By Isaac Murphy
Cooper Dooper announced himself to the greyhound world a year ago when running second to Australian Greyhound of the Year Simon Told Helen in the Queensland Derby.
He backed it up finishing fourth in the Golden Ticket Final behind track record holder Sennachie, and while it hasn’t been the smoothest year for the dog, trainer Tommy Tzouvelis thinks the Golden Ticket is the perfect format for him to find his best.
“Cooper’s never been your fastest dog out of a box, the more running room he gets the better he goes - if he gets clear running, he’s as quick as any dog going around,” Tzouvelis said.
“Other dogs who are brilliant early can have his measure in an eight-dog field if they get to the front and scoot away, but in the smaller field I can’t see anyone getting the fly and he’ll get the chance to stretch out down the back and on the way home.
“He got down to the 29.6 range last year when he finished fourth in this race behind Sennachie, I don’t expect him to go that quick this week, but I think if he can break 30 and go around the 29.8 mark he gives himself every chance and next week he should be one hundred percent.”
The Golden Ticket was always the target and despite a setback, the trainer has pulled out all stops to have him ready.
“It’s been a bit of a scramble to get him back from injury, he damaged his stopper tendon in the Lismore Cup heats, but we were determined to get him back for this race and he’ll be right in the contest tomorrow night,” Tzouvelis said.
“We’re a little concerned about his fitness; another week or two would have been perfect, but we trialled him at Albion over the 395 and he went 22.60 which is what he runs and then he went to the 431 at Ipswich and went 24.93 last week, so he’s putting the times on the board.
“It’s all about getting through in the first two this week, if he can get to the one-on-one match race not only does it give him another week, but he’s proven he can compete in the format.”