Collinda unleashes in Traralgon Cup

Country cups champ Unleash Collinda ‘let loose’ in the $83,000 Group 2 Sportsbet Traralgon Cup final (450m) on Friday night.

Unleash Collinda with the Tyler clan and Luke Thompson
Unleash Collinda with the Tyler clan and Luke Thompson Picture: GRV

It was another country cup 'domino' to fall for Pearcedale training maestro, Jason Thompson.

In fact, Thompson has won the first two country cups for 2024. He won the G2 Warragul Cup with Tim Zoo.

It was also his second Traralgon Cup in three years, having saluted with Typhoon Sammy in 2022.

In a display of unbridled speed, after being fairly away from box eight, Unleash Collinda ($2.80F) was tenacious in defeating gallant Tasmanian Ducati Roy ($9.90) by 1.1L, with Got Attitude ($4.60) – also trained by Thompson – a further 1L away in 24.71sec. (Got Attitude and Ducati Roy finished second and third respectively in last month's G1 Hobart Thousand.)

Ironically, Thompson also had the third-placed Alpha Zulu in the Warragul Cup – along with Transponder (7th) and Got Attitude (8th).

Unleash Collinda (Apr '20 Beast Unleashed x Audacious Bell) – bred and owned by Steph Tyler at Boisdale – registered his 42nd win, with 14 seconds and five thirds, from 71 starts. The $55,000 first prize lifted his earnings to $335,526.

"I can't believe he's finally won a country cup, although I did have a good feeling all week."

"Everything in life felt like it was going to plan this week and I thought this might be his chance. Especially as he drew the eight, which I thought would suit him."

During the race, however, Steph wasn't so confident.

"When the six (Pass The Buck) jumped like he did I thought the race was over. Then one of our sons was having a tantrum so I turned my attention to him, and when I looked up again I saw Chopper (Unleash Collinda) was in front.

"I started screaming, don't worry about that," she laughed.

"I honestly thought he would have to lead to win tonight but he did the opposite. He really did it the hard way.

"He'll be four in April but he hasn't lost any of his ability and he'll just keep racing in country cups I'd say.

"He's racing so consistently and has managed to stay sound. He'll be four years old by the time the (VicBred) Pink Diamond series comes around (in June) so that is probably where he'll be headed as he'll qualify for the Pink Diamond Veterans race."

Steph confirmed that Unleash Collinda will eventually have a future at stud.

"He does have one litter on the ground already, to Collinda Patty, which are four weeks old, and straws are currently available for females who are on-season."

It was also Unleash Collinda's third win from five starts on the track and distance, and his seventh win (with one second and two thirds) from 11 starts exiting Box 8. His winning time was only a half-length off his 24.68sec PB set last week when he was the fastest Traralgon Cup qualifier.

Unleash Collinda also broke a country cup 'jinx', finally getting the job done at his sixth attempt after being the 'bridesmaid' on three occasions. He was runner-up in last year's G2 Shepparton Cup, G2 Ballarat Cup and G2 Healesville Cup.

He is also a triple track record holder – Geelong 400m (21.995sec), Healesville 300m (16.057sec) and Healesville 350m (18.641sec) – and has won 41 races from 70 starts.

Thompson also saluted with Umberto ($1.90F – 21.83sec), in a Mixed 4/5 (395m), on the Traralgon Cup program.

Meanwhile, in other highlights, Nature Strip ($5.10) took out the $7000 to-the-winner Bridges On Argyle Special Event (500m) defeating the Des Douch-trained Here Comes Artie ($12.30) by 0.2L in a slick 27.54sec.

A recent runner-up in the Warragul Cup, Nature Strip notched his 13th win from 40 starts for master Lara trainer Dave Geall. In his past nine starts, Nature Strip has been 'in the money' on eight occasions – four wins, three seconds and one third.

'Locals' Dawn Johnston (Boisdale) and Des Douch (Maffra) scored training doubles – Johnston withAussie Can Fly ($3.70F – 22.36sec) and Smooth Criminal ($3.10 – 24.98sec), and Douch with Here Comes Dezel ($1.50F – 24.78sec) and Here Comes Blue ($2.20 – 25.60sec).