Cranbourne Classic To Decide MDC Fate

MATT Clark has earmarked Catch The Thief’s performances in the Cranbourne Classic as a guide to whether a Million Dollar Chase tilt is on the cards.

Adam Dobbin

11 August 2020

TRAINER Matt Clark has earmarked Catch The Thief’s performances in the Group 3 Cranbourne Classic (520m) as a guide to whether the son of Aussie Infrared embarks on a Sydney campaign for the TAB Million Dollar Chase.

“But as of right now I’d say it’s probably 75 percent he’ll stay at home and miss the race,” Clark said.

Refusing to get starry-eyed about a potential $1 million windfall, Clark has declared that he and the owners will make a final decision on future plans for the last start Warragul St. Leger winner following the Cranbourne Classic which gets underway this Friday. 

“A lot of it will rest on how he goes at Cranbourne,” Clark offered.

“If he comes out and blitzes it then he might force our hand. And if that is the case I’ve had talks with Jason Mackay about him going there to him.

“But I’d say more realistically he’ll miss the Million Dollar Chase and we’ll look at the Adelaide Cup as a lead up to the Melbourne Cup.

“That’s his main aim – has been all along.”

So far just 14 nominations have been received for Friday night’s Cranbourne Classic heats with nominations for the meeting extended until Wednesday.

“Nominations are very light on which is surprising with $25,000 up for grabs,” Clark said.

“Before the St. Leger I trialled Catch The Thief at Cranbourne and he went 5.39 and 21.17 up the back and 30.20 overall. And the track was a bog … the track guys there couldn’t believe what he ran on that track. 21.17 up the back is just airborne.”

A sublime winner of Friday night’s Group 3 Warragul St. Leger, Catch The Thief is currently $14 in pre-post betting for the Million Dollar Chase and $4 second favourite in markets for the $50,000 to-the-winner Adelaide Cup.

The final of the Adelaide Cup will be staged on Friday October 9, the same night as the semi-finals of the Million Dollar Chase at Wentworth Park.

“(Co-owner) Louie Cardillo has been great with it all and we’ve decided we’ll leave any final decision until after Cranbourne,” Clark said.

“The dog’s had a big year. He was away for a while there when in Western Australia for the Derby and with the coronavirus restrictions, to be in Sydney for five or six weeks is a big ask.

“Nothing is concrete yet but I think it might just be in the too hard basket for this year.  With Adelaide it’s a lot simpler logistically and an Adelaide Cup on his record from a stud perspective later on will read great as well.”

Extending his record to 15 wins from 25 starts with Friday night’s mesmerising Warragul St. Leger win, Clark is confident that his high flying sprinter will make a strong fist of things at Cranbourne.

“I know it sounds funny but I still think the dog is getting better – his trial at Cranbourne and runs at Warragul blew me away,” Clark said.

“The number one goal is the Melbourne Cup and I’ve been around long enough to know that if you try and win everything you can end up with nothing.

“The next two weeks will tell us what direction we are heading.”