Caboolture-based trainer Rusty Dillon believes his charge Big Easy Red is a genuine chance to take out Saturday night’s Group 1 UBET National Distance Championship (731m) at Angle Park in Adelaide.
Big Easy Red defeated a field which included Queensland’s darling Cyndie’s Magic over the distance journey at Albion Park almost a fortnight ago to punch his ticket to the main event, running a sizzling 41.73 in the process.
Dillon ventured down to South Australia with the son of Barcia Bale and River Seine late last week, and trialled him between races on Monday night over the 600m journey in preparation for Saturday’s feature, with the dog running 34.88 seconds.
“Very happy with the run, and he pulled up good too” Dillon said.
“He was a little shaky on the plane compared to the other dog I brought over (Shift Seine). ‘Big Red’ was a little scared of the travel, but after a couple of days he settled in well.”
Big Easy Red, the $3.75 second favourite with UBET, has drawn the coveted box one for the $75,000-to-the-winner event, and his trainer believes that the red brindle chaser is a decent chance of finding the early lead.
“With his trial tonight and his speed early, I think he should be able to lead to the first turn. His middle section wasn’t too bad, and his last section is very strong.”
“If he gets a lead on them and gets two or three lengths in front, it’s up to the others to catch him.”
Victorian representative Ring The Bell (box two), New South Wales chaser Cardiology (box six) and local Springvale Bryne (box five) all are capable of showing early speed and pose the biggest threats to the Queensland representative early in the event.
“It all depends on the jump. If Red jumps, the two (Ring The Bell) might get a nice trail in behind him, and then it’s game on.”
Big Easy Red is the first Group 1 finalist for a “proud” Dillon, who has been dabbling in the training caper on and off since he was 17 years old.
“This time in it’s been three years. I had about an eight year break before that” he said.
“I trained in Melbourne before I came to Brisbane, when I was younger.”
Big Easy Red has been a revelation since joining the Dillon kennel, having previously been trained by Glenda Dart and owner Kevin Bryant.
“The dog was a little bit young and immature, got a few bumps in his early days and probably did the wrong thing.”
“The owner asked me to train him after his three month break and he’s never looked back since then.”
Distance events were always on the agenda for Big Easy Red from his early days in the kennel.
“He won his first three races for me over 520m, and he gave me the impression that he was running such a strong 520m, that I put him over 600m and he’s progressed from there.”
“He’s had two really quick runs over the 600m, breaking 35 seconds (both times). I always had the intention of stepping him up and here we are.”
“Hopefully he goes well in the final.”
The long term plan could pay dividends Saturday night for Rusty and connections. The Group 1 UBET National Distance Championship will be run as race six on the blockbuster 12 race Angle Park Saturday night program, jumping at 7:49pm.