By Isaac Murphy
Tommy ‘The Prince’ Tzouvelis will have some extra ammunition when he tries to defend his Group 2 Launceston Cup Crown on the Apple Isle next week.
Tzouvelis will have Del Rey shooting for back-to-back wins in the Tassie feature, with kennel mate Brandi Alexander also set to make an appearance.
Both arrive in hot form with Del Rey running third behind Wise Misty in the Best 8 at Albion Park last Thursday, while Brandi Alexander produced the run of the night (29.82) in winning the Grade 5 over 520m.
Tzouvelis said he was on the ground Wednesday morning to trial his duo ahead of Monday’s heats and couldn’t have been happier with how they both performed.
“I trialled both of them at the track this morning, Del Rey handled it no problem having been there before, Brandi wanted to run a bit wide on the corners but nothing that should affect her race too much,” Tzouvelis said.
“Launceston is a bit tighter than Albion Park and generally takes a little bit of getting used to, so it was pretty crucial to especially give Brandi a look at the track.”
Tzouvelis said he was content with the box draws for Monday night’s heats, but with only Heat winners and the fastest second-placed runners qualifying, both would have to be on their game.
“We’ve done pretty well with the box draw, Brandi is in one for her heat and Del Rey in two for hers,” he said.
“Del Rey has been racing in really good order, if she can get her start right she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
“The unknown for Del Rey is there are a couple of the other dogs in her heat which I’m not completely familiar with, so we’ll have to cross out fingers everything works out race pattern wise.
“Brandi has the one box in her heat, but she’ll have to contend with a couple of really strong Melbourne dogs, but if she does everything right she’ll be very competitive.”
Tzouvelis said returning as the defending champion certainly added a bit of extra weight to what is already a high calibre race but he is looking forward to the challenge.
“The fact that we won it last year definitely makes it a little more special for us and it would be really memorable if we could go back to back,” he said.
“On ability Brandi is probably three to four lengths faster than Del Rey, but in racing it’s not always the fastest dog that wins but the best race dog and that’s why Del Rey has been such a fantastic bitch.
“In saying that Brandi is a dog that trials well first up and that was reflected in her jumpout this morning, but what I’m most pleased about is that she always seems to improve second up, so I’m itching to see what she can do.”