Tommy Tuning Up Nicely For MDC Tilt

IT’S over a month now since Western Australia’s premier sprinter Tommy Shelby secured his place in the TAB Million Dollar Chase semi-finals.

Adam Dobbin

18 September 2020

IT’S over a month now since Western Australia’s premier sprinter Tommy Shelby secured his place in the TAB Million Dollar Chase semi-finals.

But while Tommy Shelby’s ticket to Sydney has been safely tucked away for some time, his trainer Steve Withers has had to play the waiting game to see if he’d be making the trip to the Harbour City with his star conveyance. 

“I got the okay from the WA government earlier this week to travel to Sydney – my ticket was harder to get than his!” said a tongue in cheek Withers.

“I put an application in straight after he won the WA Sprint title and the green light came back a few days ago. What it means is when I return I can do the two weeks’ quarantine at home rather than in a hotel.

“Had I not been able to that it would have just been too difficult.”

Tommy Shelby will step out at Cannington on Saturday night in a heat of the WA Bred Championship (520m) chasing his sixth win on the bounce.

And providing he comes through his heat and secures a place in next week’s $20,000 final, it will be his final hit-out before heading to Sydney for his assault on the world’s richest greyhound race.

“The plan is to fly into Sydney on Monday October 5 – have another walk around Wenty on Tuesday and be good to go for the semis on the Friday night,” Withers said.  

The last time Tommy Shelby stepped out at Wentworth Park was in July’s final of the Group 1 Vic Peters Classic (520m) when finishing a remarkable second to Playlist after botching the start.

In the heats of the series a week earlier the son of Fernando Bale rattled off a flying 29.44 to qualify fastest for the $75,000 finale.

“There’s no margin for error when you are racing the elite dogs like he did in the Vic Peters,” Withers added.

“But he showed with the run what a mighty chaser he is. He makes good decisions and loves a battle. He sometimes looks like he’s got Willie Pike on his back the way he races.

“He’s not one dimensional either and when he goes into the big races it’s good to know you’ve got a dog that can do it the hard way as well.”

While Withers says that Tommy Shelby’s Million Dollar Chase campaign is front of mind, preliminary discussions are taking place about the spring riches in Victoria, led by the Group 1 Melbourne Cup.

“I obviously won’t be able to go to Melbourne so we are deep in talks about sending him to Kel Greenough for those races,” Withers explained.

“I hadn’t dealt with Kel at all until recently but his reputation precedes him and if it all comes together it’s obviously the perfect place for him to go.

“Sandown has just announced that the National Sprint winners get exemption straight into the Melbourne Cup heats which is a plus as well.

“But there’s plenty of water to go under the bridge between now and then.

“Starting with Saturday night.”