Saturday night was a ‘tale of two racetracks’ for champion trainer Jason Thompson.
Borrowing further from Charles Dickens and his classic novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’; it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Thompson had three runners at Warragul and all three were victorious, with the highlight being Aston Fastnet’s breakthrough feature race triumph in the G3 St Leger final (460m), while boom youngster Rebellious and super-consistent Aussie Secret completed a treble.
Thompson also had three starters at The Meadows; however his two-pronged tilt at the Victorian National Sprint Championship with star duo Equalizer and Catch The Thief ended in disaster.
Coming off a runaway last start victory in the G1 Brisbane Cup, Equalizer started $1.50 from box one in the first of three heats but could only finish fifth in a six-greyhound field.
It was an even worse outcome for Catch The Thief, the $1.80 favourite in heat two, which went amiss shortly after box-rise and was later found to have sustained a career-ending back muscle injury.
Underlining the highs and lows of the racing game, only seven minutes after the bitter disappointment of Catch The Thief breaking down, Aston Fastnet put a star-studded field to the sword in the $25,000 to-the-winner St Leger.
“I was at Warragul and watched Catch The Thief’s race before we went out for the final,” Thompson explained.
“I knew he’d broken down obviously and after that happened I thought we were a million to one to win the St Leger. You think your luck’s out but Aston Fastnet was able to win and I was rapt with his run.
“Unfortunately Catch The Thief tore his back muscle pretty badly. It’s been looked at this morning (Monday) and he won’t race again, which is a shame. He was a really good dog in the time that we had him.
“That’s what racing is about I suppose. You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” he added philosophically.
Catch The Thief retires having won 25 of his 55 starts.
He contested four G1 events, finishing second in both the Harrison-Dawson and Adelaide Cup, while he won the G2 WA Derby in 2020 and banked $258,185 in prizemoney.
Thompson did manage to salvage something with emerging stayer Major Sacrifice leading all-the-way over 725m, his fourth win from his last five starts.
WATCH: Aston Fastnet (8) storms home to claim his first Group trophy in the G3 Warragul St Leger final on Saturday night, defeating favourite Koblenz (2).
“We haven’t had a stayer for a while and while he’s no world beater if he keeps improving with another three or four 700s under his belt I think he can be competitive in the better races later in the year,” Thompson offered.
Thompson’s misfortune at The Meadows was balanced by a perfect three from three haul at Warragul, headlined by Aston Fastnet finishing over the top of fellow superstars Koblenz and Qwara Bale to win the St Leger in 25.68sec, his 11th win from 23 starts.
The Group race specialist believes the time is right to step Rebellious up to 500m after the excitement machine continued the phenomenal start to his career, coming from behind to beat Mepunga Reject in a BON 25.58sec, his 11th win from 14 starts.
“Aston Fastnet handled ‘the eight’ really well, which I knew he would,” Thompson said.
“The most pleasing thing was that was the first time he’s gone around other dogs like he did when he was three-wide turning for home. He’s always been a very fast dog and now he’s becoming a very good race dog.
“He’ll go to the (G3) Cranbourne Classic heats on Friday. It follows on perfectly from Warragul and he’s only had one start at Cranbourne, I didn’t even trial him there, and he ran 29.69sec.
“Rebellious didn’t ping the lids but it was really good to see him chase down a quality dog in Mepunga Reject and run away from him at the end.
“I think it’s the right time to step him up to 500m now. Hopefully he’ll lead more times than he doesn’t, but he’s shown he doesn’t have to lead to win.”
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