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Alpha Zulu with handler Holly Thompson 📷 Clint Anderson

  • Monday, 08 Jan, 2024,
  • by Peter Quilty

Champion trainer eyes ‘elusive’ Warragul Cup

Champion trainer Jason Thompson, 54, hopes to erase a statistical quirk of his stellar career.

The Pearcedale powerhouse, who started training greyhounds as an 18-year-old, has won every Victorian country cup except the Warragul Cup – albeit his wife, Seona, took out the 2018 edition with Aston Dee Bee.

However, Thompson has ‘exploded from the traps’ in 2024! Subsequently, he’s well on the way to putting a line through this ‘anomaly’.

In his inimitable style, Thompson has a ‘fab four’ contesting the $83,000 Group 2 Sportsbet Warragul Cup final (460m) on Friday night.

“I can’t really separate them… I couldn’t pick one over the other or vice versa.”

He’ll rug Tim Zoo, Alpha Zulu, Transponder and Got Attitude in the $55,000 to-the-winner event.

Thompson snared three of the seven Cup heats conducted last week – Alpha Zulu (25.54sec), Tim Zoo (25.78sec) and Got Attitude (25.97sec). Transponder also qualified for the final courtesy of finishing second in his heat, clocking 25.65sec.

It was yet another memorable night for him as Unleash Collinda also finished second in a Cup heat and Plaintiff (25.87sec) saluted in a Mixed 4/5.

Thompson holds the first three lines of Sportsbet’s fixed odds market for the Warragul Cup with $3.70 joint favourites Alpha Zulu and Transponder, followed closely by Tim Zoo at $4 and Got Attitude rated a $10 chance.

The fastest heat winner, Nature Strip (25.41sec), has also been assessed at $12 after drawing Box 7.

Thompson finds it nigh impossible to select between Tim Zoo (Box 2), Alpha Zulu (Box 3) and Transponder (Box 4) in the final.

“I can’t really separate them,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t pick one over the other or vice versa.

“Box two is perfect for Tim Zoo. The ‘red’ (Skinny Olive – Box 1)) should lead and he should be parked right behind it. I think he’ll get himself into an A1 position.”

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Thompson added Alpha Zulu is “very much like Tim Zoo”.

“Alpha Zulu has plenty of strength and if Tim Zoo does anything wrong early, he could be the dog camped right on the ‘red’.

“And boxes one, two and three aren’t going to worry Transponder. Additionally, Got Attitude (Box 5) and Pass The Buck (Box 6) ‘run straight’.

Tim Zoo scores a KO in a Warragul Cup heat 📷 Clint Anderson

“Transponder had box four in the Topgun and got the job done. His draw is okay and if he begins, he could have some clear running.”

Thompson says box five “doesn’t make it easy” for Got Attitude, which he adds was “unlucky in the Hobart Thousand”.

“There was a bit of trouble in his Warragul Cup heat. He’s a chance in the final, but if he can run ‘top four’ I’ll be rapt.”

WATCH: “Alpha Zulu with a kick though draws away and the favourite’s through”. ALPHA ZULU (B2) sets up a chance for a third country cup with a stylish Warragul Cup heat victory.

Thompson has twice provided the Warragul Cup runner-up – Aston Bolero (2017) and Equalizer (2021). He’s also finished third with Audrey Elaine (2002), Coal King (2013) and Aqua Cheetah (2017).

He had four finalists in the 2017 Warragul Cup – Aston Bolero (2nd), Aqua Cheetah (3rd), Sleek Master (5th) and Aston Dee Bee (8th).

Amazingly, Thompson has prepared 15 Warragul Cup finalists since 1998.

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

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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