By Isaac Murphy
Maurice Minor came from seventh on the first turn in last week’s National Sprint Heats to finish a quarter of a length off the winner and trainer Tommy Tzouvelis believes if Maurice Minor can position closer from his inside draw in Thursday night’s Queensland National final his dog has the motor to get home first.
Maurice Minor has been racing in excellent form since returning from a short stint at The Meadows in July, where he ran the second fastest time of the year over the 525m, beaten by Group 1 Maturity favourite Dyna Patty.
Since returning home to Queensland the accomplished chaser has been in tantalising form only missing the places once in six starts at the track and distance, while finishing within a length of dual group one winner Jury in UBET State of Origin series.
Despite strong form lines Tzouvelis said he was unsure how the race would play out Thursday night, with his dog finally drawing an inside box.
“I don’t know how he’s going to handle the draw actually it’s been that long since he’s had the inside, he might have forgotten what it’s like,” he said.
“I think it’s about his last fifteen to twenty starts he hasn’t drawn inside the four box, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.”
In a final stacked with box speed Tzouvelis said the challenge would be to find a clear run to the first turn.
“The key to him is if he can stay close enough he’s good enough, but where he’s going to slot in early that’s a bit of a mystery,” he said.
“When you’re a backmarker you rely on luck and with the speed in the race that’s what he’s got to rely on tomorrow.”
“He’s feeling good and going well so that’s all I can really ask.”
Tzouvelis said he thought Brett Hazelgrove’s duo of heat winner’s Call Me Ugo and All About Tiger would be the dogs to beat based on their superior box manners.
“We go in hopeful, but I think Brett Hazelgrove’s dogs they’re going to be very hard to beat,” he said.
“They’ve been jumping a treat and doing everything right, so it’s a matter of how close we can stay to them early.”
Tzouvelis said his three year old chaser had shown the talent to compete at Group One level, but it was reaching crunch time to see if he could break through.
“He’s probably made about eight group finals now, he’s proven at that level he can tangle with them he’s just never drawn that right box or found that right run,” he said.
“Hopefully out of the two box and with his experience he’s getting a bit older now learning how to navigate through the field he’ll be right there in the finish.”
Tzouvelis only works a small number of dogs but said the kennel was going a treat.
“We’ve only got about five in work at the moment, but I guess the advantage of having a small team is we can put more time in with them.”
“We ran third and fourth at the Group 3 Darwin Cup recently with Del Ray and Soft Sand who are both in tomorrow night, but it’s all about Maurice Minor tomorrow.”