ANTHONY Azzopardi won the Group 1 Ladbrokes Vic Peters Classic for the second time in three years last Saturday night as Crash Bandicoot emulated his champion sire Collision, record-breaking winner of the Vic Peters in 2003.
It was a triumphant homecoming for both Crash Bandicoot, which started his career in NSW in early 2017, and Azzopardi, who won the 2015 Vic Peters with superstar Zambora Brockie, shortly before deciding to relocate from Londonderry to Victoria.
“The Vic Peters is a great race to win, but at one stage I just couldn’t win it,” Azzopardi said.
“I tried to win the Vic Peters with some very good dogs, but wasn’t able to, and then all of a sudden ‘Brockie’ breaks the ice and now I’ve been able to win it again!”
In addition to the $75,000 Vic Peters winner’s purse, Crash Bandicoot, a July ’15 son of Collision and All American bitch J’s Robin (Lonesome Cry – Boy Trouble), earned a coveted berth in next Friday night’s (November 17) Melbourne Cup heats.
Crash Bandicoot will follow the same path as Zambora Brockie, which ran seventh to eventual winner Dyna Double One in a Melbourne Cup heat, although Azzopardi says that’s where comparisons between his two Vic Peters victors finish.
“Crash Bandicoot isn’t in the same class as ‘Brockie’,” Azzopardi offered emphatically.
“They’re totally different dogs. Crash Bandicoot holds his own – don’t worry about that – and he did a great job in all three weeks of the Vic Peters, but Brockie was a pretty special animal.
“I’m not saying Crash Bandicoot is going to win the Melbourne Cup, but he can run 29.30 at Sandown. He’s run it a few times in trials. He’ll be relying on good boxes and a bit of luck, but if he was able to make the final and draw a box, anything can happen!”
After three successive seconds at Sandown, Crash Bandicoot once again finished runner-up in his Vic Peters heat, beaten by local Mr Pupparazzi in a flying 29.66, before winning his semi-final in 29.93.
Crash Bandicoot started at $8 in the Classic after drawing awkwardly in box six and after charging into third in the back straight he railed superbly rounding the home turn and dashed clear, defeating fellow Victorian Chasin’ Crackers by 2.25 lengths in 30.21.
“I thought box six might have been his downfall,” Azzopardi said.
“We actually thought if he drew one, two, three or maybe four he was right in the race for sure, but I was concerned about box six. He just needed to get a clear run and when he got to third up the back I didn’t care what happened in front of him.
“The two (Shallay Pallay) caused some trouble, but Crash Bandicoot had them cold anyway.”
The Vic Peters triumph was Crash Bandicoot’s 11th win from 26 starts, while he’s been a model of consistency in 15 appearances for Azzopardi, missing a place only three times.
Crash Bandicoot was bred by leading NSW trainer Jodie Lord and is raced by Lord’s daughter Hayley Moffitt, continuing Azzopardi’s successful partnership with the Lords, which is highlighted by victories in the Group 1 Paws Of Thunder in 2016 with Asa Flying Spur and Group 2 Black Top and Group 3 Canberra Cup in 2015 with Uno Suzie.
“We’ve become very close family friends with the Lords, so it’s great to win a prestigious race like the Vic Peters for them,” Azzopardi said.
“Crash Bandicoot’s mother, J’s Robin, is one of the best bitches to have graced the track in America. They wrote a song about her – that’s how good she was!
“We earmarked Crash Bandicoot before he’d raced as a dog that would come down to Melbourne. We knew he was pretty good and Jodie said to me that we’ve got one here!
“He started off at Canberra and Goulburn and then after he won a race in town (30.09) he came down to Victoria. We threw him in the heats of the Peter Mosman Classic and he did no good, but then he won his first three starts in Victoria and he’s been very consistent ever since.
“The three trips back up to Sydney during the Vic Peters have done him the world of good and I’ve got to give a special thankyou to Kain Dyett, who did all the hard yards travelling three weeks in a row. I’m very proud to have him working for me.”