Less than a year after taking out his trainer’s license, newcomer Paul Brown is poised to celebrate a dream feature race breakthrough in Monday night’s $37,250 Group 3 Northern Districts Cup Final (450m) at Shepparton.
Brown won two of Thursday afternoon’s three Cup heats, courtesy of promising litter brothers Hot Scotch (25.08sec Best) and Rejuvenate (25.14sec).
The third heat went to Stealth, trained by Jason Thompson, in 25.28sec.
The Northern Districts Cup – race 8 at 9.24pm – is restricted to sprinters with no city wins, less than $25,000 in prizemoney and at least two starts at Shepparton.
“Rejuvenate has got at least three lengths on Hot Scotch, but Hot Scotch has got the pace early.”
Boom prospect Rejuvenate has emerged as one of Victoria’s – if not Australia’s – most exciting talents in winning seven of his nine starts, with his two defeats both seconds, while Hot Scotch has won seven from 14.
The duo, which will turn two later this month, are sons of dual G1 winner Hooked On Scotch and Zall Good, bred by Brown’s parents, Ian and Maureen.
Rejuvenate burst onto the scene at Shepparton in August when recording near-record 21.42sec and 21.41sec victories over 400m at his first two starts, less than two lengths outside 2021 Northern Districts Cup winner Aston Flame’s 21.30sec benchmark.
Both were commanding heat winners; Rejuvenate started $1.10 and overcame a poor start in a runaway 5.8 length victory, while in contrast, Hot Scotch ($3.50) led all-the-way in his 6.9 length win.
WATCH: Rising star REJUVENATE (B2) claimed his seventh win from nine starts when recovering from a poor start to win his heat of the Group 3 Northern Districts Cup (450m), clocking 25.14sec.
“I took holidays from work for this race, but then it was postponed because of the rain, so I had to extend my holidays for another week,” Brown explained.
“With the series being put back, I had to take them somewhere else, so we went to Geelong. I couldn’t go to the city because of the conditions of the race.
“I gave them a freshen-up after Geelong and they were probably one run short going into the heats, but they had ability on their side, so I thought they would run well.”
While Hot Scotch claimed qualifying honours, form expert The Watchdog has rated Rejuvenate $1.30 favourite for the $25,000 to-the-winner final, despite an awkward Box 4 draw.
At $6 from Box 2, Hot Scotch is the only other runner at single figures in The Watchdog’s assessment.
“If Hot Scotch had drawn six and Rejuvenate eight, I would’ve been confident, but it didn’t work out that way,” Brown said.
“I think Hot Scotch can nearly lead and I’m just hoping Rejuvenate gets a bit of room early.
“Rejuvenate has probably got at least three lengths on Hot Scotch, but Hot Scotch has got the pace early.
“I’d lean towards Hot Scotch because of that, but if Rejuvenate gets a bit of room and is handy, he’ll probably run Hot Scotch down.”
Brown made special mention of astute local trainer Jimmy Auld, who won the 2015 Northern Districts Cup with Soda Lad and has handled Hot Scotch in his past two Shepparton wins, as being a “huge influence and mentor”.
Capping off a memorable Thursday for the Brown family, another littermate, Top Scotch, trained by Maureen, won race 12 at Sandown Park, clocking 29.69sec to improve his record to five from 14.
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