Leading local trainer Bill McMahon hopes to leave an injury-interrupted 2021 in the rear-view mirror when hometown hero Dr. Tucker makes his eagerly-anticipated return in Sunday night’s Sale Sprint Championship (440m) heats.
Dr. Tucker (pictured above after winning Healesville’s Winter Cup in July) started his career with a bang, winning nine of his first 12 starts, including the Group 3 Great Chase at The Meadows 11 months ago.
However, the son of McMahon’s former gun sprinter Bernardo has been restricted to just 10 starts this year, of which he’s won seven and finished second twice, due to a combination of injury and illness.
The winner of 16 from 26, Dr. Tucker missed the first four months of the year due to a fractured hock but returned with a bang, winning Healesville’s Winter Cup final and running a close second to superstar Ferdinand Boy in the inaugural Horizon on his home track.
Frustratingly for Darriman-based McMahon, Dr. Tucker was then forced to the sidelines again, firstly by a strained ligament and then a virus.
McMahon had initially targeted the Arrow match race series at Healesville in the lead-up to the recent G2 Cup series for Dr. Tucker’s comeback but decided to err on the side of caution.
He then shifted his focus to Sunday’s Sprint Championship heats, where Dr. Tucker is one of the headline acts, along with Ferdinand Boy and Aussie Secret.
“We’ve had a bit of bad luck with him but a lot of good luck too – he’s won over $100,000!” McMahon said.
“But it would’ve been nice to see him in the Arrow and Healesville Cup!”
With Dr. Tucker leading the charge, McMahon boasts a strong representation in the heats, having two runners in each of the three run-offs.
WATCH: Dr. Tucker (7) hasn’t raced since a runaway 9-length 29.48sec victory at Sandown Park July 15.
Dr. Tucker (Box 5) will clash with Dr. Knuckles (Box 1) in the final heat, with Dr. Knuckles having won three on end at Cranbourne over 311m before a luckless fourth as $1.60 favourite there on Wednesday afternoon.
Dr. Madison (Box 4) and Inuka (Box 7) will face David Geall’s three-time country cups winner Ferdinand Boy in the first run-off.
Dr. Mumma (Box 4) and Sweet Demi (Box 5) take on Jason Thompson’s multiple Group finalist Aussie Secret (Box 1) and another local ace in Barry Harper’s Omega Dodge (Box 8), winner of his last five at Sale, in the second qualifier.
“Aussie Secret just wins; he’s by Bernardo too!” McMahon laughed.
“With my other runners, Dr. Knuckles excels at Sale – he’ll run his 24.70sec off ‘the red’ and might be hard for Dr. Tucker to beat at this stage – and so does Inuka.
“Dr. Madison had a good win at Warragul on Tuesday, but while she’s been going okay she’s better than she’s showing at the moment.
“Dr. Mumma won really well at Warragul on Tuesday too. She ran 6.44sec early and they don’t go much quicker than that.”
McMahon is also excited about the prospects of the lightly-raced Dr. Slats, another son of Bernardo, in race 2 on Sunday, the TAB Venue Mode Final (440m), after he claimed his third win from five starts with a flying 24.59sec heat win.
“He’s a very nice little dog. I’ve got a big rap on him,” said McMahon.
“He only went one hundredth outside what Rebellious ran last Sunday.
“I’m in two minds where to head with him next; whether to go to the heats of the Great Chase at Sale or the Bendigo Cup heats. I’ve already put him in the Healesville Cup heats and I think he might be better suited in the Bendigo Cup heats.”
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