 29.50s if his race was mid-meeting and not race one because the track gets quicker as the night goes on.
“This is the third week of the series for him (including the Prelude) and he’ll be better for the two 500s but he’s had a fairly light preparation so he’ll still be pretty fresh.
“When I box him I think I’ll just blink and see where he is when I open my eyes. If he’s within a length or two on the first corner they’re going to feel him.”
Grenfell is taking aim at his second Perth Cup victory in three years, having celebrated the first Group 1 success of his burgeoning career when Orson Allen won the race in 2019, en route to being named Australian Greyhound of the Year.
“I think Orson Allen only missed the start twice in his life and once was in the Melbourne Cup heats,” Grenfell said.
“Orson was a lid-pinger whereas even if Tiggerlong Tonk does come out well he musters and takes two or three strides to hit his peak.”
Tiggerlong Tonk has been based with Steve and Kira Withers during his WA campaign and Grenfell, who is flying out to Perth on Friday, is hoping some of Tommy Shelby’s G1 Golden Easter Egg magic may have rubbed off.
“I’ll be getting Tommy Shelby to have a chat to him!” Grenfell quipped.
The Perth Cup is Race 6 at Cannington on Saturday night, to jump at 10.52pm AEST.
Tiggerlong Tonk’s Group 1 box draw woes
|2019 Hobart Thousand||Box 7||Fifth|
|2020 Silver Chief||Box 6||Third|
|2020 Harrison-Dawson||Box 6||Third|
|2020 Maturity Classic||Box 4||Third|
|2020 Topgun||Box 5||Sixth|
|2020 Melbourne Cup||Box 8||Fourth|
|2020 Hobart Thousand||Box 5||Second|
|2021 Temlee||Box 3||Third|
|2021 Australian Cup||Box 7||Sixth|
|2021 Perth Cup||Box 4||???|
WATCH: Star Victorian speedster Tiggerlong Tonk (4) claims a G1 Perth Cup heat in a flashy 29.62sec at Cannington last week.
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