A National Championship is one of the very few G1 features to have eluded Jason Thompson over the course of his stellar training career and the ongoing impact of COVID will ensure that anomaly won’t change in 2021.
The National Sprint and Distance Championships were set to be hosted at The Meadows later this month but for the second year running Greyhound Clubs Australia, in conjunction with the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association and GRV, has cancelled the National Grand Finals.
But the Victorian Sprint series will proceed at The Meadows on Saturday night, with three heats to be staged and Thompson has two excellent chances in Equalizer (heat 1, box 1) and Catch The Thief (heat 2, box 2).
Equalizer (KC And All x Captivating) is a half-brother to Black Opium, which won the Victorian Sprint title at The Meadows in 2019 and then started favourite in the Grand Final in Perth, running sixth to WA’s Premium Share.
Equalizer hasn’t raced for a month, last seen careering away with the G1 Brisbane Cup at Albion Park on July 8, his fourth appearance at G1 level in 2021, two of which have come at The Meadows – the Silver Chief and Temlee invitational.
Chasing a fourth straight win, Equalizer, the winner of 20 from 46, has an excellent record at The Meadows, winning six from 10, while he’s also won four of seven career starts from box one.
“He had a very minor setback and had to be scratched from The Meadows two weeks ago,” Thompson explained.
“But he’s fit and well, has a good draw, small field and he likes The Meadows, so he’s got a few things in his favour.
“He did miss ten days without a run but I wouldn’t think that will be an issue.
“He’d been up for a long time so it’s probably better for him to have had four weeks off and be going in a bit underdone, especially with what’s ahead after this race.
WATCH: Equalizer (4) careers away with the G1 Brisbane Cup at Albion Park on July 8.
“He has shown on occasions that he can begin off ‘the red’ and being nice and fresh I can definitely see him being right up there. He’ll get straight on the rail and drive hard and we’re hoping he might be leading around the first corner.”
In heat two, Thompson has Catch The Thief drawn in box two, coming off a confidence-boosting near-record win at Sale over 520m at his most recent start.
“It was a nice win at Sale but he’s racing a different class of dog on Saturday night,” said Thompson.
“I think he’s drawn well and having a vacant box on his outside won’t hurt either. The only worry is that his record at The Meadows isn’t as good as it is at Sandown.”
Also on Saturday night, Thompson has the fastest qualifier for the G3 Warragul St. Leger final (460m) in Aston Fastnet.
Aston Fastnet bounced back immediately after blowing the start in the G1 Maturity Classic to win his St. Leger heat in 25.39sec, his second win from three starts at Warragul and tenth from 22 overall.
Drawn in box eight, as was the case in the Maturity, Aston Fastnet shares the second line of betting in TAB’s market at $4.60 with Maturity heroine Qwara Bale, with Koblenz $2.30 favourite.
“I really like him on Saturday,” said Thompson.
“He will run straight from box eight. I’m 100 per cent confident of that, especially on a half-circle track. Box eight at Warragul is completely different to box eight at The Meadows.
“He’s not slow early – I don’t know what happened at The Meadows in the Maturity – and if he begins safely, like he normally does, I’d like to think he’d be running third going around the first corner.
“There’s so much speed in the race, I can see there being a lot of tightening.
“He has a good record at Warragul – he’s run two really good times there – and I expect him to be very competitive.”
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