By Isaac Murphy
Thursday night at Albion Park signals the running of the prestigious State Championship finals crowning Queensland’s best over the sprint and distance trips.
With plenty of story lines set to play out, the highlights look to be the battle of Selena Zammit’s kennel mates Oh Mickey and Stinger Noir in the sprint and Jeff Crawford’s Group 1 winner Classy Ethics over the distance, who will look to go one better for the trainer who was runner-up last year.
Zammit kennel mates go head-to-head
The clash between Oh Mickey and Stinger Noir is fascinating; Oh Mickey at his best gets the nod but he’s been racing slightly below while Stinger Noir is in the form of his life and fast closing the gap.
Michael Zammit has plenty of confidence in both but knows only one can beat the rest of the field home.
“They’ve both come through the heats really well, they’re both at 100% going into Thursday night but the box draw is probably our only worry,” Michael Zammit said.
“I would have preferred Oh Mickey (8) closer to the fence; if he doesn’t come out he’ll still be desperate to get to the rail and might be in a bit of trouble as he’ll have to be on his toes early.
“It’s a tough one because if Oh Mickey does nail the start that probably disadvantages Stinger in box six, we’d love to have both of them in the picture early but might have to hope one gets it right.”
Group 1 champion Oh Mickey isn’t far away from him absolute best form, a 29.45 run in the Brisbane Cup Heats and more recently a 30 flat effort almost knocking off the track record in the Ipswich Young Guns signalling he’s close to his best - something he’ll need this week.
“Oh Mickey was playing up a bit in the boxes last week, he likes to set himself for the start and anticipate it and he just got down a little bit early last week,” Zammit said.
“With his speed, he still drove through and led from the one but doesn’t have the same luxury this week.
“It can be a good trait to have, we’ve seen throughout his career he’s timed the start perfectly and set up his race, but for the first time he’s missed it in his last couple of finals but we think we have him switched on.”
Based on form, Stinger Noir can’t be ignored out of box six, shooting for six straight in Best 8 and open company this Thursday, and the dog doing everything asked of him in preparation.
“I actually quite like Stinger drawn in the six, he likes to use a little bit of the track early and gives him the chance to wind up a bit and put himself in the race,” Zammit said.
“He’s going the best he ever has, he’s won five in a row at Albion in open company and the biggest positive is seeing him bring his time down.
“He’s got a 29.61 best now and has run in the 29.7 range multiple times which sees him really compete at the top level.
“We’re much more assured every time we go to the track with him now that he’s going to give himself a chance.
“His box manners have improved out of sight, he’s no Oh Mickey but he doesn’t need to be as he always runs a strong 500.”