After being somewhat surprisingly overlooked for a slot in The Phoenix, Topgun winner Photo Man will be at the forefront of an imposing Victorian presence in Thursday night’s heats of the Group 1 Hobart Thousand (461m).
Photo Man, trained by Gavin Clifton and cousin David McKenzie, came off the reserves bench to claim a brilliant all-the-way victory in the G1 Topgun at The Meadows on the opening night of the Dream Chasers Festival.
While three of the beaten brigade from the Topgun will line up in the $1.65 million The Phoenix on Saturday week (December 17) – Amron Boy, McInerney and Wow She’s Fast – Photo Man is following ‘Plan B’ in the $100,000 to-the-winner Hobart Thousand.
“When it looked like we weren’t going to get a guernsey in The Phoenix, we thought what’s next?” Clifton explained.
“We were hoping to get into The Phoenix, so it is disappointing.
“People forget pretty quickly, but that’s the way it goes. It wasn’t meant to be.
“Winning the Topgun was an enormous thrill and then he didn’t have a lot of luck in the Melbourne Cup series, drawing a couple of bad boxes.
“He hasn’t been around a horse-shoe since last year, but we trialled him at Warragul and he went good, so we’re off to Tassie!”
WATCH: Reserve PHOTO MAN (B9) showed brilliant early speed to lead all-the-way in the Group 1 Topgun at The Meadows on November 5, defeating the best sprinters in the land in 29.91sec.
After winning the Topgun, Photo Man had no luck with draws in Sandown Park’s Dream Chasers events, finishing unplaced in the G3 Shootout (box 5), Melbourne Cup heat (box 7) and G3 Cup Night Sprint (box 8).
The Hobart Thousand represents largely uncharted territory for Photo Man, which has had 29 of his 35 career starts on two-turn city tracks, having raced almost exclusively in Group company over 500m throughout 2022.
The son of Aston Dee Bee and Amlin Mystique won his only two assignments on a one-turn track, both at Warragul, in October/November last year, with his other four starts coming at Healesville.
Drawn in box 2 for the first of seven heats – race 2 at 7.52pm – Photo Man is Sportsbet’s $2.25 favourite, while he’s on the third line of ‘All In’ betting at $7.
Photo Man hasn’t trialled at Hobart; however Clifton doesn’t believe that will be an issue.
“He went to Richmond and ran 29.51sec and had never seen the place,” Clifton said.
“We all know horse-shoe tracks are easier to get around than a city track. He just hasn’t had the opportunity to run on the horse-shoe tracks.
“If you look at his form, he’s been running in heats and finals of Group races all year. He’s won in four different states on five different city tracks!
“He’s drawn a good box for his heat. ‘The red’ (Dancer Of Flame) can really run – it’s gone 25.63sec at Hobart – but it hasn’t started for a while (April 18).”
Click HERE for Sportsbet’s latest Hobart Thousand heat markets
Photo Man will be accompanied by kennelmate I’m Back, a former Tasmanian that has been sidelined for the majority of the year by injury.
I’m Back, winner of eight from 27, is $8.50 from box eight in the final run-off.
“I’m Back trialled just as good as Photo Man at Warragul,” Clifton said.
“We actually bought him from Tasmania, and he’s had six starts at the track for three wins and two placings, so he’ll know where he is. His eyes will light up!
“He’s such a powerful animal, but he’s about half a length slow out of the boxes, so he needs a little bit of luck.”
Click HERE for Sportsbet’s latest ‘All In’ Hobart Thousand market
Jason Thompson’s country cups king Typhoon Sammy (heat 2, box 4), winner of the Traralgon, Horsham and Bendigo Cups this year, heads ‘All In’ betting at $5.50.
Also prominent is Paua Of Buddy (heat 5, box 8) at $7, and Melbourne Cup runner-up Fernando Mick (heat 4, box 3) at $8.
Five Victorians trialled at Hobart last Thursday, with Mobile Legend (heat 2, box 7), trained by Daryl Brennan, the most impressive on the clock, posting 25.90sec.
The other Vics to trial were Panadero Warrior (25.93sec), Paua Of Buddy (25.94sec), Who Told Shorty (26.13sec) and Zipping Starsky (26.17sec).