Stewart's Sights Set On Straight Track Cup

THE pristine Murray Bridge straight track facility has been a resounding success story for the South Australian greyhound industry since last July.

Adam Dobbin

25 May 2020

THE pristine Murray Bridge straight track facility has been a resounding success story for the South Australian greyhound industry.

With the first meeting conducted last July, straight track racing at Murray Bridge has been an unequivocal winner across every metric imaginable.

Wagering, nominations, welfare … you name it and it’s ticked the box.

So it comes as no surprise that on Wednesday a star-studded field will do battle for the inaugural Murray Bridge Straight Track Cup (350m).

And nestled away in that final field is exciting juvenile Zulu Zulu, the son of Worm Burner a perfect illustration of what the Murray Bridge straight track means to the local greyhound industry.

Trained by Michael Stewart, Zulu Zulu boasts five wins and four seconds from his nine career outings, including a sublime 16.34 track record run at Murray Bridge over the 300 metres on April 15.

“He just hasn’t been able to handle the bends on the circle so far,” Stewart said.

“He’s won a couple on the circle but he’s been nowhere near as effective racing right off on the turns. So Murray Bridge has been perfect for him to race and learn what it’s all about. He’s a very quick dog.”

Last month, the Stewart-trained Zulu Zulu posted new track record figures for the Murray Bridge 300 metre distance with a flying 16.34 run.

It was a time subsequently lowered by the Kirin Corby-trained Suspense last Wednesday, the same day Zulu Zulu qualified for this week’s Straight Track Cup Final (350m) with a determined second to fastest qualifier Lavish Pedro.

“After he broke the record last month I planned to give him a good six weeks off,” Stewart explained.

“I actually didn’t know this race was on so it was a last minute thing to nominate. I gave him a trial the Friday before the heats so he went in off just that. I expect him to take improvement out of that going into this week.”

Zulu Zulu is the youngest and least experienced finalist in Wednesday’s $7,000 to-the-winner decider.

Setting the pace for the final with a flying 18.76 run was former NSW sprinter Lavish Pedro, now in the care of SA owner-trainer Richard Stasiak.

Six competitive heats were run and won with times ranging from 18.76 to 19.04.

Zulu Zulu recorded 18.94 with his second placing to Lavish Pedro.

“He likes to shift right at the start so my hope is that he spears the lids from box two so he can move to the front cleanly,” Stewart said.

“He’s been racing with a slight crack in a fibula and I’m hoping that’s what has been causing him to lose the turns on the circles. I didn’t pick it up but with the help of Tony Rasmussan and Greg Moore I’m on top of it now. It had half healed but not completely. He’s obviously going to feel it more on the circle than the straight.”

Early markets for Wednesday’s final see Lavish Pedro the $1.85 favourite ahead of Sweet On Me at $4.50 with Cawbourne Terry and Fly For Fun each at $8.00.

Zulu Zulu is currently sitting at around the $12 mark.

“He’s jumping out of his skin and come through last week great,” Stewart offered.

“We definitely haven’t seen the best of him yet but he’s got a big job on Wednesday. The race looks made for the red (Lavish Pedro) and he’s the deserved favourite. But it wouldn’t be the first time a favourite has been beaten in a good race either.

“It would be the biggest race I’ve won but whatever happens I’m certain the best is ahead of him. I’m sure 500 won’t be a problem later on either.”