WHEN Mick Zammit trialled Alpha Aion a week before last Thursday’s Group 1 Brisbane Cup heats, the dog went 30.65.
It was pedestrian at best and Zammit, whose wife Selena is the new trainer for the dog, thought Alpha Aion might be lucky to win a fifth grade let alone a heat of a Group 1 series.
But last Thursday night, aided by the one box and a look at the Albion Park track, Alpha Aion led throughout to win in 29.86 and make his way into Thursday night’s $75,000-to-the-winner final for breeder/owner Chris Georgiou.
He scored by two and three-quarter lengths over Snug with three lengths to Watch The Wasp in third.
Zammit was happy to give Alpha Aion (Magic Sprite-Queen Of Cyprus) the benefit of the doubt following the lackluster trial.
“The dog obviously didn’t know where he was going in the trial but I’m the first to admit I didn’t know what to think about the trial,” he said.
“He jogged through the catching pen.”
And, despite drawing box five in this week’s Group 1 finale, Zammit gives the dog a great chance.
“He has got to be a hope,” he said.
“But, I really do think the eight (Fast Times) is a good thing in the final.”
Alpha Aion has won five of 33 starts and raced entirely in Victoria until sent north for the Brisbane Cup series.
“He had not won since being successful back in August at Sandown.
Despite the trial, Zammit admitted he was “not shocked” by the dog’s huge improvement.
“The trial did the trick,” he said.
“It gave him the look at the track he needed.”
MIXED EMOTIONS FOR McCARTHY
MIXED emotions engulfed leading Queensland trainer John McCarthy after Slick raced into this week’s Group 1 Brisbane Cup final (520m) when winning his heat last Thursday night at Albion Park.
The emotional rollercoaster started early for McCarthy who lost Slick’s litter brother, Group 2 Queensland Derby winner Rather Dapper, to a broken hock.
Unfortunately for McCarthy, Rather Dapper was about to go to the front in his heat of the Cup when his hock went.
“The track vet looked over the injury and advised he be put down,” said a devastated McCarthy.
Rather Dapper had started 36 times for nine wins and 13 placings and $90,000 in stakes. He was a multiple Group finalist and gave McCarthy his second Queensland Derby with his victory in that race early in the year.
Slick (Dyna Lachlan-Pearl Za Zinger) ran 29.91 to win his heat beating Off And On by three-quarters of a length with a half-length to early leader Jury in third.
It was his 42nd start for 15 wins and 15 placings and $81,000 in stakes.
Unfortunately for McCarthy and Slick, the dog has drawn his “favoured” box six in the final.
“I would have loved to see him in the two,” said McCarthy.
“It would have given him a great chance. But he has the six again.”
Slick has drawn six nine times in his career including in the Ipswich Gold Cup final two weeks ago when he was fourth to Outside Pass.
“I’m happy to be in the final with Slick,” said McCarthy.
“But losing Rather Dapper is very disappointing. But these things happen in racing.”
Slick has already been second in the Ipswich Auction and a finalist in the Rockhampton Cup.