Belford’s Townsville Cup dilemma
By MIKE HILL
$37,500 Group 3 Weseal Townsville Cup 498m
Heats August 21. Final August 28
$25,000 to the winner
LEADING Townsville trainer Brad Belford is in two minds about running his talented sprinter Murphy Rumble in this month’s $37,500 Group 3 Weseal Townsville Cup (498m).
“I brought him back for the Cup, but at the moment he’s not going well enough,” Belford said.
“He’s missing the kick and his times are not what I would like. He needs to be going better.”
This is despite the fact that Murphy Rumble has been in winning form since returning to Townsville after a five-month campaign in the Sydney region.
The black sprinter (Collision-Velvet Rumble), under the guidance of top NSW trainer Jason Mackay, picked up a victory over 400m at Bulli and eight placings – three over 520m at Wentworth Park – from 12 southern runs.
He returned to North Queensland in late June and won his first three starts over the Townsville 380m.
“I’m still in two minds about a Cup start,” said Belford. “He’s come back a different dog and he’s not going as well as he was this time last year.
“However, I’m still chasing the Cup. If he can recapture his early zip in coming weeks that will give me some confidence.
“We still have four weeks to go and I will give him a run over 498m in the next couple of weeks.”
If Belford decides not to go down the Cup path, he will aim his talented chaser at the $7875 North Queensland Sprint (380m).
Murphy Rumble had to be scratched from last year’s feature sprint final after injuring a near hind toe in winning his heat.
With or without Murphy Rumble, Belford could still be a major player in this year’s Cup (heats August 21, final August 28).
Early indications are that Sydney trainer Jason Magri is sending his speedy bitch Gina Keeping north to the Gumlow-based conditioner for a tilt at the group feature.
“She’s a jet early,” said Belford. “She’s won 10 of 14 starts.
“The plan is for Jason to send the bitch up, however, I haven’t heard anything lately. I’m just waiting.”
Belford also has another important decision to make after producing an exceptionally talented youngster for a crushing first-up maiden (380m) victory last month.
The well-bred Major Gibson (Dyna Double One-Diligent Miss), solidly supported at $1.75, stunned his rivals, winning by almost 12 lengths in a super slick 21.77s – only .24s outside Rocket’s Magic’s track record of 21.53s.
“He’s an exceptional young dog,” the trainer said. “He’s flying at the moment and if he can reproduce that run at his next start, I’ll look at moving him up to the 498m.
“And who knows after that? He’s only 20 months old and had one start, but he’s pretty good.”
Belford, the last Townsville trainer to win the Cup with Syanna in 2008, believes the Michael Hickmott-prepared Akashi Kid and Harold Hovi’s Gascoigne are the best chances for a home-town victory in the big feature.
Club officials are anticipating a strong contingent of southern trainers for the two-week Cup carnival.
President Gary Heath said some of the big-name Brisbane trainers expected to make the trip included two-time Cup winner Tony Brett, Tom Tzouvelis, Peter O’Reilly, Mark Saal, Justin Bowe and Brett Hazelgrove, who produced last year’s winner Quara’s Flick.
The Zammits, Mick and Selena, whose kennel boasts the likes of Oh Mickey, Stinger Noir and Opal Prince, could also be represented.
“I haven’t looked too far ahead, but it’s a possibility,” said Mick Zammit.
Heath said Greenbank-based John Catton was bringing his smart sprinter Jasper The Jet and owner Terry Hines had indicated that Albion Park 395m record holder Canya Cruise (22.25s) was heading north.
O’Reilly will be seeking his second country cup with Shakey Diesel after the smart sprinter won the Rockhampton Cup in June, while Bowe has the highly talented Hirstglen in winning form.
Heath said everything was pointing to a highly successful carnival.
“I’m expecting at least four heats for the Cup although I’d love more,” he said.
“We’ve boosted prizemoney for our support races in the hope that trainers will bring more than just their Cup runners.
“As well as the Cup, we have the $7875 Cup Consolation, the $7875 North Queensland Sprint over 380 metres, the $3675 Maiden 1000, also over the short course, and the All Colour event sponsored by the Taylor family.
“The all-colour race, staged for the first time last year, is for all non-black dogs.
“It’s a great spectacle and is open to the best eight dogs nominated.”