Star Brothers In Perfect Order Ahead Of Vic Peters

VICTORIAN trainer Matthew Clark will be searching for a maiden group 1 victory in Saturday night's Vic Peters Classic At Wentworth Park.

Adam Dobbin

7 July 2020

From spending the night sleeping on a concrete slab to breaking through for a career-defining group 1 victory – that’s the scenario facing Victorian trainer Matt Clark ahead of Saturday night’s Vic Peters Classic Final at Wentworth Park.

Lining up sharp-shooting litter brothers Catch The Thief and Playlist for the $75,000-to-the-winner showpiece, Clark’s lead up to the rich series was thrown into disarray late last week due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic in Victoria.

“I got a call from the NSW stewards last Thursday suggesting that I give some thought to staying in NSW for the week if the dogs qualify,” Clark said.

“It was looking more likely the borders would close so I had to make a snap decision and made the call to come up Friday.

“I’m staying at the Potts Park track and the first night the dogs didn’t settle great at all, so I ended up sleeping beside them on the club stretcher on a concrete slab.

“I’ve had better nights.”

Last Saturday, Catch The Thief and Playlist scraped through to this weekend’s $75,000-to-the-winner Vic Peters Final by finishing third in their respective heats.

On face value, given the lofty standards we’ve come to know, Catch The Thief was considered disappointing as the $1.50 favourite, while Playlist ran out of his skin from box six.

But with last week’s unorthodox preparation behind them, Clark is confident the gun duo will be front and centre on the big stage come Saturday night.

“Not a lot went right for Catch The Thief but he managed to qualify and that’s the main thing,” Clark said.

“And Playlist’s run was enormous … I was rapt with his effort from box six – he only got beat 4-1/2 lengths and still ran 29.70.

“I think the decision to stay in Sydney will be a blessing in disguise for this week.”

While rival Victorian trainers engaged at Wentworth Park this Saturday night are making a mad dash to re-enter NSW before Tuesday night’s border closure, Catch The Thief and Playlist are happily kenneled at Potts Park.

“Had I gone home I’d be in the exact same situation those trainers are in now,” Clark said.

“We’ve got a routine going now and during the day they are so relaxed.

“They’ll have some light work Wednesday and that’ll top them off.

“My old man always tells me that if they’re not fit by this stage then you may as well not be there anyway.

“In the morning I take them out for a 45 minute walk just doing laps of the track. They’re loving it.”

And while the dogs are resting up in the lead up to Saturday night’s finale, the same can’t be said for Clark.

“I’ve been jumping on the mower during the day to help the club out,” Clark said.

“Everyone has been so helpful and accommodating I wanted to give back a bit. I can’t thank them enough.”

In what’s shaping as one of the races of the year, Catch The Thief is $3.50 second favourite with TAB from box five while Playlist is quoted $14 from his box one draw.

And at the value, Clark is rather bullish about the prospects of his second stringer.

“Playlist is the smoky of the race for sure,” Clark said.

“I thought his heat run was enormous; I’ve always said I think he’s the faster of the two and the one box brings him right into the race.

“But if Catch The Thief gets the start right and leads then we’ll see something special I think.”

Favourite for the final is blistering 29.44 heat winner Tommy Shelby, the WA sensation sublime at his Wentworth Park debut for Steve Withers.

Catch The Thief and Tommy Shelby have faced each other on two previous occasions with Catch The Thief landing the prize on both occasions.

“Tommy Shelby is the dog to beat,” Clark said.

“I didn’t have the best of nights Saturday and the first person to come up to me was Steve Withers. It was the first time I’ve met him. He’s a great bloke.”