By Isaac Murphy
Before June this year, Shakey Diesel was making his money as a good Free For All dog at Ipswich and Rockhampton. A huge Winter has catapulted the Peter O’Reilly two-year-old to the next level starting with the Publican’s Cup Heats at Albion Park on Thursday.
O’Reilly said the dog had taken the biggest jump of his career in the last few months and was looking forward to seeing what he could do in a very suitable race.
“He’s really well graded for a race like this. We were taking on the big boys with him over the Winter Carnival and he stood up well I’m expecting him to be right in it,” O’Reilly said.
“He’s been jumping well from just about any draw lately but has always liked the outside (8). It should give him a good chance of getting across at the first turn.”
“He doesn’t need to lead to win. He’s got a pretty smart head on his shoulders and won’t crash into the field from the eight, but if he can clear a dog like Dusty Delight from the red, I can’t see them catching him.”
In a savvy training move O’Reilly gave Shakey Diesel a hit out over the 600 metres last start, keeping his conditioning while also assuring he would still qualify for the Fifth Grade Cup.
“The move up to 600 was to make sure he’d be eligible for the Publican’s Cup and to just get pipped like he did over a foreign distance told me he’s on top of his game for this week,” he said.
“If he performs well in a Fifth Grade series like this, it tells me that it’s probably time to start looking at a few bigger races for him. I’m fairly assured he’ll be every chance at progressing and winning the final.”
O’Reilly said he’d been waiting to challenge Shakey Diesel and a 30.45 open win at Ipswich convinced him to have a crack at the Group Three Flying Amy, a move that paid huge dividends.
“Obviously finishing second in the Flying Amy was a huge result financially and beyond anything that I’d expected, but the flow on effect of all of that racing has him rock hard fit for his next assignment,” he said.
“It’s taken a while to get him to this level. Grant Franklin had him early on when I didn’t have room in the kennel and laid a great foundation with him, but I think it’s just an age thing he seems to be getting better with every run and his box manners have improved out of sight.”
With an impressive Winter Carnival under his belt, O’Reilly is looking to push on with the dog in the form of his life with several targets in mind.
“He’s very versatile, wherever you take him he’ll give an honest account of himself. I’ve got a few races planned for him late this year and early next year, but I want to have him over the middle distances sooner rather than later,” O’Reilly said.
“I took him up to Bundaberg a few weeks ago to give him a look at the track with an eye towards the Bundaberg Cup next year. I’ve also taken him down for a look at the Lismore and Casino tracks where he trialled really well, where I also think he can figure in their Cups.”
“If he steps up in races like those which I expect him to do, you suddenly have to start looking at races like the Million Dollar Chase. From where he began just to be considering a race like that, he’s come a hell of a long way.”