By Isaac Murphy
The Crocmedia Queensland National Sprint Final is stack full of early speed with Dam Slippery, Wise Misty and Regal Recall all capable of going 5.50 to the first turn, but you don’t win the race first time past the post and Travis Elson’s Silver Stunner will be doing her best work late.
“She’s had her racing pattern since day dot, she’s the quickest dog I’ve ever had but just not out of the lids. Even solo she’s a 5.70 dog to the first turn,” Elson said.
“She was trialling 29.8 at nineteen months, but her lacklustre start is something over the journey I’ve just had to accept, it can be frustrating but when she winds up and gets there from the back there is nothing more exciting.”
Silver Stunner was producing eye-catching runs week after week in Best 8 company since her return from season earlier this year and Elson believes she has the draw and the form to finally break through on Thursday night.
“I’m really happy with the draw (3) for the Final, obviously we had exactly what we wanted with the red last week, but I went home and watched the replay and Dusty Delight cost us any chance of winning twice getting shunted into the rail,” he said.
“At first glance I was disappointed with the run, but on closer inspection she did what she always does, kept chasing despite the breaks and she’s pulled up a treat which is all I can ask for.”
“There weren’t many dogs on the entire card that ran on last week, which is her go to so hopefully it’s not as leader friendly this time round.”
Pushed back to last at the post in her heat, Elson is confident her race maps well out of the three.
“If all goes to plan if she can be fifth on the rail around the first corner, that’s when she’ll make her run,” he said.
“She’s known for her closing sectional, but she’s just as good down the back. If you watch her run two weeks ago when she missed by a nose against Glorious Izmir. She spotted him ten and did everything but run him down.”
“It’s always going to come down to that first section for her. Even when she draws the one she simply doesn’t have the speed to hold up, but with an inside draw gets the opportunity to camp behind them rather than get pushed off from out wide.”
The Sprint Final has invariably drawn a hot field. Elson is well aware that the early speed dogs could pinch it early, singling out Tony Brett’s Regal Recall as the toughest opposition to win the race.
“If Dam Slippery jumps and leads with a bit of trouble behind it could be all over, but if Wise Misty crosses which I think she can Dam Slippery won’t run her down while I think we can,” Elson said.
“My pick for the race is Regal Recall for Tony Brett, I think he’s drawn perfect out there (7). If they jam up on that first corner he could go right on by.”
Silver Stunner returned from a long 124-day season in late May with Elson keen to make a hasty push for the Origin Match Race. A rare chance to give her an unhampered run, but timing ultimately cruelled her bid.
“She was trialling brilliantly down around 29.8 when she came back from season just before the Origin match race,” Elson said.
“I knew she’d be an ideal candidate for the race, but you don’t hand out that coveted spot on a trial so I put her in the week before and unfortunately she got flattened and you just couldn’t pick her on exposed form.”
“The Club showed a lot of faith giving us a reserve spot for the sprint where she came in and ran a huge third, but boy I would have liked to see her go one on one with Feral Franky.”
Elson has found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place with his unique bitch on a number of occasions. Stick with the big sprint races or become a middle-distance specialist which he is leaning toward after her Nationals bid.
“If she can’t make it through the Nationals, I’m going to step her up to the 600 and give her an extended run at the trip,” he said.
“I’m hoping that’s something we can delay because I think she’ll be ideally suited by the track in Perth. It’s nice and spacious giving dogs like Silver Stunner a chance to get into the race.”
Thursday night is potentially career defining for Elson who has enjoyed an abundance of winners at ‘The Creek’ over the years, but is still searching for that breakthrough win.
“It would be my biggest thrill to date as a trainer. I’ve won the Bundaberg Cup a couple of times, but haven’t cracked a big one at Albion Park yet and a Nationals would mean the world.”