QUEENSLAND trainer Tom Tzouvelis will be hoping for a change in luck for Maurice Minor after his charge drew box four in Saturday’s Group 2 Cranbourne Cup final.
The son of Cosmic Rumble and Shabeky was midfield early in his heat before finding himself sitting in second spot down the back straight, unleashing a huge finishing burst to score by six lengths in a best of night 30.09.
The time was particularly impressive considering Up Hill Jill (30.19) and Poke The Bear (30.16) – two of the best greyhounds in the country – recorded inferior times.
Tzouvelis said his chaser had lost some confidence after two career falls, but always had the talent to feature in big races across the country.
“He has always been a fast dog but he had some bad incidents in his career that have played on his mind a little bit,” said Tzouvelis.
“He fell at Albion Park earlier in his career and in the South Australian Derby he fell and hit the outside fence. His motor has always been there so I had always planned to head to Victoria for some of the Group races.
“We had a free hit at the stumps in the Traralgon Cup series but Cranbourne was always the one he was going to be set for as we felt the track was going to be right up his alley. We were certainly thrilled with his heat win, especially considering he went faster than Group stars like Up Hill Jill and Poke The Bear.
“His run-home time was about five lengths quicker than Poke The Bear so that’s certainly a big effort,” added Tzouvelis, who said his star can begin better than what he produced in his heat.
“He hasn’t timed the Melbourne starts as yet but he can begin pretty good on occasions. I would’ve loved to have drawn out wide to hopefully get a cart into the race from the likes of Up Hill Jill, but the key is if he can get a sit on them without finding too much trouble on the first corner.
“If he does, I think he is more than capable of making his presence felt. I think Poke The Bear is pretty well boxed, so he looks the biggest danger,” said Tzouvelis – the only interstate trainer with a runner in the Cranbourne Cup final.
“We’ve won Group races in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory, so we would love to tick Victoria off as well with this dog. I grew up in Victoria and my dad had runners in the Cranbourne Cup when I was a kid so it would be great to win one.”
Win, lose or draw, the Queensland-based trainer thinks a tilt at some middle distance races will be next on the agenda for Maurice Minor.
“Going back a few months I was going to step him up to 600 metres but he got injured and we’ve had him over the sprint trips upon his return, but I will definitely be making the step up in distance with him because I think he could really excel over the middle distances.”
The favourite for the 44th running of the Cranbourne Cup is Poke The Bear, who has been marked as a $2.70 favourite, just ahead of Up Hill Jill, at $2.80.
Maurice Minor is one of the outsiders at $16.