Brett Honey’s WA Sprint and Distance Championship Preview

Brett Honey takes a runner-by-runner look at the WA Sprint and Distance Championship finals at Cannington this Wednesday night.

WA Sprint Championship 

Box 1: Quick Smart (Chris Halse)

Quick Smart was stiff in his heat but is drawn to get a beautiful run here in the final. Quick Smart has been jumping between the 520 and 600 metre starting points and his box manners are becoming more reliable each week. He had box 7 in his heat and copped his fair share of checks, but stayed on strongly for third. With boxes 3,4,5 all being mid trackers, if he can beat out Saige Tenniele, he could be on for one of the all-time runs here and looks a lock to fill a minor place. Big threat.

Box 2: Saige Tenniele (Kody Charles)

Ryan Levitske described it perfectly last week, “Kody Charles, take a bow!”. Saige Tenniele had been racing in country grade races at Northam before swimming with the sharks last week and she showed no signs of being bitten. She made stacks of ground after finding the rail to score in 29.90, going straight past the likes of Hinto, Electrified and finally Flying Freda. The inside draw suits and with a good beginning, could get the run described above for Quick Smart. She’ll need to be at her best again but discount her at your peril.

Box 3: West On Boonie (Chris Halse)

West On Boonie is the second of the Halse trio and if there was a three-dog match race between them, he’d be winning by a space. His achillies heel can be his box manners and I do prefer him from an outside draw. Honestly Two and Flying Freda are drawn outside him and those two runners use a bit of the track. That could give Boonie some room to operate and that’s what his backers will be looking for. He’s a good price for potentially the fastest dog in the race but he will need luck.

Box 4: Honestly Two (Adam Smith)

Honestly Two took a liking to WA and quickly, after moving over from Victoria. She won 6 of his first 7 at Cannington and in doing so, ran good time. Her best work cleanly comes when she is on the arm and wasn’t far off getting that in her heat. Boxed in between Boonie and Flying Freda, who neither are brilliant off the mat, she has a chance to get into her work and for mine is the most likely leader in the race. If she leads, she can go 29.7 and that wins here. She’s on top for me but will be tearing up the ticket if she doesn’t find the front.

Box 5: Flying Freda (Chris Halse)

She’s a curious case Flying Freda. Two starts back she dominated over 600 in 34.69, then was run down over 520 by Saige Tenniele. Work that one out for me.

Flying Freda was placed in the listed Westchase final which was taken out by West On Boonie. That was in age-restricted company and comes up against some seasoned competitors here. From the squeeze draw, I question whether she has the brilliance over 520 to sneak away if leading. She went 18.55 to the second mark last week after leading, that wouldn’t be enough in this. She’s yet to run a bad race 17 starts into her career, this is a big test.

Box 6: Solidified (Krystal Shinners)

Solidified runs the time to win but the box throws up a lot of questions. He had the same draw in his heat but was able to find the rail. He was chasing Granite Song and there’s no harder task in WA then trying to get past him. The week before he went 29.66 from box 4 in an impressive display.

With Granite Song and Barbeque Man outside him, plus Boonie, Honestly Two and Freda looking to get up the track, he copped the wrong end of the stick with the box draw. It will be herculean task to win from there.

Box 7: Granite Song (Diane Carmody)

The almighty. There’s not much more you can say about this wonderful chaser for Diane Carmody. There are faster dogs in this race, but no one can match the heart and courage Granite Song shows week in and week out. Two starts ago he had no right to win where he copped all sorts of trouble and was run over the top and score. In his heat last week, he got a nice run through on the inside but had to hold off Solidified which is hard to do. He did just that and he’s the feel-good story of this race.

The box draw unfortunately has done him no favours with Barbeque Man outside him and the likely traffic at that first turn being a huge question mark. It’s going to take every bit of Granite Song, but a win here would bring a smile to everyone in the industry, none more than Diane Carmody.

Box 8: Barbeque Man (Paul Stuart)

Barbeque Man always has his admirers in the market, with his early speed and dazzling turn of foot making him an attractive proposition most weeks. He’s been in and around FFA grade for some time now and has been matching it with some classy dogs. This is his biggest test yet.

Box 8 has done him no favours, particularly given he will need a commanding lead to hold on, as he does tire at the back end of his races. I’m happy to take him on here but I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities down the line for Barbeque Man.

The Verdict: #4 Honestly Two save #1 Quick Smart

Honestly Two is the most likely leader for mine and with the times she can run, that makes her the one to beat. She went 5.42 to the mark two starts ago and a reproduction of that will make me a happy man. Quick Smart is an easy saver. I think he’s the best boxed dog in the race and he can sprint. If he can negate Saige Tennile early, it’s game on.

WA Distance Championship

Box 1: Clifton Cruz (Vince Reid)

Clifton Cruz has been a model of consistency all year for trainer Vince Reid and the draw gives him a chance here. I was keen on him two starts ago where he had box 8 which has historically suited him, however he wanted to get to fence a little too eagerly around the first turn. That cost him the race on that occasion, so I think the inside gives him is best chance. The three-dog field didn’t suit him last start and you can read little into the time has the conditions on the night were horrendous.

The main concerns for Clifton Cruz in this race are the amount of early speed engaged and the added class factor of the likes of King Tommy and Couch Surfer. Those two are capable of breaking 42 and where Clifton Cruz was dominant over this trip a few months ago, he was the only one in those races capable of running time and his early speed made him very hard to beat. He’ll need to do everything right but you can’t completely dismiss him.

Box 2: Blessed Doll (Aaron Brown)

Blessed Doll has been a wonderful campaigner for Aaron Brown, who is a newcomer to the training ranks in WA. Whilst she’s never been one to run time, she’ll be one of the stronger dogs late if she can keep close enough during the run. She’s only missed the frame twice in her last 10 starts but this if probably the hardest race she’s contested in a while.

Helping her here is that she is one of only a couple who won’t be involved in the early speed battle and there could be an opportunity for her to pounce on any first turn trouble that could leave a few of the on-pace runners vulnerable. Like a few in this race, she’ll be playing for luck, but it would be no surprise to see her hit the frame.

Box 3: King Tommy (Chris Halse)

King Tommy has been turning heads in recent times and the newcomer to WA’s staying ranks is drawn to make his presence felt.

Three starts ago he disposed of the talented Flying Freda in style over 600, posting 34.59. Last start he stepped up to 715 where he won in an ultra-impressive 41.84. Few dogs have broken 42 seconds all year at Cannington, and I feel this is only the start for King Tommy. I’m a big believer of the “second-up syndrome” theory, but I don’t think it applies to this dog. Team Halse have handled their younger dogs beautifully when stepping them up in trip recently and the week and a half between runs will help as well.

He can be risky early and with so much speed in the race, that’s where he could potentially come undone and he’ll still need to sit close to the pace if not leading. Most of the pace is drawn up the track and that will help King Tommy. He’s the one to beat for mine.

Box 4: Speed Freak (Enzo Crudeli)

Speed Freak was a close second behind First Picked in the Group 1 Galaxy earlier this year but has struggle to recapture that form in recent months. There was an encouraging run four starts ago when finishing third in a WestChase heat over the sprint trip but has struggled to run time over the staying distance.

The map looks sticky here with King Tommy underneath her and the likes of Cawbourne Roses and Ballistic Ant looking to cross. Happy to risk.

Box 5 (#9) Bad Boy Jagger (Enzo Crudeli – first reserve)

At this stage Bad Boy Jagger will move into the squeeze box as Superman Keeping has been scratched.

Bad Boy Jagger managed to score three back in a race that consisted of the likes of Couch Surfer, albeit in a messy affair. He will get back in the run here and will rely on some trouble up front, as he doesn’t run the time the others can in this field. Those playing exotics will be silly not to throw Bad Boy Jagger in the back end of trifectas and first fours, as the speed map in this race is by no means clear and some dogs could be put out of business on that first turn.

Box 6: Cawbourne Roses (Lewis Clay)

Cawbourne Roses has been a heartbreaker at times, but you’d love to have a share in her. She’s been a model of consistency for Lewis Clay and since stepping up to 715, has one win and is yet to miss a place. She’s one of the dogs in the race who can run the time to win. She went 42.05 last start and broke 12 seconds in the run home.

The map is a shade sticky boxed outside Ballistic Ant and Couch Surfer. That being said, she’s been getting progressively stronger and doesn’t need to lead to show her best. I like her as a place heavy option and the current prices allow you to do that. Can win.

Box 7: Ballistic Ant (Enzo Crudeli)

Ballistic Ant is one of the main pace influences in the race with her last two early splits of 5.57 and 5.58. She’s lead on both those occasions and managed to hold on beating Blessed Doll two back. She was up in class last week and despite runner a similar time, faded into fourth.

I prefer her from an inside draw; therefore the box concerns me given she will need a sizeable lead. This is likely a stretch too far.

Box 8: Couch Surfer (Chris Halse)

(Pictured) He’s the number 1 stayer in the state and has been since he first stepped up to this distance. He was the Group 1 Galaxy favourite and took his show on the road shortly after that. Since returning to WA, he ran a luckless second in the Group 3 Paradise Street (600m) and has resumed his dominance over the 715.

Whilst he has the talent to offset box 8, the draw worries me massively. He’s certainly performed much better from an inside draw historically and there’s more pace in this race that the traditional Saturday night 715m event. He’s the best dog in the race and he can win, but at the short quote I have to take him on.

The Verdict: #3 King Tommy & #6 Cawbourne Roses (place heavy)

The 3 and 6 will be winning results for me. King Tommy can break 42 seconds, has the early pace to sit forward and he’s a young star on the rise. He’s clearly on top. Cawbourne Roses only needs to get around that first turn to place. She’s been ultra consistent and can come from off the arm with her good middle sections. Great race.