Big Black’s Thunder Warning

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Gerard Guthrie

12 Jan 2018

Written By Gerard Guthrie

BIG Black earned a crack at the Group 1 Ladbrokes Paws Of Thunder on Monday night when continuing his love affair with Nowra with a commanding victory in the Greg Myers Memorial Final.

Heading into the $3000 to-the-winner Greg Myers Memorial, Big Black, a hulking 37-kilogram February ’15 son of El Grand Senor and 2012 Golden Easter Egg finalist Time And Money, trained by Donna Campbell, had only been beaten once in four starts over 520m at Nowra.

That was when beaten favourite in the Group 3 Nowra Summer Puppy Classic last April behind litter brother and kennel mate Tiempo Dinero.

Drawn in box eight, as was the case in the Puppy Classic, Big Black started $1.90 favourite in the Greg Myers Memorial after a 30.18 heat victory, with Chris O’Brien’s fastest qualifier Bulkender (29.95) the $4.90 second elect.

Big Black worked his way across in the run to the first turn and after railing to the lead mid-race he forged clear to defeat Bulkender by 1.75 lengths in 30.25, his 18th win from 39 starts.

“He just tries so damned hard, that dog,” Donna Campbell said.

“I was a bit anxious about box eight because it’s a very short run to the corner at Nowra – even shorter than Wentworth Park – and it doesn’t give him a lot of time to get across, but he did! Once he found the fence I was confident.

“He’s such a big, long animal and he really wants the fence.

“He’s developed the habit of cutting down on the corners and angling in and he’s been getting the lucky breaks lately. He did exactly the same thing from box eight in the Puppy Classic, but then he ran into his kennelmate’s backside!”

With five wins from his last six starts, the defeat being a close fourth in a heat of the Group 3 Christmas Gift at Wentworth Park, Big Black will now face his toughest test to date in Saturday’s Paws Of Thunder heats.

The winner of three from six at Wentworth Park, Big Black will exit box four in the third of eight heats, where his opposition includes Adelaide Cup winner Raw Ability, classy Victorian Not Available and Monday’s runner-up Bulkender.

“The Paws Of Thunder was never really the plan!” Campbell laughed.

“But you’ve got to have a go. How often do you get a dog that’s good enough to even contemplate going into a race like this? The dog deserves a crack at it and so do the owners.

“It obviously won’t be easy, but he gives himself a chance because he makes his own luck and he’s a real thinker. His strike rate is close to 50 per cent and in all his unplaced runs – and there aren’t many of them – you could make excuses for him.”

On Saturday night, Campbell will have very mixed feelings as she watches the Group 2 TAB Warragul Cup Final, where Big Black’s litter brother Tiempo Dinero, now trained in Victoria by Michael Carter, will be chasing his second Group trophy.

“I can understand why the owners sent Tiempo Dinero to Victoria, but that doesn’t stop it hurting,” Campbell explained.

“It devastated me, but I’m still friends with the owners and I would love to see the dog win every start he has in Victoria.

“He’s just a big track dog and we only have three big tracks in NSW.

“He had 25 starts for me for 11 wins, 10 placings, a Group win and $45,000 prizemoney in 12 months, so I don’t know what else I could have done.

“I always put the dog first and I wasn’t prepared to risk running him at Wentworth Park. He was unplaced in his only two starts at Wentworth Park and was beaten about 40 lengths, so that tells you something.”

Having enjoyed a wonderful run with the El Grand Senor – Time And Money litter, Campbell is excitedly awaiting the arrival of another El Grand Senor litter by Time No Money, a Knocka Norris – Time And Money half-sister to Big Black and Tiempo Dinero, due later this week.

While Chris O’Brien had to settle for second place in the Greg Myers Memorial, he won the other feature event at Nowra on Monday, the $5000 to-the-winner Les Thompson Memorial Maiden, with impressive newcomer Gascoigne.

After a runaway 12-length 30.02 heat victory, Gascoigne, a superbly related May ’16 son of Banjo Boy and Tifi For Me, started $1.90 favourite from box one and made it two from two with a 30.29 victory.

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