By Isaac Murphy
With the race's recent elevation to Group 2 status, the Townsville Cup continues to attract Queensland’s best dogs year in and year out.
Even though the Cup heats are more than a month away, North Queensland trainer Harold Hovi is already hard at work with his three hopefuls: Excuse Me Jack, Redemption Day and On A High, who represent the best chance for a local winner in years.
All three dogs are flying and Hovi is hoping he can maintain their form and fulfill a lifelong dream of winning his hometown Cup.
“I gave them both (Excuse Me Jack and Redemption Day) a bit of a break after the Young Guns a couple of months ago just to freshen them up for a Townsville Cup tilt and the signs are good,” Hovi said.
“I went and trialled them over the 498 metres the other day and Redemption Day went within a whisker of the track record with Excuse Me Jack not too far behind.
“There was a lot of hype around Excuse Me Jack early in his career people forgot about Redemption Day, who I actually think might be the better 498 metre dog in the long run.”
Young Guns winner Excuse Me Jack has been a revelation, winning his first five starts over the shorts, but Hovi said Tuesday’s victory over the traditional sprint was his best win yet.
“Jack had his first start over the 498 metres on Tuesday night and despite getting knocked around early didn’t take a backward step,” he said.
“He’s so used to leading over the 380 metres I thought he might shirk the task, but he kept moving forward and ended up winning in the time of the night by over five lengths.
“I was really impressed, if ever he was vulnerable, it would have been that race, he should only go from strength to strength now.”
Excuse Me Jack and Redemption Day are litter brothers out of My Redeemer and Fancy Nancy and Hovi has been able to follow a similar method with both of them.
“I haven’t done too much different with him or any of the other dogs for that matter, I tend to train them all the same way and why change a winning formula,” he said.
“I always knew he’d run over more ground; it was just a case of holding him back until he was ready, I’ve got to remind myself he’s just turned two.
“I’ll look to get Redemption Day up to the distance probably next week and try to give them as many starts as possible before the Townsville Cup.”