By Isaac Murphy
The owners of New South Wales greyhound Drink Schooners will be able to down plenty if the Michelle Sultana trained dog can qualify for the $150,000 Group 1 Winter Cup by winning heat 1 at Albion Park on Thursday night.
Drink Schooners is one of a strong contingent of interstate dogs chasing the lucrative group one and trainer Michelle Sultana believes strong Wentworth Park form and a solid Queensland preparation will have her primed for the first of the heats tomorrow night.
“He’s been racing all the top dogs at Wentworth Park for a few weeks now and I was looking to do something else with him and the Winter Cup came at the right time,” Sultana said.
“I sent him up to Tony Apap last week so he could trial before his first run at the track and he’s been up there ever since.”
“I know Tony as far as I remember, he’s been like an uncle to me, so I was very comfortable sending him there.”
Despite strong fields Sultana was happy drawing box two, giving her dog a fair chance in running.
“He does prefer an inside box, but in saying that it’s a really hard race and he needs to be on song and come out running,” she said
“His first sections are really critical, he’s probably not as strong as some of them coming home, but you never know what’s going to happen if he can get to the first corner in a good spot.”
Sultana said she is hopeful Drink Schooners could book a finals berth tomorrow night, but regardless of result, hoped her dog would continue to acclimatise in Queensland for the upcoming Origin Series.
“We’ve sent him up there with the belief he can make the final, “she said.
He should be ready for the Origin series (July 12), he’ll have been up there for a few weeks and had a good look at the track, he’s been racing the top dogs down here every week and his forms been pretty consistent, so we were hoping he would be picked.”
Sultana gave credit to the owners for the naming of the dog, which has formed a cult following from punters.
“There’s four guys who own him, one is a school teacher, one works in the mines and then there is a father and son who flip houses, I think the one thing the bonds them together is they love a drink, hence the name,” she said.
Other interstate greyhounds competing over the five heats include Australian Cup Winner Hector Bale, Mepunga Blazer for Jeff Britton and temporary Queenslander’s Not Available and Benali, running out of the Steve Scott kennel via Victorian Trainer Robert Britton.