Thompson can't split 'Pat' and 'Zulu' in Phoenix

Champion Pearcedale trainer Jason Thompson will launch a two-pronged challenge for the $1.65m The Phoenix (525m) – Race 10. 9.50pm – at The Meadows on Saturday night.

The Phoenix

Dream Chasers

14 Dec

Champion Pearcedale trainer Jason Thompson will launch a two-pronged challenge for the $1.65m The Phoenix (525m) – Race 10. 9.50pm – at The Meadows on Saturday night.

Thompson is hoping for either an ‘express delivery’ with ex-Kiwi Postman Pat (Box 4) or Alpha Zulu (Box 3) proving an ‘alpha male’ in the $1,000,000 to-the-winner event.

Alpha Zulu, a winner of 15 races from 23 starts, is Sportsbet’s $4.40 race favourite. Postman Pat, which has started 34 times for 23 wins, is a $6.00 chance.

Part-owned by AFL Brisbane Lions legend and three-time premiership winner Jonathan Brown, Alpha Zulu has this year won the G2 Bendigo Cup and G2 Cranbourne Cup and was runner-up in the G3 Warragul St Leger.

Alpha Zulu – which is slot holder Good Blokes Society’s representative in The Phoenix – was also recently third in the G1 Topgun and fourth in the G3 Shootout.

Postman Pat – a selection by slot holder Greyhounds HQ – was runner-up in this year’s G1 Brisbane Cup and fourth in the National Sprint Championship.

Only one length separates the dynamic duo on winning personal bests over 525m at The Meadows – Postman Pat (29.60sec) and Alpha Zulu (29.66sec).

Postman Pat has won two races from five starts at MGRA headquarters, while Alpha Zulu is two from three.

So, it’s no surprise Thompson says, “I can’t really split them” – adding “hopefully both do everything right”.

Alpha Zulu’s high-profile ownership group not only features Brown, but also FOX Sports supremo Steve Crawley and Thompson’s wife, Seona.

Alpha Zulu was purchased as a 16-month-old pup from breeder Nick Koutsourakis.

“We’re very thankful Nick sold him to us,” Thompson said.

“Jonathan (Brown) rang me a couple of years ago looking for a dog. I thought given his profile it would be good for the industry, and I just wanted to get the right one for him.

“Steve (Crawley) is his mate and also has a passion for greyhound racing, as does Jonathan which stems from a long family involvement in the sport.”

Thompson added that Brown was excited on Alpha Zulu’s prospects leading into The Phoenix.

“Anyone that saw his interview on prior to the Topgun could see how passionate he is about the dog.

“I think Alpha Zulu has got a good chance, but he needs to take advantage of it. He’s just been working along; he’s ready for Saturday night.”

Meanwhile, Postman Pat has been embraced by Victorian greyhound racing aficionados in a similar manner to which Australian’s have ‘adopted’ New Zealanders such as Phar Lap, Russell Crowe, Peter Jackson and Keith Urban – along with arguably pavlova and lamingtons.

Incidentally, Thompson was born in Tokoroa – in the Waikato region of the North Island of NZ – before moving to Australia as a 10-year-old.

Owned by Jose Arthur of Christchurch, Postman Pat – while racing in ‘the land of the long white cloud’ – won the G2 Far South Challenge at Southland and was runner-up in the NZ St Leger.

Postman Pat’s sire is Thompson’s former superstar, Hooked On Scotch. And Thompson admits that puts a smile on his dial.

“Any dog that we’ve trained that has gone on to stud, you just get a sense of connection when training their offspring.”

Ironically, it was Darren Puleio – who bred and owns Hooked On Scotch – that acted as a conduit for Postman Pat’s owner in his transfer from ‘across the ditch’.

“We wanted reasonably close to the ‘fence’ with him in The Phoenix and box four was the lowest available when his name was drawn out,” Thompson said.

Postman Pat, who won nine of his first 10 races in Oz, was a brilliant last-start 26.94sec winner over 485m at Horsham and Thompson advised he’d since had a “hit-out” in preparation for his million-dollar mission.

“But I still think whoever wins the race has to do everything right,” he added.


The Sportsbet Dream Chasers Festival is back!

With over $4.1 million in prize money up for grabs, The Meadows and Sandown Park again play host to these blockbuster events, including the $1million Group 1 Sportsbet Melbourne Cup and the most exciting race in greyhound racing, The Phoenix.



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