By Isaac Murphy
There is no better man than Tony Brett to guide a dog towards the new-look Brisbane Cup.
Brett has won the Brisbane Cup on four occasions and has claimed the Winter Cup on six of the past eight occasions.
With the Brisbane Cup now moving to the winter time-slot and being worth $375,000, the Hall of Fame trainer could make it seven Group 1 winter sprints in the space of nine years.
His campaign begins on Thursday night with ex-Victorians Deliver and Black Opium, which will line up in the Brisbane Cup heats.
Both dogs are incredibly well performed in Victoria and the have hit the ground running since arriving in Queensland.
“Jason (Thompson) rung me and said if you’re happy to take them we’ll move these two up to you for the carnival to race them up here then they’ll head back home,” Brett said.
“I was thrilled, Charming Chaos and Bad Benny were my main two hopes for the Brisbane Cup and both succumbed to injury, if I hadn’t got that phone call I wouldn’t be taking much part in the carnival.
“Very humbling to be the first choice to take on two serious greyhounds, Black Opium has run second in The Australian Cup and Deliver is a Group One winner over the 600, it’s not often you pick up a couple of that class even if it’s temporary.”
The duo’s results have been remarkable since arriving in the Sunshine State.
Black Opium won her heat of The Flying Amy Classic in 29.54 racing without luck in the final.
Deliver has overcome two tough runs to win his first two starts.
“They’d both trialled over the 450m at Shepparton before they came up, then I gave them the one trial when they got up here and away we went,” Brett said.
“They’re two seasoned race dogs and the way our kennels are set up, being pretty hands on they settled right in and raced accordingly.”
Despite their credentials Brett hasn’t had a huge amount of time to wrap his head around what makes the dogs tick and the differences in their racing patterns.
“Before I got them I thought if Black Opium didn’t lead she wouldn’t win, I just didn’t think she had that strength, but she’s proved me wrong with her run home’s in her trial and subsequent races,” Brett said.
“She obviously still needs to be in the front half and ideally she’ll ping lead and go on with it like she did first up, that’s what we’re hoping for out of box six on Thursday where she tends to jump well from the middle of the track.”
Brett said Deliver while Deliver is not quite as rapid as Black Opium out of the boxes his race sense was second to none.
“He’s the type of dog that seems to do whatever it takes to win a race, I’ve got no doubt he can go quicker than he has, but to win his two races up here in the manner he has I couldn’t be more impressed, “Brett said.
“He ran past Neo Cleo for Robbie Britton last week who’s a very strong dog and sure to be a contender for the Cup as well, so all signs are positive for him.
“He’s drawn the red which I’m not sure will suit him or not, he’s happy to go around dogs and sit off the track, but I’m hoping it might get him out a bit quicker and if he can follow the rail home like last week he has that Group One six hundred metre pedigree.”
Brett’s remarkable success in the race is no fluke and the master trainer believes both greyhounds hold a significant advantage over their rivals.
“These races are all about timing and I’ve been really lucky having these two around for a few weeks before the heats on Thursday it’s a massive advantage, they haven’t had to travel they’ve just been relaxing waiting to go,” he said.
“I know how difficult it is to travel I’ve been doing it for years and some just don’t handle it, they’ve got the ability but it’s another hurdle they have to jump over.”
Despite their temporary status Brett hopes the Queensland punters can get behind the pair in on paper looks like a race for the interstater’s.
“Because they’ve been here for a few starts we like to adopt them as Queenslanders and there is nothing like a hometown victory,” Brett said.
“I was one of the loudest there last Thursday cheering for Darren’s (Russell) dog (Bago Bye Bye) in the Gold Cup, they might be New South Wales owned, but Darren is a Queensland trainer and we always support our own.”