Pride Of The West! Tommy Primed For Sydney Classic

TOMMY Shelby’s popularity has scaled new heights following the WA star’s dashing heat win of the Vic Peters Classic Saturday night.

Adam Dobbin

8 July 2020

TOMMY Shelby’s popularity has scaled new heights following the WA star’s dashing 29.44 heat victory of the Group 1 Vic Peters Classic (520m) at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.

But as trainer Steve Withers explains, the son of Fernando Bale’s Wentworth Park heroics didn’t come without its fair share of apprehension in the race lead up.

“To be truthful if I could have received a refund on the flight tickets a day or two out from leaving I probably would have taken it and stayed home,” conceded Withers.

“We are a small pond over in WA and I’d be lying if I said coming over to NSW for a group 1 wasn’t mildly intimidating.

“A race like this away from home is a different kettle of fish entirely – and we’re only halfway there. But Saturday night was a great way to start.”

Winner at 13 of his 18 career starts, including victories in the Group 3 Perth Cup Consolation and Listed Sandi’s Me Mum Memorial, Tommy Shelby – whelped March 8, 2018 – scraped into qualifying for the Vic Peters Classic by just eight days.

“We left to come over last Friday week and it was the day before when I heard of some of the Victorian’s coming up that I started to question whether it was a good idea,” Withers said.

“It’s a long way to come and you don’t want to embarrass yourself but touch wood everything has gone to plan so far.

“He trialled 29.63 (at Wentworth Park) which I was very happy with because he didn’t settle in all that well the first few days. But to see him come out and go the way he did on Saturday was well beyond anything I was expecting.”

Running rip-roaring sectionals, Tommy Shelby thundered away for a mammoth victory at his Sydney debut, solidifying favouritism for the rich final.

And in an interesting subplot to the $75,000 to-the-winner decider, Withers’ nearest rival on the clock is the Michael Eberand-trained Ebby Jet Power, the son of Fernando Bale running his rivals ragged in a slick 29.51.

Withers has set up base at Eberand’s for his Sydney campaign, making for an interesting week at the Oakville household.

“Michael’s been great; couldn’t ask anymore,” Withers offered.

“When you travel so far for the first time you’re not too sure what to expect and hopefully the trip becomes the making of the dog. The experience should do him the world of good; he’s settled in great now.”

Tommy Shelby moves from box seven to box two for Saturday night’s group 1 showpiece, a draw Withers says, in theory, is ideal.

“He’s one of the last in and he’s a keen railer so the draw looks perfect,” Withers said.

“But I have enormous respect for the field. It is a genuine group 1 line-up.

“Michael’s dog (Ebby Jet Power) is boxed to get the fly if there’s some trouble and even though Catch The Thief had an unlucky night on Saturday he’s right in the final. Then you have his brother Playlist in the one and a dog like Zipping Zeek, which ran home in 11.40 the other night, there as well.

“To have the favourite for the race is humbling in itself. It really is just a privilege to be in the race.”

To annex Saturday night’s time-honoured Vic Peters Classic, Tommy Shelby will need to overcome mighty Victorian Catch The Thief for the first time.

The pair met on two occasions over in the west during May and June with Matt Clark’s powerhouse sprinter coming up trumps on both occasions, first in the WA Derby and then in the Winter Cup. 

And for anyone wondering how a potential group 1 Sydney victory will be received by his passionate owners back home in the west, you only need to check out this vision from Saturday’s heat victory to get the picture!

This is how we do it Garrison style 🏆#tommyontour #teamtommy #tommyshelby #fastestqualifier #vicpeters #groupone

Posted by Tommy Shelby on Saturday, 4 July 2020