By Mick Floyd
Dr Tucker cemented his place in the TAB Melbourne Cup heats with a dazzling victory in a Cup Prelude at Sandown Park last Thursday night.His 29.28 winning time was the fastest time of the night, but his overall time tells only part of the story. Beginning moderately from box 3, Dr Tucker powered to the lead past the post the first time and quickly put a gap on his rivals. He stopped the clock at a stunning 18.55 at the back marker before finding the finishing line three lengths clear of Providence Bale.
His second split time was just three lengths off Fernando Bale’s second section record, and his middle section – the time recorded between the first and second splits – of 13.49 was just 0.09 seconds off Simon Told Helen’s unofficial mark set almost 12 months ago.
Ominously, his trainer William McMahon believes Dr Tucker still has improvement in him.
“He’ll go better than that. He hasn’t been here for six months and only been here once out of the boxes back when he was 18 months old in his first ever 500m run,” he said.
“He’s a young dog that is just going to keep improving. The more he wins the more confident he gets and the better he’ll go. He’s a real race dog, a beautiful animal.”
Two weeks on from his second birthday, Dr Tucker has already won nine of his 12 career starts and amassed over $90,000 in prize money – and the punters have taken notice. After opening a $71 chance in the TAB Melbourne Cup pre-nomination market, Dr Tucker firmed to $34 following his victory in the group 3 Great Chase last week, was backed into $26 prior to his Prelude win, and is now rated a $17 chance alongside greyhounds including Topgun finalists Tiggerlong Tonk and Christo Bale.
Dr Tucker will face the stiffest test of his career on Monday night when he meets eight-time group race winner Simon Told Helen in the group 3 Silver Bullet at The Meadows. Twelve months ago, Simon Told Helen won the Great Chase (winning in a time 0.03 seconds faster than Dr Tucker) before running second in the Silver Bullet. While Simon Told Helen’s form line is impeccable – he won the group 2 Geelong Cup at his last outing – Dr Tucker’s Prelude victory saw his price in the Silver Bullet tumble from $6 to $4.80.
Just 0.012 seconds separated the other three Prelude winners on the night. Shima Shine qualified for a second tilt at the world’s greatest greyhound race, overcoming a tardy start to work around the field and win in 29.38. Music Event, who ran a luckless third in the first Prelude two weeks earlier, defeated series favourite Catch The Thief in 29.39, while Junk Food Junkie scored an impressive all of the way win also in 29.39. By winning a Prelude, a greyhound automatically qualifies for the TAB Melbourne Cup heats.
The final TAB Melbourne Cup Prelude series will be run on Thursday 12 November along with the $25,000 winner-takes-all Shootout. The TAB Melbourne Cup heats will be run on Friday 20 November with the $630,000 final to be run on Friday 27 November.