Local hero chases Traralgon Cup glory

Maffra trainer Des Douch is hoping to play ‘local hero’ in the Group 2 Sportsbet Traralgon Cup series (450m).

HERE COMES MILLI winning a Melbourne Cup Prelude
HERE COMES MILLI winning a Melbourne Cup Prelude

Douch will launch a five-pronged challenge in Friday night's heats with Here Comes Milli (Heat 1 – Race 3, Box 8), Early Boy (Heat 2 – Race 4, Box 3), Spot Fox (Heat 3 – Race 5, Box 7), Skinny Olive(Heat 4 – Race 6, Box 1) and Here Comes Artie (Heat 6 – Race 8, Box 4).

In last year's Traralgon Cup, won by Mobile Legend, Douch finished third with River Rough.


Meanwhile, champion Pearcedale trainer Jason Thompson has two representatives – Unleash Collinda (Heat 5 – Race 7, Box 1) and Got Attitude (Heat 6 – Race 8, Box 1) – in his quest to win his second Traralgon Cup in three years. Thompson won with Typhoon Sammy in 2022. His wife, Seona, saluted with Poke The Bear in 2018.

And master Rowsley trainer Anthony Azzopardi returns with Salad Dodger (Heat 4 – Race 6, Box 8) who finished sixth in last year's final. Azzopardi also has On The Green (Heat 1 – Race 3, Box 2) and nominal favourite Pass The Buck (Heat 3 – Race 5, Box 8) in this year's series.

Below is a summary of the heats:

Heat 1 (Race 3 – 7.50pm)
Looms as a three-way battle between Here Comes Milli (10 from 21), Mr. Beets (27 from 42) and On The Green (7 from 19).
Here Comes Milli finished fifth in last month's G2 Laurels; Mr. Beets is a prolific winner who won last year's Listed Western Districts Derby and Warrnambool Derby; On The Green is a powerful type who boasts wins over the sprint and middle distance at Sandown Park.

Heat 2 (Race 4 – 8.12pm)
Looks a race in two with little separating Starline Express (14 from 33) and Mac's Damage (15 from 42).
Starline Express is trained by Dave Geall who had Hill Top Jonah (3rd) and Ferdinand Boy (4th) in the 2022 Traralgon Cup. He finished runner-up in last year's G1 National Derby and was fourth in last month's G1 Hobart Thousand; Mac's Damage, who is five from six this track/distance, finished third in last month's G1 Melbourne Cup. Both speedsters have a 25.00sec PB here.

Heat 3 (Race 5 – 8.27pm)
Pass The Buck (9 from 13) looks the testing material. Last week, he finished fifth in last week's G2 Warragul Cup and last year was sixth in the G3 Great Chase; Spot Fox (8 from 17) appears the only bona fide danger considering he's two from three this track/distance with a 24.75sec PB.

Heat 4 (Race 6 – 8.53pm)
Perhaps the most even of the six heats – a pick-it-with-a-pin affair. However, there's no splitting Journey Beyond (14 from 22) and Salad Dodger (27 from 59).
Journey Beyond is a speed machine who was a reserve for last year's G2 Cranbourne Cup and last week's G2 Warragul Cup; Salad Dodger is a six-time Group race finalist, including runner-up in last year's G2 Bendigo Cup, and a former Traralgon 450m track record holder. He's two from three this track/distance with a 24.48sec PB; Skinny Olive (21 from 44) can't be ignored as she finished fourth in last week's G2 Warragul Cup and has hit a rich vein of form.

Heat 5 (Race 7 – 9.12pm)
Another 'quandary' with Schillaci, Nature Strip and Unleash Collinda all in the mix.
Schillaci (11 from 20) is the reigning $1m Phoenix champ. He also won the 2023 G3 SA Derby and was a finalist in last year's G1 Topgun and G1 Adelaide Cup; Nature Strip (12 from 38) was a gallant runner-up in last week's G2 Warragul Cup and finished fifth in last year's G3 Warragul St Leger; Unleash Collinda (40 from 69) is an eight-time Group race finalist including victory in last year's G3 National Straight Track Championship. He holds three track records – Geelong (400m) and Healesville (300m & 350m).

Heat 6 (Race 8 – 9.30pm)
Got Attitude (15 from 35) should take a power of beating. He's a genuine 'black type' sprinter finishing runner-up in last year's G1 Hobart Thousand, Listed Pink Diamond Rookie Sprinter and Listed Prospector, along with eighth in last week's G2 Warragul Cup. But beware Mile A Minute, who is undefeated in three starts – all over 400m at Warragul – with his past two wining margins being by 8.6L and 9.8L. He's in the astute hands of 'Team Greenough' who landed the 2013 Traralgon Cup with Paw Licking.


Pawnote: Since 2010, there have been 10 Traralgon Cups conducted (the event was not held in 2014 and from 2019 to 2021 inclusive) with only three 'locals' successful – 2017 Jesaulenko (Terri-Maree Morris, Traralgon); 2016 Pantera Nera (Gavin Burke – Alberton West); 2011 El Grand Senor (Carolyn Jones – Rosedale).