By Isaac Murphy
Miss Gingin’s career looked over when the former Melbournian spent 236 days in the racing wilderness, but the sharp eye of Tommy Tzouvelis has breathed new life into the burgeoning stayer as she lines up in the Queensland National Distance Final this Thursday night.
“A friend of mine was involved with the bitch in Melbourne and couldn’t get to the bottom of what was wrong with her,” Tzouvelis said.
“They ended up flying her up for me to take a look at and after a while we figured out what was holding her back.”
“It just so happened her former trainer and owners parted ways while she was in my care, so I gave the owners a call and asked for a chance and that’s how it started.”
Despite figuring her injury woes out, Tzouvelis still faced the tall task of rebuilding the two-and-a-half-year old’s confidence eight months since her last run and was very deliberate in her return to racing.
“Coming off such a layoff the biggest challenge was just getting her back holding together and once we achieved that we could start thinking about where her ability could take her,” he said.
“She was underdone and raw for that first start at Ipswich over the 520 in May and still came home like a train, that was the moment I knew she could make a full recovery, but I wanted her over the staying trip as soon as possible.”
“I kept her away from the trial track and concentrated on getting runs under her belt, even though she wasn’t winning with each run you could see her becoming more confident within herself.”
Miss Gingin broke through for her first Queensland win at start eight last Thursday night breaking the 42 second barrier (41.92). It was just her second attempt over the 710 and Tzouvelis was rapt with the run.
“I was really impressed with her win Thursday night despite the lack of depth in the race, the week before she was put into the outside fence from the eight box,” he said.
“That can rattle some dogs for a long time, but she drew the same the next week and didn’t miss a beat, it showed her class.”
Tzouvelis has achieved just about everything in his stellar career, but a National staying runner has eluded him. Something he hopes to change Thursday night.
“It’d be an honour if she could get it done Thursday. I had a ball representing the state with Maurice Minor in the Sprint last year and I’ve never had a stayer at Nationals it would be nice to tick that off,” he said.
“It’ll be a much stronger field this Thursday. You’ve got dogs like Rasheda who’s all class, Bago Bluff a Group One finalist and Stevick who’s a stayer on the rise.”
“She’s only getting better with each run, it’ll be her third seven hundred this week. I’m expecting her to strip fitter and knock a couple of tenths off her time.”
If Miss Gingin can win on Thursday night, Tzouvelis has no doubt she would be a huge threat at the Nationals in Perth as her fitness continues to build.
“I would say at the moment she’s still only about 85% fit, I think in the next month to six weeks she’ll be hitting her peak,” he said.
“I’ve got no doubt she’ll get her time down around the 41.6 mark in that period, which puts you in the kind of elite company that could compete at Nationals.”
Miss Gingin is not Tzouvelis’ only chance to head to Perth with She’s Some Gal’ and Brandi Alexander looking to follow in Maurice Minor’s footsteps from last year and win the Queensland Sprint Final after impressive heat runs last week.
“She’s Some Gal has turned into a real race dog. Early on she was a lead or nothing prospect, but she showed Thursday night she’s starting to get some real racing nous,” Tzouvelis said.
“I was so pleased for Wayne Dunsmore who owns her, he’s been a long-time client and friend of the family. He’s one of those blokes who puts a real emphasis on breeding and she looks like she’ll develop into a quality brood bitch in time.”
“It sounds a bit strange, but I really like her draw in the five, Wise Misty is in the four and she jumps brilliantly and to the left at the start, so we’ll get plenty of room to operate.”
Brandi Alexander has carried her form well from a Townsville Cup campaign but will have to overcome another tough draw in a wide-open race to be a chance.
“Brandi has been posted with the eight again which isn’t ideal, but she’s racing in good form and if she can beat Regal Recall (7) to the first corner she has a chance of getting across the inside brigade,” Tzouvelis said.
“It’s a very even race there are several who could win it Dam Slippery (1), Wise Misty (4) and Regal Recall (7) are probably the big three on paper, but it doesn’t always go to script in a final.”