By Isaac Murphy
Proper Gent is a sprinter going places and tonight he gets the chance to prove it.
The John McCarthy trained two-and-a-half-year-old is in the best form of his career stringing together six consecutive wins over the shorter courses at Albion and Ipswich.
McCarthy believes now more than ever his sprinter is ready to be competitive in the Grade 5 520m (Race 5) tonight at Albion Park.
McCarthy said he always held a high opinion of Proper Gent, but as a young dog was stuck between a 400m dog and a strong 520 chaser.
“He’s always shown plenty of ability as a youngster, but I put him over the 520 probably a bit early,” McCarthy said.
“His mid-race sections were really good, but he was just getting tired at the end, the last 50m was catching him out.”
Realising his sprinter hadn’t yet matured into the 520m dog he had hoped McCarthy dropped back in distance with the intention of building him back up to run the distance.
“Rather than persevere with him I thought I’d drop him back and through a mixture of that mid race pace and his improved box manners it’s payed dividends over the shorter course and he’s shown what he can run,” he said.
“Over the last six seven runs I’ve been backing him up twice a week just to try to strengthen him up for another tilt at the 520 tonight.”
Proper Gent’s early career runs over the 520 at Albion yielded just two wins from twenty starts but McCarthy is confident his strategy and the maturation of the dog will provide better results this time around.
“He has won at Albion Park before in fair sort of time but I’m definitely hoping after the strategy I’ve taken with him he can improve on what he’s done here before,” he said
“If he gets a clear sort of run he should be leading tonight by a fair way it’s just a question of whether he’s going to be strong enough and we’ll find out tonight.”
McCarthy said Proper Gent’s race smarts had come a long way and was hoping his improved manners would hold him in good stead tonight.
“Earlier on in his career he needed a bit of room around him and took a few strides to get going, but his last few starts he seems to be getting out of the box better and putting himself into the race early on,” he said.
“I don’t think the three is going to worry him, he seems to be making the most of any box he gets over his winning streak.”
Win or lose tonight McCarthy said his sprinter is one to follow, with the versatility to win races over multiple distances.
“This is the acid test for him and if he goes well tonight we’ll push on and persist over the 520 with him, but if he’s still just lacking that little bit at the end we always have the option to take him back to the shorter course where we know he’ll have plenty of wins.”
McCarthy also suits up Slick in the Best 8 tonight, as he comes down in distance after some impressive 600m runs.
“I decided to put him back over the 600’s because I couldn’t go anywhere else with him apart from the Best 8’s which I didn’t think he was up to at that stage,” he said
“He’s drawn out in the eight tonight it’ll probably suit him the box.”
McCarthy said Slick seemed to be enjoying his racing again and was hopeful his 600 runs would stand him in good stead tonight.
“It’s worked out well because he’s been jumping out and leading over the 600’s which has done his confidence the world of good.”
“I’ve found in the past if you can give your dogs a bit of confidence leading over the 600 it can hopefully translate to the 520.”
“I don’t expect him to ping and go away from them but if he’s up there at the first turn he’ll run out the race really well.”