Chasing his first Group victory, Paul Abela expects to see a vastly improved showing from promising stayer Aston Ulysses in Saturday night’s Group 3 Wentworth Park Gold Cup final (720m).
With an eye on the upcoming G1 Sandown Cup, Abela sent Aston Ulysses to Sydney for last weekend’s Gold Cup heats to test the water in elite company and the long-distance novice was well-fancied at $2.80 when third to favourite Prim And Proper.
With Aston Ulysses adapting to a new environment with caretaker trainer, two-time Million Dollar Chase winner Peter Lagogiane, and last week being his first start at what can be a tricky Wentworth Park circuit, Abela feels the $17 being offered by TAB is generous.
“He’s in with a chance; I can’t believe the price to be honest,” Abela said.
“He just had to hold out the seven (Prim And Proper) last week because he’s a dog that has to lead. He can’t cop a couple of checks and come from behind.
“Peter (Lagogiane) said he looked a bit lost. He’ll be better at his second run on the track and he’s had another week to settle in with Peter.
“He ran 42.20sec last week after checking off the leader’s heels twice, so I’m expecting him to improve.
“He’s drawn out wide in seven, which should be okay, although I’m a bit worried about the ‘pink’, Zipping Niseko, because it comes out and goes left.
“I’m hoping he begins and sits outside Prim And Proper, which has drawn box one, and he’s putting the pressure on it this week.”
Stanley Road, winner of the G1 Fanta Bale Super Stayers during the Australian Cup Carnival, is $1.90 favourite despite scraping through when finishing fourth in his heat.
Despite the winless start to Aston Ulysses’ staying career, Abela is keeping the faith and he also has another exciting prospect in Five Star, which ran a close second to middle-distance sensation Zipping Rambo over 650m on Warrnambool Cup night.
“I’ll have a two-pronged challenge on staying races, which I’m pretty excited about,” Abela said.
“Five Star is faster than Aston Ulysses. Every time I trial them Five Star goes three lengths quicker.
“I think Five Star is a more genuine stayer too. He can cop a bump and keep coming but Aston Ulysses is more a free-rolling dog. In saying that, Five Star is 28 kilos and Aston Ulysses is 37 kilos, which makes a difference.
“If Five Star had a clear run at Warrnambool I think he would’ve won. He caused the trouble but his run was still enormous.
“I’m really looking forward to getting him to 700m. There’s a 680m at Ballarat next week and then he’ll run in the Sandown Cup heats, which has been his main aim.”
Aston Ulysses is the first of two Victorian-trained ‘Aston’ greyhounds raced by leviathan owner Ray Borda chasing feature race glory in Sydney on Saturday with Aston Titan, trained by Anthony Azzopardi, lining up in the G3 Bob Payne Sprint (520m).
Like Aston Ulysses, Aston Titan ran third in his Bob Payne heat and he’s a $12 chance from box two.
The Gold Cup is Race 7 at 8.12pm, to be followed by the Bob Payne, Race 8 at 8.33pm, with both features offering a $25,000 winner’s purse.
WATCH: The staying ‘Sirens’ lure Aston Ulysses (8) to a Bendigo Stayers Cup (660m) victory on April 4.
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