By Isaac Murphy
Darren Russell completed a clean sweep of last weeks Group One Gold Cup Heats and he sees no reason why Bago Bye Bye and Bago Bluff can't repeat the dose in Thursday night's final.
Bago Bye Bye took out heat one, before newcomer Bago Bluff beat a bumper field at huge odds in heat two at 'The Creek' last Thursday.
And, despite strong opposition in Tornado Tears and Dyna Chancer, Russell thinks there’s no reason his duo can’t go one-two in this week’s final.
Bago Bye Bye has been a star from the start for Russell, having already tasted Group One success when winning the Christchurch Cup in New Zealand last year, making him a proven commodity.
Bago Bluff turned heads with a 30.2 debut run in the Vince Curry Series earlier this year, but had Russell scratching his head until he has seemingly found a home over the staying trip.
Bago Bye Bye set the benchmark in last week’s heats, getting to the top early and highballing his way to a 41.47sec, six-length victory.
Russell believes despite some challenges with his draw (6) he deserves his tag as second elect to Tornado Tears this week.
“They don’t go much faster than he did in his heat (41.47) and you always hope you have them cherry ripe for the final, he’ll take a world of beating if he can go faster than that,” Russell said.
“Our biggest challenge early is Poco Dorado, drawn directly outside us we know she can ping and try to get to the rails, other than that the only real speed inside him is Dyna Chancer and I reckon Bago Bluff can go with him early.
“Ideally we can get to the front again, he confirmed last week when he ran away from them that he’s a true stayer and with Tornado Tears recent pattern of getting back as good as he is I can’t see him or any other catching us if he gets the fly.”
Rugging up for Queensland in the Origin Distance Final Bago Bye Bye looked a hot commodity, but never fired a shot, Russell admitting he was still learning what made him tick with just seven starts over the staying trip.
“I gave him a freshen up after his Origin run where he was a bit dour a couple of starts back, I didn’t do anything with him during the week and his run home in his heat was the best it’s ever been,” Russell said.
“Even though he’s a seasoned Group One dog I have to remind myself he’s predominantly been over a sprinter, so as a trainer I’m still finding what makes him tick.”
Russell said while Bago Bye Bye is deservedly his number one shot, a cosy box draw and room for improvement has him bullish about Bago Bluff who won his heat at $61 last week.
“It was a matter of when not if he was going to get to the seven hundred, he had that raw speed in a few of his 520’s, but he was a big striding gangling dog over the sprint trip he’s definitely enjoying a bit more time to wind up,” Russell said.
“If he can lead again and a dog like Dyna Chancer heads him he’s got that good mid race sectional down the back where he can take over again.”
“As we saw last week once he got to the top he can stay and if he can get down around that 41.7 again he’s going to be right in the mix and I’m hoping with natural improvement he can still find a few lengths.”
Russell has had a long association and friendship with Greg Watts who owns both dogs and said it Thursday would be a big night for all concerned regardless of result.
“Greg’s (Watts) coming up from his place down south with a few mates, it could be a pretty big night celebrating if we win and equally as big drowning our sorrows if we don’t,” Russell laughed.