Queensland Guineas Day
Eagle Farm, Ascot / Sat 1 May
Gold Coast Cup Day
Aquis Park, Gold Coast / Sat 8 May
Heartfelt first winner of the Darryl Gollan Memorial
Moffat looking forward to second edition of TAB Trot Rods
By Isaac Murphy
Darren Russell is never far away from a good dog and the esteemed trainer looks in for a strong 2021 with Withcott Wonder, Deck Fifty Two and Spooky Fernando.
The young trio are doing good things in the Billy Harris Final at Capalaba and the Group 3 Ipswich Auction heats to be run over the weekend, with Russell giving an insight into their chances.
Withcott Wonder takes on a likely field in Sunday’s Billy Harris Final at Capalaba, and Russell is confident his chaser can turn giant killer and take down speedster Brother Jason.
“I’ve been racing Withcott Wonder up the straight with races like the Billy Harris on it gives him a chance to build some confidence before we go back to the circle where he was a 30.23 winner on debut at Albion Park,” Russell said.
“He’s a good straight track dog; he does everything right but probably doesn’t have that x-factor like his brother Bogie Fury (Aston Dee Bee/Bogie Lilly) does but seems to be the one out of the litter that gets the 500 no problem.
“I’m hoping he can say goodbye to Capalaba on a winning note Sunday, there’s one big problem and that’s Brother Jason who is an open company dog on his day, but we’re drawn right on the inside of the track and should get an unimpeded run at it.”
Deck Fifty Two was thrown in the deep end tackling his first 500-metre race in last Saturday’s Ipswich Auction heats, and while he didn’t win, he showed he was up to the challenge and Russell is confident of further success in this Saturday’s semis.
“It was his biggest test to date, I just wanted to see him handle the moment and even though he was a long way off the winner (Little Byrnes) he looked more than comfortable beating the rest home,” he said.
“I think he’s a really good chance of leading this week from box five, he was a clear second out in his heat to probably the quickest beginner in the series, I think he can eyeball Flaming Rose early and clear them.
“Flaming Rose deserves plenty of respect with her winning record but just like us she’s unproven over the 500 and if things don’t go her way early, it’s a different race.”
Spooky Fernando ran into Flaming Rose in last week’s heats and while she wasn’t first over the line a strong run home gave Russell plenty to like.
“I’m probably a bit more bullish about Spooky Fernando’s chances as a true 500-metre dog at this point, he’s still very raw but there’s no way I’ll be dropping him back in distance now he’s there,” he said.
“I’ve only had him about six weeks and was able to get the one run into him before the heats - it was a real rough house affair - so I wasn’t sure how he’d respond but he was making ground on Flaming Rose late.
“He’s a dog I’d like to see drawn off the track, he’s going to have to deal with box three Saturday night but if he gets the chance to wind up one off the fence, he’s a 30.5 or quicker dog around there which gives you a chance at winning the lot.”
Between the Ipswich Auction dogs and Withcott Wonder’s impending return to the 500-metre start, Russell is flush for young talent he can’t wait to develop.
“Lawry Meteyard brought me Deck Fifty Two and Spooky Fernando; both the progeny of Barcia Bale and Mitchie Madam, I haven’t had them long but the signs are very promising,” he said.
“I’ve had a bit of a turnover in the kennels at the moment, I think both of those dogs will make it as Thursday night regulars and I’ve got another one Honda Herrera who’s going places too.
“I’m probably still trying to figure them out at the moment, Deck Fifty Two has had the most race starts at nine, so I’ll learn plenty in the next few months.”