To say Jason Thompson has an affinity with the Group 2 Macey’s Bistro Warrnambool Cup (450m) would be a massive understatement.
The champion Pearcedale trainer boasts five Cup victories, courtesy of El Galo (2008), Hanify’s Impact (2009), Ronan Izmir (2013), Black Magic Opal (2014) and last year with Zambora Smokey.
With four frontline contenders in Thursday night’s heats – (in heat order) Catch The Thief, Zambora Lou, Equalizer and Aussie Secret – Thompson is striving to add to his impressive Warrnambool Cup collection and go back-to-back for the third time.
“We’ve had a bit of luck down there but the heats are very strong,” Thompson said.
“There’s eight heats for a start, which has been a rarity, and I don’t think anyone is missing. They’re all there!”
WATCH: Catch The Thief (7) produces a powerhouse Shepparton Cup heat win on March 15.
Catch The Thief (Heat 1, Box 6) – $2 with TAB
Last year’s G2 WA Derby and G3 Warragul St Leger winner debuted for Thompson in the G2 Shepparton Cup series in March, winning his heat and running second to Ferdinand Boy in the final.
He then ventured to Sydney for the Golden Easter Egg heats where he started favourite but was injured and hasn’t been seen in action since.
Thompson says: “He tore a muscle sheath up high in his back muscle. It’s not an ideal injury but it wasn’t as bad as we thought it might have been. It’ll be just under five weeks since he’s raced but he didn’t lose a lot of fitness. He runs in the middle of the track so he’s drawn alright in six, especially with a vacant box in five. He will need the run but I expect him to be very competitive. He doesn’t know how not to try.”
Zambora Lou (Heat 3, Box 6) – $7.50
Last year’s G3 Healesville Cup victor is striving to follow in the footsteps of litter brother Zambora Smokey, which defeated ill-fated champion Simon Told Helen in last year’s Warrnambool Cup decider, in what would be a remarkable family double.
Thompson says: “He’s won a Healesville Cup, so he’s a capable dog. Don’t worry about what his form says, he’s going really well. He was definitely going to win at Warragul last start before he got poleaxed on the first corner. Even though Shima Shine is in his heat, I give him some sort of a chance at good odds. He’s had five runs back now after having two or three months off and he’s not there to make up the numbers. I don’t mind him each-way.”
Equalizer (Heat 4, Box 8) – $1.55
Dual Group 1 finalist and runner-up in both the Cranbourne and Warragul Cups this year. Dropping back in distance but has been airborne in winning his last three starts; a near-record 30.34sec effort over 545m at Ballarat, followed by runaway Best Of Night displays at The Meadows, clocking 29.74sec and 29.80sec respectively.
Thompson says: “He’s going really good but I think back to 450m he’ll need quite a bit of luck because of his racing habits of coming out average and working his way through the field. I’ve put him in to help keep him sharp but while it’s a bit short for him Warrnambool is a track where you can come from behind and win. After the Australian Cup series he had some bad luck and lost a bit of confidence but starting with winning the Match Race at Shepparton he’s won four of his last six now.”
Aussie Secret (Heat 8, Box 1) – $3.70
Looking to qualify for his third country cup final in 2021 after finishing unplaced at Ballarat and Horsham and the winner of four of six career starts from box one.
Thompson says: “He does want wide but he can handle box one on a half-circle. The only time he’s missed a place off the ‘red’ was in the Ballarat Cup when he ran fourth. He’s only had one start at Warrnambool and broke 25 seconds (24.93sec). He needs to lead to be a chance of winning but he’s been in these races for the last six months and he’s a good chance.”
While Equalizer is the shortest of Thompson’s Cup contenders in ‘All In’ betting at $6.50, ahead of Catch The Thief ($8), Aussie Secret ($18) and Zambora Lou ($51), Thompson rates Catch The Thief as his best chance of snaring a heat.
“I wouldn’t say Equalizer because he’s more suited to ‘500’. Probably Catch The Thief, even though he’s coming off a limited preparation, because he’s a class dog and always gives it everything.”
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