By Isaac Murphy
Group One National Derby winner Oh Mickey hadn’t put a foot wrong since his January triumph, but the Clint Kratzmann trained youngster who turns two today faced his biggest test yet last Friday night in the open class heats of the Richmond Derby, but again stepped up to the plate a sizzling 30.52 first look at the track seeing him line up a live chance in this week’s Group Two Final.
“I drove him back from Sydney after he won the Derby, but this was his first significant trip away to a race at a track he’d never seen before,” Kratzmann said.
“Couple that with the fact he’s competing against open company, you could say I’ve thrown him in the deep end to a certain extent, but he’s learnt how to swim.”
Kratzmann took every precaution to get his prized cargo to the track and one hundred percent, but the daunting road trip proved no obstacle.
“We left at two in the morning on Friday had about four or five stops on the way down, to give him a drink and breakfast, all week I increased his food by fifteen percent to offset his weight loss,” he said.
“In the end it worked out perfectly he got down there in great condition, probably slept three quarters of the way it was a big relief to know he’s a good traveller.”
“With a dog like him that you know you’re going to be doing a fair bit of travel with to get to the top races it was a big deal to see him handle it.”
Oh Mickey was pipped by one hundredth of a second in his heat after almost leading the entire trip and after coming up with the eight in the final thought he was a real chance to lead again.
“I think the two early speed dogs in the race are King Cratos (7) and us (8), King Cratos can miss it on the odd occasion but I can certainly see us coming across with him early,” Kratzmann said.
“King Cratos is the dog to beat and I’m glad he’s out there with us and not getting a cushy run on the fence, if we can clear him early, he wants the fence and could clear the runway for us to that first turn.”
“You don’t want a Zipping Zeke on Tennessee Tiger on you’re hammer because they can come over the top, but I really believe if we can lead, we win the race, the full field plays to our favour.”
Mickey could have been forgiven for being a bit green seeing the unique Richmond circuit for the first time, Kratzmann’s first impressions telling him it would be a big ask.
“In the six weeks he was down with Troy Donaldson for the National Derby he got a look at Gosford and the Gardens, but at the stage the Richmond Derby didn’t seem like a race for him given it was open class, so it was his first look last Friday,” he said.
“I had a look around the track a couple of hours before the race, I knew the dimensions would be different than what we have at home, but I didn’t know just how different.”
“I’d describe it as a two turn one turn track if that makes sense, big sweeping corners the circumference is far larger than Albion Park, Ipswich or Wentworth Park for that matter.”
Not expecting such significant differences Kratzmann admitted there were moments of doubt before the heat, but it was all systems go for the Final.
“I was a bit concerned because apart from his box manners I look at him as a one speed high paced dog and on a track like Richmond it really gives backmarkers and strong six hundred metre dogs the chance to catch him as Tennessee Tiger did on Friday,” Kratzmann said.
“In saying that all my worries were gone after the run, to go out on foreign terrain and do that first time the extra fifteen metres and the configuration of the track didn’t bother him one bit.”
Kratzmann is adamant the Group Two Final isn’t beyond the ten start two-year-old this Friday night and plans to charge forward into some of Australia’s biggest races.
“It’s all about Friday night of course, then onto the Easter Egg and back up for our Winter Carnival in Brisbane,” he said.
“Hopefully we’re down here for a little longer if he can progress through the Easter Egg, but after that we’re looking at a good three months at home, where the good dogs have to come and face him on his turf.”
“The Brisbane Carnival is so jam packed with good races and outstanding prize money you don’t have to leave home; I think we’re both looking forward to it.”
A relative unknown on the national scene before his Group One win the dog from Brisbane North’s Warner has made an impression on some of the sport’s best.
“He’s starting to get the recognition he deserves, in the wash down area after the race Jason Magri who has King Cratos and Zipping Zeke in the final at their home track came to me and complemented the run saying dogs don’t just come here and do that first look,” Kratzmann said.
“At the box draw when we got the eight Peter Lagogiane came to me and said mate don’t worry about that you’re in this up to your eyeballs, for guys like that to share the same opinion you have of your dog is flattering.”
“It was another opportunity for me to observe a few top trainers turn out their dogs in immaculate condition and I’m slowly picking up little gems to incorporate into my routine.”