Junction Village trainer Jess Hopkins is hoping there’s a good ‘Moon’ rising at Sandown Park on Friday night.
Hopkins has Alfie Moon (Box 1) engaged in the $22,000 G3 The Lizrene (715m) – Race 6, 8.49pm – in a quest to finally emulate her beloved late grandfather, George Rose , as a Group race winning trainer.
Rose claimed the 1996 G1 Topgun with Wylie Boy, who also received 1996 Victorian GOTY honours.
Hopkins – who trains with the assistance of her grandmother, Valda, and mother, Sheree – says the notion of joining her ‘Pop’ on the black-type pedestal is something “I can’t put really into words”.
“I was eight years old when he passed away. I’d be playing in his kennels, saying ‘you haven’t filed their nails correctly’.
“I would walk 100 metres down the road from primary school (Ruskin Park) to my grandparents’ home in Croydon. Every day was spent with the dogs.
“I blame them for giving me the greyhound racing ‘bug’ and it’s hard to eradicate.”
Obviously, there’ll be much sentiment if Alfie Moon – named after a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders – takes home a $15,000 first prize in The Lizrene. (Incidentally, he’s first reserve for the $175,000 to-the-winner G1 Sportsbet Sandown Cup, also over 715m, on a star-studded program.)
“It would be emotional for our family, and also considering Lizrene (inaugural 1973 Vic GOTY and dual G1 Sandown Cup winner – 1972/73) was such a champion,” Hopkins said.
“He (Alfie Moon) can jump from any box and wherever he settles in a race, he’s a chance. He can lead, or come from last, but sometimes when he leads, he chases too hard for a stayer.”
Alfie Moon (Jan ’20 Fernando Bale x Psychotic Gold) is owned by three-time G1 National Sprint Championship winning trainer Petar Jovanovic and his partner, Lesley Sermon, who are close friends of the Rose/Hopkins clan.
Ironically, Jovanovic finished fourth with Shayne’s Champ in the 1996 Topgun. He also trained 1991 G1 Melbourne Cup winner, Fox Hunt.
Alfie Moon has raced on 48 occasions for nine wins, 16 seconds and eight thirds with $84,450 in prizemoney.
He’s notched three wins, four seconds and two thirds from 10 starts over 715m at Sandown Park and has identical stats from Box 1.
“I don’t think it really matters what box draw he comes from,” Hopkins said.
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“He drew either six, seven or eight in 11 of his first 12 starts, but the inside draws have caught up with him and that puts a smile on my face.
“I’ll be happy if he settles just off the lead; he got too far back (in a Sandown Cup heat) last week.”
Hopkins adds Alfie Moon “has shown he’s up to the current crop of elite stayers”. “He’s got form around them all.”
No argument there as last year Alfie Moon was third in the Victorian National Distance final (won by Moraine Suzie) and second in the G3 Top Cat Video Cup (won by First Picked).
This year, he was second to Ariarne Bale in the Cup Night Distance at Geelong; second to Untapped in a GDR at Ballarat; and fourth to Korda in a GDR at Shepparton.
Alfie Moon defeated Couch Surfer and Ariarne Bale in a Sandown Cup Prelude on May 11.
He then finished third to First Picked (beaten 3.3L) in a Sandown Cup heat, clocking 41.97sec – the sixth fastest time from the four heats.
Pawnote: Alfie Moon ($4.20) is on the third line of Sportsbet’s fixed odds market for The Lizrene – behind Couch Surfer ($3.80) and NSW star Palawa King ($3.90).
WATCH: “I think Alfie’s just got home”. ALFIE MOON (B4) denies the fast-finishing COUCH SURFER (B8) in a thrilling Sandown Cup Prelude on May 11.