Thompson Can't Split Star Shootout Duo
JASON Thompson can’t separate Alpha Zulu and Transponder ahead of Saturday night’s $72,500 G3 Shootout at Sandown Park.
All-conquering trainer Jason Thompson can't separate favourite Alpha Zulu and last start runaway Group 1 Topgun hero Transponder ahead of Saturday night's $72,500 G3 Shootout (515m) at Sandown Park.
The always intriguing $50,000 to-the-winner four-greyhound Shootout is the headline event on the second night of the $4.1 million Dream Chasers Festival.
Jason Thompson is eyeing a fifth family Shootout success, having won the race with Whisky Assassin (2004), Proven Nitro (2012) and Hooked On Scotch (2019), while wife Seona was victorious with Aston Dee Bee (2018).
"I couldn't be happier with the way both dogs are drawn and I can't split the two of them. I could not split them," Thompson said.
Transponder opened the Dream Chasers carnival in a blaze of glory when romping to a five-length Topgun triumph, clocking a flying 29.70sec to claim his second G1 trophy in four starts after winning the Adelaide Cup last month.
Brilliant young kennelmate Alpha Zulu ran third in the Topgun as $2.10 favourite.
But despite his Topgun heroics and a perfect draw in seven, from where he's won three from four, Transponder, a son of Thompson's dual G1 winner Deliver, is the outsider of the Shootout field with Sportsbet at $4.20.
"That is strange," Thompson said of Transponder's price.
"He's absolutely drawn to perfection. He loves middle to wide; he loves Sandown and he's coming off a great win last week.
"The other three dogs want to be down on the fence, so nothing is going to hold him up.
"If I was doing the market, if Transponder wasn't favourite, he'd be within half a point of whoever was."
Alpha Zulu (box 3), winner of 15 of his 21 starts and unbeaten in two appearances at Sandown, winning heat (29.15sec) and final (29.35sec) of the Cranbourne Cup, is $2.70 favourite to emulate his sire Orson Allen, the 2018 Shootout winner.
"I love Alpha Zulu in box three," Thompson said.
"Obviously, Hector Fawley (box 5) isn't going to worry him.
"If he's going to win the race, he's going to go straight to the front.
"If he pings he just leads. He ran 5 ‘dead' from ‘the pink' at his first start at Sandown (G2 Cranbourne Cup heat) and he'd never been there before.
"If he gets the start right from box three, he can break five seconds and nothing else in this race can run that.
"He missed it in the Topgun and went 5.15sec. In his previous two wins there he went 4.95sec and 5.05sec. I wouldn't expect him to miss it two weeks in a row. His form tells you he doesn't do that.
"He ran 29.15sec at Sandown without a trial, so if he runs that again and gets beaten, then he's not good enough.
"People have got to realise he's still very young, this dog. He only turned two in September – he's 26 months old – so I'd like to think he's still got a bit of petrol in the tank!"
With four Shootout trophies on the Thompson mantelpiece, the Pearcedale powerhouse understands better than anyone the unique nature of the half-field feature and what's required to win it.
Thompson says it's no surprise at all that nine of the last 11 Shootout winners have led at the winning post the first time, with his freakish talent Hooked On Scotch and last year's winner Wow She's Fast the exceptions.
"I think it's the greatest misconception of all time that it (Shootout) suits strong dogs," he said.
"You want to be on the leader.
"If Alpha Zulu or Transponder are running 29.10sec or 29.15sec in front, for something to sit on them and get past them, it'll take a sub-29sec run."
Thompson also has the second reserve for the Shootout in Flying Zulu, a litter brother to Alpha Zulu that's won six of his seven starts, most recently posting a scintillating 29.02sec at Sandown.