Barooga Smoke Set For Easter Gift Defence

BAROOGA Smoke will aim to defend his Easter Gift title at Sandown on Thursday and Brooke Ennis says the rising four year old is racing as well as ever.

Mick Floyd

13 April 2022

BAROOGA Smoke will aim to defend his group 3 Easter Gift title at Sandown Park on Thursday night and trainer Brooke Ennis says the rising four year old is racing as well as ever.

“His last two starts he’s been beaten in 25.00 and 25.06 (at Ballarat), you don’t often get beaten in those times,” said Ennis.

FIELDS AND FORM SANDOWN PARK THURSDAY

“Even before that he was beaten at The Meadows in a Free For All and he probably caused it himself by slipping off the mat. He’s had 60 odd starts and you’d think he’d have learnt to come out of the boxes a bit better!”

Barooga Smoke has been remarkably consistent across his two year career, boasting a 19-19-8 record from his 60 starts.

In addition to his Easter Gift victory, he also won the group 3 Cup Night Sprint at Sandown Park in November and has been a runner-up in two other group races.

According to Ennis, the key to his consistency at the sport’s higher levels is simple – he loves racing.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog in the kennel that loves it as much as he does. He knows Thursday night, it gets to Tuesday and he’s looking at me like, ‘it has to be Thursday we’ve got to go’.

“He’s an absolute pleasure to have. He can be bit of a bully at times – I struggle to hold him at most race meetings – and he’s worked out he absolutely hates box eight and is impossible to box. But it’s a big credit to him, and a massive credit to Jamie (Brooke’s husband) to get him where he is and keep him at that level for as long as he has.”

TAB rates Barooga Smoke a $6 chance to defend his Easter Gift title on Thursday night, and Ennis concedes that box four – as well as the quality of his opponents – makes it tough task. However she believes that if he does get beaten, it won’t be through a lack of effort on Barooga Smoke’s behalf.

“It’d be nice to win it again, but I think it’d be bit of a mission impossible this week.

“Robbie Rotten (box 5) has pace and wants to go to the fence and Idolize (box 1) is in such great form. It’s not the greatest draw, but I 100% know that I’m going there with a dog that just wants to race and will give everything he’s got to try and win, so a little bit of luck and you never know.”

Ennis is also represented by Old News which will jump from box six in the $25,000-to-the-winner feature. The son of Fernando Bale hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the group 2 Horsham Cup in early March, having been scratched from the heats of the Launching Pad.

“He’s going well. He’s a funny dog, he’s a hard dog to keep sound because he’s got a really bad wrist so he’s a race by race proposition really,” she added.

“But he’s drawn where he’ll race well from. He’s a dog with really good ability, he’s just got some really bad quirks – if you could take those away from him he’d be in the top lot of dogs but unfortunately you can’t change those habits. He might run a cheeky race from out there, I’m not too concerned about the draw.”

Ennis also provided an update on boom youngster Amron Boy. One of the favourites for the Launching Pad, Amron Boy overcame considerable interference to reach the semi-finals of the series, however failed to reach the final after again missing the start.

“We’ve got him nominated for a race at Bendigo this week, just get him back into his grade of racing, then depending on how it goes we’ll look at some country cups in the next few weeks.

“He’s missed the start at his last two starts which hasn’t been ideal. I was pretty gutted to see the way he came out last Thursday night and he was beaten around left right and centre, but that’s young dogs and I guess that’s why we haven’t got too excited, we’ve kept a lid on him so far because they can get beat.

“His run in the heats was enormous, it was really pleasing to see the way he handled himself, but he still has a lot of improving to do with those box manners. He might get quicker yet, you never know.

“We’re happy with where he’s at and we’ll keep it race to race and hopefully he can win some big ones.”

The Easter Gift is one of two feature races at Sandown on Thursday night, highlighted by the final of the $220,000 Launching Pad.