By Isaac Murphy
Good mates Brett Hazelgrove and George Clegg drove down to Tuesday’s Lismore Cup Heats together and you can be sure it was a happy trip home with Hazelgrove’s Quara’s Flick and Clegg’s Big Bad Bob the only two Queenslanders to reach the Group Two Final.
Hazelgrove’s bitch was up first in a wide-open heat, but she made the race her own crashing across from a wide draw before stretching away from the inform Bad Neighbour.
“She made her own luck from the draw (6), even though she didn’t cross them clean she wanted that rail and just about bulled her way there,” Hazelgrove said.
“Last Thursday night’s run at Albion was only fair with Brandi Alexander going past us but looking at the run home times they were quite good. She just didn’t quite fly the lids as usual. I was relatively confident she could run a race last night.”
Hazelgrove said it’s going to take her best from another outside box in the final and would look at a possible tune up before taking on some handy types in the Group Two.
“I’ve probably got to consider doing something with her before the final on Tuesday, she’s going to need to be at her best from the eight box,” he said.
“She’ll have to ping the lids, but I don’t think it’s the worst draw for her. There was a lot of trouble down near the rail on the first turn last night, so if she can be up there, she’s a chance to sail around. I give her a really good chance.”
“Of all the heat wins I was probably most taken by Buck’s Future who’s been racing close up behind the likes of Feral Franky and gets the red for the final this week. He looks the one to beat.”
With last night’s win, Quara’s Flick has now won at three different venues in her short but fruitful tenure with a thankful Hazelgrove.
“There are a lot of differences from a track like Albion Park, with the surface if you get behind you cop a lot more kick back in your face, It’s definitely a front runners track, which suits her style,” he said.
“I couldn’t ask for a more honest chaser, everything I’ve put to her from her twelve starts with me she’s never disappointed and a Lismore Cup Final is another notch on her belt.”
“She’s never going to be a Group One superstar, but when you’re a live chance in a $40,000 Group Two final you’re travelling ok.”
With a brood bitch career beckoning Hazelgrove is making the most of his time with the bitch and will be turning his focus to the middle-distance at Albion Park post Lismore Cup.
“We’re actually targeting the Golden Sands Group Three 600 metre race in January,” he said.
“She hasn’t been over the trip before, but with her early speed if she can go 9.80 to the first mark at Albion and find a bit of strength to keep going it could suit and we’ll probably look at a Bundaberg Cup after that.”
Hazelgrove said he couldn’t thank owners Michael Phillips and David Blench enough for trusting him with the bitch. Phillips returning the sentiment after her Group Two Final birth.
“She jumped well and cut hard to the fence and we had a little bit of luck when the leaders came together, but I was very impressed when she ran away from Bad Neighbour when it loomed up,” Phillips said.
“Talking to Brett, David (Blench) and I certainly get the impression she’ll improve a few lengths if things go her way and are rapt to have her in a Group Two Final.”
“We’re incredibly thankful to Brett who make the trip down to Lismore just to race the bitch. I can’t speak highly enough of him as a trainer and what he’s done for David and I.”
Quara’s Flick was originally pegged to have a short race life on the track, but continued success has her owners keen to push on.
“We bought her predominantly as a future brood bitch with a little bit of racing in her. She’s definitely exceeded our expectations with twelve starts for five wins, including a Group Three (Townsville Cup) and multiple sub 30 second runs at Albion and over $40,000 prize money, she’s certainly extended her racing life,” Phillips said.
“We’re very keen to explore whether she can run the six hundred metres, so we’ll be giving her a few chances over the trip before we consider retirement.”
“She’s got a nice full resume already, but if she can add that string to her bow it’s hard to ignore what she’s achieved.”
Big Bad Bob was the last to book his spot in the final, but his trademark strength was there for all to see closing late at start 119.
“I thought it was a huge run. I counted at least three checks in the trip and he was still the one finishing off the strongest,” Clegg said.
“Fernando Blaster is a Group One performed dog and we were taking ground off him late, which is a really good sign heading into this week’s final.”
Clegg said Bob had plenty of history at the track dating back to 2017 but going on five early next year thought he was a better chance than many gave him.
“He’s come up with the five which he wore in the final last year where he didn’t have any luck, but with all the speed inside of him I’m hoping they clear out and he falls on the rail,” he said.
“No-one really gave him a chance in his heat, I think he was about five to one the place in a six-dog field, he’s come up at $21 for the final which looks big overs.”
The Cup has plenty of class across the board, but a number of big names did miss out giving Clegg a cause for optimism.
“By no means is it a weak final but both of Tony’s (Brett) dogs Charming Chaos and Bad Benny missed out, along with Smooth Act and He’s a Rocker who I would have thought would be favourite for the series. It gives us a bit more hope without those names,” he said.
“The one that sticks out for me is Buck’s Future who was brilliant from out wide last week and gets the red this week.”
Five in February, Clegg refuses to put a use by date on Big Bad Bob. His form at home and on the track showing he’s still young at heart.
“Every morning he comes out of the kennel he’s bouncing around in the yard. He tore up and down with the pups a couple of times the other morning and I just let him go he’s got a bit left in him yet,” Clegg said.