By Gerard Guthrie
Jason Thompson is bullish about the prospects of reigning Healesville Cup champion Zambora Lou and comeback sprinter Mr. America in Sunday afternoon’s inaugural The Arrow (350m) match race series at Healevsille.
Consisting of four two-sprinter match races, The Arrow is a sweepstakes event, requiring connections to put up a $1000 entry fee, with each heat winner to receive $2500, while the overall fastest performer will earn $20,000.
The Arrow is an intriguing addition to Healesville’s ‘Festival of Racing’ and provides an ideal lead-up to the G2 Healesville Cup heats next Sunday September 5 for several high-profile Cup contenders, including Thompson’s duo.
Zambora Lou, the winner of 24 from 54, including three from five at Healesville, will clash with straight track ‘find’ Utah Ghost, trained by Tim Britton, which has won three from three at Healesville, highlighted by the Victorian Straight Track Championship on August 1.
In contrast to his Cup-winning kennelmate, Mr. America, a finalist in the G2 Horsham Cup earlier in the year, hasn’t raced at Healesville previously and hasn’t raced anywhere at all since March 11.
The winner of eight from 15, Mr. America, a son of US sire SE Tali Sundance and Motel Girl, has been handed no favours in his return to the track, being drawn against dual country cups hero Ferdinand Boy.
“Zambora Lou and Mr. America are in hard heats but they’ve both drawn box one, which is where they want to be,” Thompson said.
“Zambora Lou obviously won the Healesville Cup last year and he’s going as good as he was then. He’d be my best chance on Sunday.
“Utah Ghost (18.93sec PB) has gone a fraction quicker at Healesville than Zambora Lou (18.97PB) but Zambora Lou can run that and the important thing for him is that he’s drawn the inside.”
Ferdinand Boy, trained by David Geall, has won the G2 Ballarat Cup and G2 Shepparton Cup this year and has had his last four starts at Healesville for three wins and a third to Utah Ghost in the Straight Track Championship.
But Thompson says Mr. America wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t ready to go.
“He tore an Achilles and hasn’t raced for just under six months,” Thompson said.
“He’s a great dog and while he’s coming off a very serious injury I know how good he’s going.
“He’s had a limited preparation but he wouldn’t be there if I didn’t think he’d be competitive. We wouldn’t have paid $1000 to put him in when he could’ve trialed after the last for free.
“He’s been to Healesville plenty of times so he well knows where he’s going.
“Win, lose or draw, it’s an ideal way to bring him back, up the straight in a two dog race where he’s not going to get knocked around, and it’s a good build-up to next week (Healesville Cup heats).”
Thompson, who enjoyed match race success at The Meadows on Wednesday when middle distance sensation Collinda Patty won the G3 Speed Star (600m), was effusive in his praise of The Arrow concept.
“I think any new concept that generates interest for greyhound racing and gets away from the ‘same old, same old’ is great and good on Healesville for putting the race on.”