FORMER Test cricketer Darren Pattinson is eyeing off the first Group 1 victory of his relatively short training career after powerhouse sprinter Blazin’ Bomber produced the standout performance in the heats of the Sky Racing Perth Cup last Saturday night.
Pattinson, who played one Test match for England in 2008 and is the brother of Australian fast bowler James, has made a remarkable sporting transition since taking up the collar and lead in mid-2013.
He won two Group 3 events in 2015 courtesy of the aptly-named Express Pace in the Vic Breeders and Blazin’ Bomber in the Cranbourne Puppy Classic, while Blazin’ Bomber also ran third in the Group 1 Vic Peters last October.
Blazin’ Bomber, a November ’13 son of Kinloch Brae and Absolute Stunna, was sidelined for the first three months of 2016 after sustaining an elbow injury when falling in a heat of the Cranbourne Cup on January 4.
In normal circumstances that injury would have ruled Blazin’ Bomber out of the Perth Cup, which was originally scheduled for late January, however as fate would have it, delays with the Cannington redevelopment saw the Perth Cup Carnival postponed to April.
After resuming with two best of night wins over 460m at Warragul, Blazin’ Bomber ventured to Perth for the heats of the $150,000 to-the-winner Cup, where he clashed with Jason Thompson’s Golden Easter Egg hero Moreira in the second of eight cut-throat run-offs.
Moreira started $2.40 favourite from box five, but Blazin’ Bomber, the $3.50 second elect from box three, began sweetly and drove to the lead at the first turn.
Moreira was in hot pursuit but Blazin’ Bomber refused to surrender his hard won advantage as he scored by three-quarters of a length in 29.85, improving his imposing record to 15 from 25 with the fastest heat performance
“I was rapt with the way he went,” Darren Pattinson said.
“It was his first 500 since January because he cracked a bone in his elbow when he fell in a Cranbourne Cup heat. The injury wasn’t too bad but we gave him plenty of time off. Going back to last year I always had the Perth Cup in mind for him. I thought it was a race he’d run well in and that the track would suit him.
“I knew the dog was going well and that if he got around the first turn unscathed he would be hard to beat.
“That’s probably the best he’s ever jumped. He’s been beginning well since he came back, being a bit fresh and a bit more mature, so hopefully he comes out like that again on Saturday night.
“Moreira was sitting behind him but I know my dog is very strong and whenever he’s led he’s been pretty hard to get past. Being his first 500 since he came back he could run home a bit better this week. He’d be an excellent 600m dog, but hopefully I won’t have to step him up again if he keeps going well over 500.
“He’s still only young and he’s eligible for the Derby over in Perth in three weeks so being an age-restricted race I’d have to look at keeping him here for that.”
Blazin’ Bomber was one of three sub-30 heat winners, with exciting local youngster Ramifications, trained by Chris Halse, improving his perfect record at the new Cannington to four from four when clocking 29.88, while John Iwanyk’s Ima Wagtail ran 29.97.
Another Victorian in Angela Langton’s Shared Equity ran 30.02, while locals won the remaining four heats, with Tim Mullany’s former Tasmanian Lorus Time running 30.11, Paul Stuart’s Tiggerlong Await 30.23, Mike Johnston’s Katsuro Sahara 30.26 and Brian Jacobson’s Miracle upsetting Moreira’s star kennelmate Dalgetty in 30.60.
After drawing box three for the second week running Blazin’ Bomber shares favouritism at $2.80 in bet365’s Perth Cup market with Ramifications, which has drawn box two, and first reserve Moreira.
“I’m very happy to draw box three again but it will come down to whether he gets through the first turn or not,” Pattinson offered.
“Group 1 races are very hard to win so you can’t be over confident but if you could tell me he’s going to get through the first turn without any interference and be thereabouts I’d be very confident.
“Ramifications ran a really good race in its heat and off that run it will be hard to beat and I think the red (Ima Wagtail) has got some pace too.
“It would be great to win a Group 1 and I think Blazin’ Bomber’s definitely good enough. I think he deserves to win a Group 1 and it would be an injustice if he went through his career without winning one so hopefully Saturday will be his night.”