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Azzopardi’s ‘cool’ chance

A kaleidoscope of stars descends upon Wannon Park for eight heats of the Group 2 Macey’s Bistro Warrnambool Cup (450m) on Thursday night.

The high-class sprint legion comprises four G2 provincial cup winners – including three-time ‘country cups king’ Ferdinand Boy (Shepparton, Ballarat and Healesville – all in 2021) and a dual victor, Typhoon Sammy (Traralgon and Horsham – both in 2022).

There are also three G1 runners-up – Compliance (also a recent G2 Ballarat Cup winner), Fernando Mick and Slingshot Jonesy – plus a host of G1 finalists.

But champion Rowsley-based trainer Anthony Azzopardi is advising punters not to let ‘forgotten’ dog McCooly’s Lad, which has won 11 races from 24 starts, fly under the radar.

Azzopardi is hoping either McCooly’s Lad or the in-form Substantial can ultimately supply him with his second Warrnambool Cup. He won the race with Zambora Brockie in 2016.

Substantial ($7.50) is on the third line of TAB’s ‘All In’ betting – behind Typhoon Sammy ($4.50), Compliance ($5.00) and Ferdinand Boy ($5.00) – while McCooly’s Lad ($34.00) is at a ‘juicy’ quote.

Meanwhile, McCooly’s Lad is $4.40 in Heat 1 (Race 3, Box 6 – 7.49pm), while Substantial is $2.50F in Heat 6 (Race 8, Box 5 – 9.36pm).

The superbly bred McCooly’s Lad (Feb ’19 Fernando Bale x Tatty Fields) burst onto the racing scene as the “next big thing” winning a GRV Vic Bred Maiden at Bendigo (500m) in late 2020. And better was to come two starts later when he clocked a stunning 29.09sec over 515m at Sandown Park.

However, his burgeoning career was placed in serious jeopardy not long after when he broke a hock while trialling. He underwent surgery involving the insertion of two screws.

But he made an inspirational return nine months later in what Azzopardi described as the “highlight of my career”. He won a heat (27.35sec) and final (26.95sec) of a GRV Vic Bred Grade Five Series (485m), defeating Aston Ulysses on both occasions – at Horsham.

“He’s such a smart dog and all I ask for is a clear run to the first turn.”

McCooly’s Lad has since finished third to Aston Rupee in last year’s G3 Shootout, and this year was runner-up to Jungle Deuce in the G2 Golden Sands and seventh to Jarick Bale in the G1 Rookie Rebel.

But he hasn’t been sighted in a race since spraining a hock and finishing sixth to Billy Creek in a Country Classic heat at Dubbo on March 4.

However, Azzopardi was buoyed by a Geelong trial (460m) on April 19 when McCooly’s Lad clocked a smart 25.66sec.

I was very happy. He had good sections, including a 14.20sec ‘run-home’. He was strong late.

“And he pulled up well. Everything is going according to plan.”

Click HERE  for TAB’s ‘All In’ Warrnambool Cup market

Azzopardi added McCooly’s Lad was “nice and fresh” but is concerned about the “bad draw” (Box 6).

“However, he’s such a smart dog and all I ask for is a clear run to the first turn.

“He’s been trialling every bit as good as Substantial, and he’s certainly over the odds at $34 in pre-post betting.”

Azzopardi was also full of praise for G2 Shepparton Cup winner Substantial. More recently, he’s finished third in both the G2 Ballarat Cup and G2 Geelong Cup.

Substantial (Aug ’19 Barcia Bale x On The Runway) has also won 12 races from 33 starts, including a flying 24.86sec PB at Warrnambool.

WATCH: ‘Comeback kid’ MCCOOLY’S LAD (4) was being hailed the “next big thing” after a scintillating 29.09sec win at Sandown Park on October 22, 2020.

“I’m over the moon with him; he’s airborne at the moment. And he loves Warrnambool.

“He’s trying to find the gaps and just has that will to win.”

Azzopardi concedes he’s also worried about Substantial’s draw (Box 5).

“However, he’s probably best suited on a one-track. He has that explosive pace once he hits the ground.

“If Substantial and McCooly’s Lad had drawn the ‘red’ (Box 1), I would have declared them.”

Pawnote: The Group 2 Warrnambool Cup final (450m) – the fourth and final leg of the Western Festival of Racing – carries a $47,000 first prize and will be decided on Wednesday, May 4.

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

About Peter Quilty - Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.
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