'Golden Ticket' Awaits Victorian Sprint Winner

DAVID Burnett understands there’s far more on the line in Thursday’s Victorian Sprint Final (515m) than just laying claim to state supremacy.

Adam Dobbin

12 August 2020

DAVID Burnett understands that there’s far more on the line in Thursday’s Victorian Sprint Championship Final (515m) than just laying claim to state supremacy.

Victory also hands his champion sprinter Simon Told Helen a walk up start into the semi-finals of the TAB Million Dollar Chase semi-finals at Wentworth Park on October 9.

And in a coronavirus world full of uncertainty with forever changing travel restrictions, it’s a pathway that could well prove its weight in gold.

“It’s a golden ticket … there’s a lot on the line for sure,” Burnett declared ahead of Thursday night’s blockbuster.

“From a Million Dollar Chase point of view winning on Thursday night will take away a lot of the stress and pressure. It effectively takes it from a five to six week project to a two-week one if we go that way.

“No one knows what the coronavirus restrictions might look like in five or six weeks time so we are keeping all our options open. The picture will be a bit clearer after Thursday.”

Thursday night’s $12,000 to-the-winner final is billed as a return bout between Simon Told Helen and Shima Shine, the pair relegated into second and third behind Mepunga Daniel in last week’s opening sprint heat.

Charging into the first corner neck and neck, neither Simon Told Helen or Shima Shine gave an inch, ultimately putting paid to their winning chances.

And from box eight in Thursday night’s finale, Simon Told Helen will need to be every bit the champion he is to claim victory, the four-time group 1 winner thrown some lofty obstacles, the first of those a tricky box eight draw. 

In the last 18 months drawing the pink at Sandown Park has become something of a graveyard, responsible for just 120 winners from 1432 races at the deplorable strike-rate of 8.38 percent.

And adding to the star sprinter’s box eight woes is a less than ideal preparation following last week’s “slogfest” on a track Burnett deemed “unacceptable”.

“I wasn’t happy with the condition of the track last Thursday at all,” Burnett said.

“On that track the dog effectively had a 600m run … that’s how much they were getting into it – the track was absolutely disgraceful.

“To see dogs like Tiggerlong Tonk and Hard Style Rico winning and running 15 lengths below their best times just isn’t good enough. 

“The run knocked my bloke around and he’s had a really light week because of it. He’s been checked over and his blood is good so he’s right to go but the box is a worry.

“I’m hoping the track is back to where it should be for Thursday and keeping him fresh for the week gets him out and to the front.”

Despite a less than ideal lead up, bookmakers have maintained the six-time Sandown winner as favourite at $2.35 ahead of Shima Shine at $2.90.

The pair were equally brave when knocking themselves out of winning contention in last week’s eagerly awaited heat clash won by giant killer Mepunga Daniel.

“You’ve got to give it to Shima Shine, most dogs would just give up their spot under that kind of pressure,” Burnett said.

“For them to both get belted around like they did and still tough it shows what kind of dogs they are. I’m looking forward to Thursday.”

In terms of Million Dollar Chase aspirations, Burnett says everything is on the table at the current time amid so much uncertainty.

“Things will be a bit clearer after Thursday,” he added.

“There’s a few irons in the fire and a lot to consider. Things could be a lot different in five weeks to what they are now. We’ll just have to wait and see and take things as they come.”