A WELCOME return to his beloved Angle Park saw former South Australian cult hero Worm Burner bounce back to his brilliant best in last Thursday night’s Group 1 UBET Adelaide Cup heats.
Worm Burner, the 2016 SA Greyhound of the Year, famously won the National Sprint Championship at Angle Park last year and also finished runner-up in the Adelaide Cup and third in the Melbourne Cup, before owner/trainer Cameron Butcher transferred him to champion Victorian mentors Jason and Seona Thompson in February.
Last Thursday’s Adelaide Cup expedition into very familiar territory came at a perfect time for Worm Burner, with the December ’13 son of Oaks Road and Little Looper’s recent form below par, having won only one of his previous six starts.
Drawn in box two, Worm Burner started $1.80 favourite and the writing was on the wall when he railed into second behind ex-Victorian Barton Bale rounding the first bend.
The hometown hero stormed to the front turning for home and careered away, defeating local High Eden Snow by 4.75 lengths in a fast 29.59, his 47th win from 81 starts, with 38 of those victories incredibly coming over 515m at Angle Park.
“Coming back to Angle Park certainly didn’t do him any harm!” Cameron Butcher quipped.
“It was very pleasing, because I thought his previous run at Sandown was a bit disappointing. Ever since he got cleaned up in the National Sprint heats at Sandown his form hasn’t been that good. Coming back home might have helped; I suppose we’ll find out next week.
“We didn’t have any runners at Angle Park last Thursday but we went out to see Worm Burner. We hadn’t seen him since February and he looked really good, especially going past the winning post!
“He’s drawn box six for the final and while Jason (Thompson) said he would have preferred one, two or three, he did win the National Sprint Championship out of box six, so you never know.
“Jason doesn’t want to send him back to us yet, so after Friday night he’ll go back to Victoria for the big races coming up over there.”
Victorians, and in particular three-time Adelaide Cup winners Jason and Seona Thompson, who have won the race with Whippy’s Image (2008), El Galo (2009) and last year with Aqua Cheetah, dominated the six Adelaide Cup heats.
Worm Burner completed a heat treble for the Thompsons after Aston Dee Bee and Bewildering, which started at $1.65 and $1.55 respectively, were impressive winners on debut at Angle Park, scoring in vastly differing style.
Aston Dee Bee, an April ’15 son of Barcia Bale and Aston Elle, continued his sensational recent form when prevailing in a stirring duel with fellow Victorian Raw Ability, scoring by three-quarters of a length in 29.60, his 24th win from 43 starts and eighth from his last ten.
Bewildering, a February ’15 son of the Thompson kennel’s 2013 Melbourne Cup victor Black Magic Opal and Outlandish, powered home to defeat local High Eden Frost by 4.25 lengths in a best of night 29.52, his 13th win from 29 starts.
After once again drawing box eight for Friday night’s $75,000 to-the-winner Cup Final, Bewildering is the $2.60 favourite with Ladbrokes, ahead of Aston Dee Bee, the $4 second elect from box two, while Worm Burner is a $6.50 chance after drawing awkwardly in six.
“I can’t split Aston Dee Bee and Bewildering,” Jason Thompson offered.
“Worm Burner knows every grain of sand at Angle Park and he’s not without a chance, but he probably couldn’t have drawn any worse. He’s only a couple of months off turning four years old and I’m just very proud of him for making another Adelaide Cup Final.
“Aston Dee Bee had never been to Angle Park before and was coming off a couple of half-circle runs at Geelong, so to do what he did against a very good dog (Raw Ability) was a top effort. Aston Dee Bee can handle a wide draw but he’s far better off drawn down near the fence.
“Bewildering got a little bit lost in his heat and he’s probably got more upside than the other two because he’s a dog that needs a look at a track to produce his best.
“Aston Dee Bee is flying and if he begins and leads it will be very hard for any dog to run him down because he’ll be high-balling and running time. Bewildering has the same draw as last week and if they tighten up on the inside, which could happen, he’ll be clear of the trouble. Hopefully he’ll be in a good spot down the back and we know how strong he is!”
The only heat disappointment for the Thompsons came when defending Cup champion Aqua Cheetah ran fifth to Brett Bravo’s two-time Group 1 winner Striker Light, which ran 29.92.
The other Victorian heat winner was Kel Greenough’s Zara’s Entity, which clocked 29.83 after trialling in a scintillating 29.29 one week earlier, while Cairnlea Kenny, trained by Petar Jovanovic, provided the only local joy when claiming the final heat in 29.77.
Box 1: HIGH EDEN FROST (Banjo Boy x Zardae)
Wht & Black Dog Feb ‘15 Starts: 35-18-9-1 APK: 29-13-9-0 Best: 29.63
Owner: Jones Jones Syndicate Trainer: Janice Jones
Local star who qualified with a courageous second to Bewildering in his heat last Thursday night. Box one record is fabulous, has the track experience and is hugely consistent. Obviously runs into the hottest race he’s ever contested tonight but is sure to do connections proud, will have a pile of speed carving across his way early tonight.
Box 2: ASTON DEE BEE (Barcia Bale x Aston Elle)
Black Dog April ‘15 Starts: 43-24-3-5 APK: 1-1-0-0 Best: 29.60
Owner: Raymond Borda Trainer: Seona Thompson
Pound for pound, thought his effort to land his heat last week narrowly over Raw Ability in 29.60 was the performance of the night. Was new to the track but never shirked his task, he’s a dead set star and in superlative form, drawn to get right there but will have Striker Light carving across outside him. My pick for the big one, deserves a group 1 beside his name and this just may be it.
Box 3: STRIKER LIGHT (Kc And All x Pretty Fancy)
Black Bitch March ‘15 Starts: 36-19-8-1 APK: 1-1-0-0 Best: 29.92
Owner: Farrugia Bravo Syndicate Trainer: Brett Bravo
Multiple group 1 winning bitch who ran her rivals ragged in her heat before tiring late to clock 29.92. That obviously won’t get it done tonight so she’ll need to find some in the run home which at her best she’s more than capable of. Looks the leader and strange things can happen in big races, will need to pinch a handy break but the double figure quote on offer does seem overs for a bitch of her class.
Box 4: RAW ABILITY (Barcia Bale x Bugatti Flyer)
Black Dog March ‘15 Starts: 24-12-2-3 APK: 2-0-1-1 Best: 29.64
Owner: Kylee Osborne Trainer: Anthony Azzopardi
Ran a mighty second behind Aston Dee Bee in his heat last week continuing what’s been a marvelous month or two of racing. Began his career in dazzling fashion setting tracks alight and is now becoming the group 1 performer he promised to be. On face value 4 doesn’t sound ideal but inside will go quick and left while Cairnlea Kenny on his outside isn’t flash away. Big task but not without claims tonight.
Box 5: CAIRNLEA KENNY (Premier Fantasy x Cairnlea Ellie)
Black Dog April ‘15 Starts: 28-11-10-2 APK: 25-11-10-2 Best: 29.47
Owner: Jan Hubbard Trainer: Petar Jovanovic
Super talented local for Petar Jovanovic no stranger to putting the polish on a good one. Has another one here in Cairnlea Kenny who has a big finish on him when the breaks go his way. Six obviously not ideal and he’s going to be giving some good ones a start tonight but with some luck he can charge home into the money, one thing about him, he won’t give up, no matter where he is in the run.
Box 6: WORM BURNER (Oaks Road x Little Looper)
Brindle Dog Dec ‘13 Starts: 80-47-10-10 APK 56-38-8-5 Best: 29.17
Owner: Butcher Butcher Syndicate Trainer: Seona Thompson
Ran out of words to describe this fella, he really is something else. Relished returning to Angle Park in his heat chalking up his 38th win at the track, yes 38th, in 29.59. Second in this race last year, and he’s still the one to my eyes they still all have to beat. If he wins – I hope the club has crowd control out in full force, because the locals will go berserk!
Box 7: ZARA’S ENTITY (Mogambo x Girl Aloud)
Black Bitch April ‘15 Starts: 14-8-3-1 APK: 1-1-0-0 Best: 29.83
Owner: Maureen Barry Trainer: Kelvyn Greenough
Least experienced of the finalists but what she lacks in that department she certainly makes up for in ability. Did it the hard way to land her heat so the time not really a factor, her times in Victoria are well documented, her chances will come down to how she begins, if she nails it, right in the mix but she’s got some mighty gallopers drawn underneath her.
Box 8: BEWILDERING (Black Magic Opal x Outlandish)
Black Dog Feb ‘15 Starts: 29-13-6-1 APK: 1-1-0-0 Best: 29.52
Owner: See The Dream Syndicate Trainer: Seona Thompson
Set the time standard in the heats running 29.52 from this box and the scary thing for his rivals tonight is he really never looked to hit top gear – more feeling his way around. If he finds a bit off the run here last week it’s an ominous sign for his opponents. Get the feeling that may be the case and he’ll get all the room in the world early to get into his gears! And he has a few of them at that! Fastest dog in the land, no question!