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Explicit returns to Melbourne to race for the first time since his Great Chase triumph in October. 📷 Clint Anderson.

  • Wednesday, 07 Feb, 2024,
  • by Peter Quilty

Thompson trio tackle Temlee

The ‘Unmissable’ Sportsbet Australian Cup Carnival… Let the ‘Star Wars’ begin!

And it all starts with two invitational events – Group 1 Temlee (525m) and Group 1 Zoom Top (730m) – and heats of the Group 1 Australian Cup (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.

Champion Pearcedale trainer Jason Thompson has “boldly gone where no man has before” in the sport, establishing an unparalleled record during the past three decades.

Thompson has three ‘invitees’ – Transponder (Box 2), Explicit (Box 6) and Alpha Zulu (Box 8) – in the $100,000 to-the-winner Temlee.

And what distinguished ‘guests of honour’ they are!

Dual G1 winner (Adelaide Cup & Topgun) Transponder (23 from 47 – $467,025) and two-time G2 winner (Bendigo Cup & Cranbourne Cup) Alpha Zulu (16 from 28 – $240,220) are bona fide superstars while G3 winner (Great Chase) Explicit (10 from 12 – $95,390) is touted as the “next big thing”.

So, can Thompson pull off a ‘triple treat’ – a Temlee trifecta?

In what is a real feather in the cap of such a young and inexperienced sprinter, the 25-month-old Explicit is not only Sportsbet’s $3.50 favourite for the Temlee but also $6 pre-post favourite – ahead of Big Energy ($8) and Alpha Zulu ($9) – for the Australian Cup.

“He’s very good… Now he’s got to come out and prove himself in better races”.

“His form is current and he’s a dog on the rise,” Thompson said. “It’s the weight of demand for him; I think the good judges see what we see in this dog.”

Explicit, who has won his past seven starts, endured an 11-week hiatus shortly after defeating kennelmate Tim Zoo in the Great Chase on October 18 last year.

However, since returning to the racing scene in mid-January, Explicit has been simply superb with three provincial wins including the GRV Vic Bred Grade 5 final (450m) at Warrnambool.

He clocked a sizzling 24.76sec, scoring by a massive 8.7 lengths, with the time just under two lengths off the 24.66sec track record recently set by G1 Paws Of Thunder winner, Dutch Riot.

“He sustained an injury (cracked metacarpal) winning a race at The Meadows 10 days after the Great Chase,” Thompson explained.

“But his three runs since coming back have been all that we could have asked from him. He’s a better dog, he’s a bit older now.”

Thompson obviously realises Explicit is “very good” but says “now he’s got to come out and prove himself in better races”.

“He’s a very tenacious chaser and extremely competitive. He just loves racing.”

And Thompson isn’t worried about Explicit coming up with the ‘green’ alley.

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“I’m not worried about the draw with him as we wanted middle to wide. I think at the level he’s been racing he looks a good beginner, but we’ll reassess ‘how good’ after the Temlee.”

Thompson is also banking on good performances from Transponder ($7) and Alpha Zulu ($9).

“Transponder is going as good as he ever has, but I don’t like the draw at all. I’m not saying he can’t win, but the draw really makes it difficult for him.

“Alpha Zulu has got a good box eight record; the box is certainly no disadvantage. He’s going well and I’m very happy with where he’s at.”

Meanwhile, Thompson also has Zulu Blast (Box 6) – a litter brother of Alpha Zulu – in the $75,000 to-the-winner Zoom Top. He’s $4.50 on Sportsbet’s fixed odds market.

“He’s in as good as form as any of his rivals. It’s the biggest test he’s faced thus far, but he’s been putting the times on the board, and I wanted him drawn towards the middle.”

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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