Six And Out For Tornado Tears?

THE tale of the tape presents a mixed message for defending champion Tornado Tears and trainer Robert Britton ahead of Friday night’s Group 1 RSN Sandown Cup (715m).

Gerard Guthrie

21 May 2019

THE tale of the tape presents a mixed message for defending champion Tornado Tears and trainer Robert Britton ahead of Friday night’s Group 1 RSN Sandown Cup (715m).

Tornado Tears enjoys a great affinity with Sandown Park, boasting a perfect seven from seven record over the 715m course, highlighted by Group 1 victories in last year’s Sandown Cup and National Distance Championship.

He’s also won five from six over 595m for good measure.

However, Tornado Tears’ hopes of going back-to-back in the $175,000 to-the-winner Cup, the world’s richest staying race, took a major hit when the son of the great Fernando Bale drew box six, although TAB has still installed him as a dominant $1.65 favourite.

While Tornado Tears has an imposing career record of 24 from 36, his green vest statistics don’t make for great reading; being unplaced at all three starts, the most recent when finishing last at $1.90 in the Group 1 Association Cup at Wentworth Park on April 20.

“It’s not a great draw,” conceded Robert Britton.

“You can either talk yourself out of it or put him in the box and hope for some luck and a cleanly run race. You’ve just got to cop it.

“He has won from outside boxes before – he had box seven in last year’s Sandown Cup – but he hasn’t had a lot of luck out of six.

“His biggest fault is probably that he wants the fence quite badly as he gets to the first turn and he can bring about his own undoing.”

Tornado Tears is striving to become the sixth multiple Sandown Cup winner, following the immortal four-time victor Bold Trease (1986-89), Paul’s Thunder (1970-71), Lizrene (1972-73), Irma Bale (2012-13) and Sweet It Is (2014-15).

Britton will be chasing a Sandown Cup hat-trick, having won the race for the first time in 2017 with another superstar in Fanta Bale.

“It’s funny, because up until two years ago it was always a race I couldn’t win,” Britton explained.

“Space Star started $1.30 (in 2015) and led easily but tore a monkey muscle. When that happened I thought I’m never going to win this race!”

Britton once again demonstrated his masterful conditioning skills in last Thursday’s Cup heats, where Tornado Tears, which was making his first appearance in a month, started at $1.04 from box five.

Tornado Tears settled second in a field of six and after railing to the lead mid-race he careered away, romping to a nine-length victory over NSW visitor Two Times Twice in 41.37s, easily the fastest of the four heats and the ninth quickest time ever recorded at Sandown.

“I certainly believe he’s got improvement in him,” Britton said.

“Everything went to plan. He probably had the weakest heat, it was a small field and he didn’t get into a lot of trouble. It’s obviously a different race on Friday.

“I was fairly concerned going into the heats. I thought if he got into trouble and got back he mightn’t have the petrol tickets but as it turned out I worried unnecessarily.”

Britton also has the fastest qualifier for Friday’s Group 1 Sapphire Crown in kennel newcomer Neo Cleo, which improved her undefeated record under Britton’s guidance to four from four with a flying 29.23s heat success.

Winner of the Group 1 Sale Cup last December, Neo Cleo started $1.60 in her Sapphire heat after completing a Group 3 Sandown double in the Group 3 Easter Gift (515m) and Group 3 Race Callers Speed Star (595m) at her previous two starts.

Despite also drawing six for the $100,000 to-the-winner Sapphire, Neo Cleo is the $2.10 TAB favourite, while litter brother Blackjack Neo, also prepared by Britton, is a $21 outsider in the Group 1 Harrison-Dawson after drawing the outside alley.

“Six, six and eight – we didn’t have much luck with boxes,” Britton offered ruefully.

“Neo Cleo has been great for us.

“She’s begun really well at her last couple of starts and I think that’s the key to her because she’s got the strength – she can run 600m – and if she jumps like she did last week she’ll be very hard to beat.”