By Isaac Murphy
Star Queensland sprinter Oh Mickey must have got the memo on Racing Queensland’s revised winter programming.
The Mick Zammit trained dog was back to his brilliant best, winning the Best 8 at Albion Park on a night that also saw Ray and Mary Burman and Darren Russell both score doubles.
The National Derby Champion uncharacteristically missed the kick at his last two starts but found the fence and the lead last night winning by almost five lengths to kennel mate Stinger Noir.
“They are very different dogs; Oh Mickey has a clear advantage at the start and late while Stinger picks up a little bit of ground down the back but doesn’t quite finish off as well,” Mike Zammit said.
“Last night was a good illustration, once Mickey found the fence and put a gap into them early Stinger was the only one making any headway, but Mickey was always going to find again late.
“I’m really happy for Clint (Kratzmann) to see him run down around his best (29.69) after the kennel swap, it just affirmed he’s going as good as ever moving forward.”
Zammit said Stinger Noir had come into his own as a Best 8 dog, with maturity doing him wonders.
“Stinger Noir is always going to lack that genuine early box speed, but what he has in spades is the will to chase and that’s something you can’t teach them,” Zammit said.
“He’s really grown into himself this year with a heightened race sense keeping him out of trouble early, he’s putting himself in a lot more races.”
Zammit has arguably the state’s best two sprinters in Oh Mickey and Stinger Noir, and was as excited as anyone to see the remodelled winter schedule.
“Races like the Brisbane Cup are just starting to appear on the horizon,” Zammit said.
“We’re not getting carried away, it’s a long way off and there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge, but we’d love to get them both there.
“We’re just grateful to have those races back on, it looked like we wouldn’t be racing at all a month ago now open class dogs like ours are still going to get their shot in the modified program.”
Oh Mickey has been with Zammit long enough for the trainer to declare the best is yet to come, an ominous warning to rivals.
“I think with age Oh Mickey can go even quicker, it sounds a bit funny when he’s consistently running in the 29.6 range,” Zammit said.
“He’s only turned two a couple of months ago and I think we can get him peaking at two and a half to three years old.
“He tried to anticipate the start and banged his head on the boxes his first start back in Brisbane and since then hasn’t been quite as bulletproof at the start.
“If we can fix that I can certainly see him gaining at least another length on what he’s doing now.”