Tiggerlong Tonk was the fastest qualifier for the 2020 Group 3 Healesville Cup final (350m), when beaten favourite, and Anakie trainer Correy Grenfell, 27, says his dual G1 winner is going just as well ahead of his return to the straight for Sunday’s G2 Cup heats.
The winner of 41 from 87, Tiggerlong Tonk won last year’s Cup heat in a flying 18.93sec (Best) and then started $2.50 favourite in the final when sixth to Zambora Lou.
The remarkable son of Dyna Double One and Tiggerlong Dot returns to Healesville for this first time since last year’s Cup when he exits Box 7 in the first of six heats on Sunday, Race 4 at 11.32am, with TAB installing him $1.65 favourite.
While the form guide says Tiggerlong Tonk has won two of his last three starts, that’s deceptive, because his last start ‘second’ was in the G3 Speed Star series at The Meadows last Wednesday, where he won his match race in 29.80sec but finished runner-up to Aston Rupee on overall times.
“He hasn’t lost anything,” said a bullish Grenfell.
“His will to win is just ridiculous. He hates getting beaten!
“He ran second on times in the Speed Star but he beat Aston Rupee the week before at Sandown (29.23sec).
“If he’d raced against Aston Rupee in the Speed Star, Aston Rupee would have had to get past him and I don’t know if that would have happened.
“When he won his heat at Healesville last year it was his first look at the track. He drew the ‘red’ in the final but wanted to shift off and got into trouble. But he was still only beaten about three lengths.
“He had box eight in last year’s heat and the only difference with drawing seven on Sunday is that ‘the eight’ (Dr. Ryker) has a lot of early speed. But as long as it doesn’t get us and we don’t get it I expect him to do what he does best!”
Grenfell and wife Samantha will have runners in each of Sunday’s six heats, with Yozo Bale, winner of last year’s G2 Bendigo and G2 Ballarat Cup, an $8 chance in heat three.
WATCH: Tiggerlong Tonk (8) sets the pace in the heats of the 2020 Healesville Cup, clocking a scorching 18.93sec.
“He’s not at his best but he isn’t far off it,” Grenfell said.
“He hasn’t been getting much luck in his races. He’s missed the kick a couple of times and he’s also had trouble with his hock, which has been an ongoing issue since he won the Bendigo Cup (July 2020).
“He’s going in on the fresh side and seems to fire up when these country cups come around.”
The other Grenfell runners are litter brothers Xavien Bale (Heat 2) and Usman Bale (Heat 5) and litter sisters Vayda Bale (Heat 4) and Tynslee Bale (Heat 6), which are all double figures in betting.
“They’re up-and-comers and have plenty of ability,” Grenfell said.
“The downfall is that apart from Vayda Bale it’s their first look at Healesville.
“Vayda Bale and Tynslee Bale are faultless beginners generally and that’s why they’re there. Vayda Bale ran 4.95sec early at Sandown two starts ago.
“Usman Bale has been a little bit frustrating because I know how much ability he’s got but he’s still only young. He had eight weeks off with a chipped hock after the Winter Cup final at Cranbourne.”
In exciting news for breeders, Grenfell said limited Tiggerlong Tonk straws will soon be available but testing the stud waters won’t detract from the 11-time G1 finalist’s remaining racetrack ambitions.
“All going well, he’ll race on until the Melbourne Cup,” Grenfell said.
“The plan is to draw from him a couple of times and then get him back for the big races on the calendar later in the year.”
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