Can Aston Ulysses resist the ‘Sirens’ in tonight’s Group 2 Golden Sands final (600m) at Albion Park?
That’s the ‘$75,000 question’ as the versatile Victorian, trained by Paul Abela, chases his first ‘black type’ win at his third attempt.
He was a finalist in the G3 Sir John Dillon Memorial (595m) at Sandown Park and G3 Wentworth Park Gold Cup (720m).
Aston Ulysses (Box 6) and counterpart McCooly’s Lad (Box 8), prepared by Anthony Azzopardi, are attempting to give the Vics back-to-back Golden Sands wins.
Mepunga Isla, trained by Adam Richardson, won last year’s event.
In last week’s heats, NSW star Jungle Deuce clocked a stunning 34.52sec – only 1.5 lengths off the track record. Aston Ulysses took out his heat in 34.92sec – almost 7 lengths slower – while McCooly’s Lad finished second, beaten 1.5 lengths, to We The People in 35.00sec.
“He’s well put together. He’s a big boy (37kg), a cracking type.”
Subsequently, Jungle Deuce dominates TAB’s fixed odds market at $1.65, with McCooly’s Lad firming from $12 into $8 and Aston Ulysses drifting from $10 out to $12.
However, Abela remains quietly optimistic about the chances of Aston Ulysses – a son of four-time G1-winning ‘staying sweetheart’ Sweet It Is – declaring him “a good each-way bet”.
“We expect him to improve, and he’ll be up in the firing line, but Jungle Deuce has a lot on us. I think it’s Jungle Deuce’s race to lose.”
Abela added that Aston Ulysses has been “a real surprise packet”.
“He didn’t break-in all that well. In fact, he was the slowest of the litter.
“But now he’s a beauty; I wish I had a kennel full like him. He’s well put together. He’s a big boy (37kg), a cracking type.
G2 GOLDEN SANDS (600m)
Thursday, Race 8, 9.58pm
1 SEE THEM TRY (Selena Zammit, Willow Vale QLD)
2 JUNGLE DEUCE (Raymond Smith, Forbes NSW)
3 MAGIC PRINCE (Raymond Burman, Park Ridge QLD)
4 WE THE PEOPLE (Selena Zammit, Willow Vale QLD)
5 EXTRA MALT (Leanne Hall, Marberg QLD)
6 ASTON ULYSSES (Paul Abela, Parwan VIC)
7 LINE OF QUALITY (Darryl Thomas, Sawyers Gully NSW)
8 MCCOOLY’S LAD (Anthony Azzopardi, Rowsley VIC)
9 DULCERIA (Matthew Heilbronn, Raceview QLD)
10 BROCKIE MAGIC (Raymond Burman, Park Ridge QLD)
“However, I think he’s underrated by a lot of people. But what lets him down is he’s not consistent early, and that has cost him.”
Aston Ulysses has raced on 50 occasions for 17 wins, 13 seconds and 10 thirds with stakes totalling $100,635. He’s only been unplaced twice in his past 15 starts.
Back in May last year, Aston Ulysses was touted as a serious G1 Sandown Cup prospect. But his career was at the crossroads after he finished last in the Wentworth Park Gold Cup.
“His run was completely out of character,” Abela said. “But X-rays revealed he’d broken his right fibula.
“I was shattered. It took seven weeks to heal and three months to get him back to full fitness.”
However, Aston Ulysses showed he was nearing his best form last month when third in a heat to eventual G1 Sale Cup winner Jarick Bale.
McCooly’s Lad (3) records a sensational 33.82sec win over 595m at Sandown Park on December 9.
It’s looming as a big week for Abela who is buoyant about the imminent comeback of his kennel champ, Five Star, which hasn’t raced since notching a fifth successive win on October 15. He was set to trial at The Meadows today.
“He injured his right monkey muscle in preparation for the Topgun Stayers. If he pulls up well from the trial, he’ll race at The Meadows or Ballarat next week.”
And last Tuesday, Abela trained a double at Horsham – led by rising star Aston Ziebell, which clocked a sizzling 26.99sec (Best) over 485m. Aston Ziebell, a winner of four from 11, was just over 3 lengths off the 26.79sec track record, set by retired superstar Shima Shine on February 26 last year.
Meanwhile, McCooly’s Lad – also a blueblood – has made an incredible comeback after his promising career appeared curtailed after breaking a hock in a trial.
However, he’s won five of his past 10 since resuming from a nine-month hiatus in mid-August.
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A winner of 10 from 19, McCooly’s Lad showed his untapped potential clocking a flying 29.09sec (at only his sixth start) at Sandown Park on October 22, 2020.
McCooly’s Lad – which was third to Aston Rupee in last year’s G3 Shootout (515m) – has also clocked sizzling 29.11sec and 29.14sec wins over 515m at Sandown Park.
Prior to his Golden Sands campaign, McCooly’s Lad registered a slick 33.82sec win over 595m, also at Sandown Park.
His dam, Tatty Fields, is a half-sister of Nicki Fields which has produced superstars Hooked On Scotch, Poke The Bear and Out Of Range.
Pawnote: The G2 Golden Sands final – part of the 2021/22 ‘Golden Greys’ Summer Carnival – is Race 8 at 9.58pm.
Aston Ulysses (3) defeats local idol Extra Malt (8) in a G2 Golden Sands heat at Albion Park.
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