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Cheap Wine shocked bookies, punters and even her trainer Kev Macintosh when she blitzed a Best 8 field in 29.71 seconds at $41 three weeks ago, and her Group-class competition couldn’t put a dent in her once she found the front.
Three weeks down the track, she takes on the underdog tag again in her heat of the Golden Ticket, with Tommy Shelby, Hara’s Clyde and Dynamic Bill all backed to beat her.
While she may seem up against it, Macintosh says rule her out at your own peril.
Cheap Wine has drawn the widest of the four runners - something Macintosh was hoping to avoid -but that won’t spell the end of her with just four runners.
“I really liked the four dog heats for her, she can find a bit of trouble in the run and the less competition the better - but it’s a red-hot race,” he said.
“If I had my choice, box seven outside Tommy Shelby, Hara’s Clyde and Magical Bill would have been my last pick; she loves to get to the fence, but I’m still hopeful in the condensed field.
“In my opinion Tommy Shelby is the clear top pick, I know his trial wasn’t flash last week, but he’ll get all the favours off the inside and we’re talking about one of the best dogs in the country here - if we’re able to compete with him I’ll be over the moon.
“Between Hara’s Clyde, Magical Bill and ourselves I don’t think there’s a whole lot if they’re all at their best, if things go our way I back us to make it through to next week.”
Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 8:28 PM
Cheap Wine has mixed her form throughout her career, with eye-catching wins followed by a plain run, but Macintosh is hoping she’s finally ready to compete consistently in open company.
“She’s been a wonderful chaser over her career but it hasn’t been without its hurdles, she’s totally rail oriented in her races and relies a lot on luck,” he said.
“With the success I had with her early on, she was quickly out-graded and I’ve had to go looking elsewhere for suitable races.
“I’ve always known 500 metres was her pet distance, but she does have the versatility to win over the 600 or the 400 at Ipswich, but a race like the Golden Ticket shortly after she’s run 29.7 looks right on time,” Macintosh said.
“It was a hell of a run in Best 8 company, she held Magical Hope by over two lengths that night and she’s since gone on to beat those dogs in last week’s Best 8 - if we bring that form we’re right in it.”
It’ll be no easy task clearing the speedy Dynamic Bill, but if she brings her best and camps on the leader, Macintosh says a heat win is not out of the question.
“Her box manners are going to have to be right on point if she wants to get across, I’ve always thought she never wants to be in there too long, so all the odds going up at once this week should help,” he said.
“She’s been hit or miss her entire career; on her night she can uncork a 5.5-second first section, but conversely makes it very hard on herself when she misses it which she can’t afford to do against this lot.
“The only way she beats Tommy Shelby is if she gets around the other two and onto his tail, then it’ll be some sort of a race.”
Having stuck with her through some lean patches, Macintosh is rapt to be considered for the Golden Ticket and it optimistic the best is ahead for the bitch.
“It’s a credit to her that she’s got a start in the 16-dog field, I’m sure there are plenty of good ones who missed out,” he said.
“I’m really pleased to see her getting back to some of her best racing at just over three-years-old, the Barcia Bale/Too Fonic dogs seem to peak around three-and-a-half, so she could still have some of her best times in the locker.
“It’s more mental maturity than anything physical, she’s always been strong and able to attack the line, I’m just starting to see a bit of common sense in her racing the more starts she has.”