By Isaac Murphy
Veteran chaser Maurice Minor can stand up and be counted in Thursday's TAB Origin Sprint (520m) according to his trainer Tommy Tzouvelis.
Maurice Minor has long been regarded as one of Queensland’s strongest sprint dogs with a personal best of 29.55 over the 520 at Albion Park.
So it comes as no surprise the four-year-old chaser has been handpicked to take on a formidable New South Wales team.
The dog has had a chequered build up to the big race spelled for two months after a slight injury in the heats of the Cranbourne Cup, but an impressive home track victory as well as a promising history in the race has Tzouvelis confident Maurice has the goods.
“I’m rapt to be involved again especially with this dog, he finished third in this race last year and to have another go at almost four-years of age is really exciting,” Tzouvelis said.
“I’m quietly confident he can run a race, he tends to get out a bit quicker when he’s fresh and at run number five back from his spell I think he’s getting the strength in his legs to do it at both ends.”
Drawing the five in a race of this calibre would be a concern for most dogs, but Tzouvelis said it didn’t bother the veteran where he jumped from, rather who he was running against.
“I’m not too worried about the box (5) more so the competition he’s up against," he said.
“Talking New South Wales dogs, you’ve got Golden Easter Egg winner Zipping Bailey, Million Dollar Chase winner Mystic Riot, Jamella Jet who trialled the house down here last week and Good Odds Harada who’s one on the way up, it’s a big task.
“I think Dam Slippery looks the clear leader of the race, her trial was excellent, I’m hoping we can find a spot just behind the speed on the back of a Zipping Bailey or Jamella Jet to bring us into the race.”
On recent form the Queensland quartet of Maurice Minor, Dam Slippery, Regal Recall and Silver Stunner are understandable underdogs, but Tzouvelis thinks the team complement each other well.
“I give the Queenslanders a better chance than the odds indicate, if Dam Slippery leads it’s a hell of a task to get past her, Regal Recall will be haring across from the six while Maurice and Silver Stunner will be running home strong, it’s a nice mix,” he said.
“The New South Wales dogs have the times on the board, but as you see in a lot of Group finals which I regard this race as it’s not always the fastest dog who wins, you can’t undersell the runs these Queensland dogs have in their own backyard.
After seventy-two starts Maurice Minor has won or placed on forty-eight occasions and although still racing well Tzouvelis knows the end is closer than the start.
“He’s coming to the end of his tenure, but I’m still of the opinion he has some really nice races in him, we’ll nominate for the Brisbane Cup, but you’ve got regional Cups in Townsville and Darwin between then where he’ll be right up to the grade,” he said.
“That will probably mark the end of his racing career even if he doesn’t make it that far he owes me nothing he’s given me plenty of thrills, I’ve got my fingers crossed there is maybe one or two more.”
“I’m very keen to breed with him when we call it a day, you’re not going to find too many greyhounds with a motor like him and if his progeny is half as good as he is I’ll be a happy man.”