Poke The Bear will step up in distance to 595m tomorrow night at Sandown Park.
He has built a reputation as one of the sport’s fastest and most exciting sprinters, however in recent starts he has found nothing but tough luck in running. His trainer Seona Thompson hopes the step up to the mid-distance will make for an easier transit for ‘Fred’.
“He’s been having no luck over the ‘500’ and not beginning as well as he can. I think this is the right time to step him up. Hopefully he can find the front a little easier and we all know what he can do once he’s there,” explained Thompson.
Not only is Poke The Bear regarded for his freakish talent but also his ability to back up week-to-week in some of the sport’s hottest races.
“After Saturday (Australian Cup Consolation at The Meadows) we thought about giving him a few weeks off and freshen him up, but we always let the dogs do the talking. He pulled up really well, he’s fit, healthy and backs up week in week out. He’ll let us know when he needs that break.”
Poke The Bear has a strong following among racing fans, and there is growing fan base behind kennelmate Black Opium. ‘Sarah’ heads tomorrow night’s Free-For-All and will jump from the challenging box 8.
“I would have rathered close to the fence, but she’s probably got what it takes to find the front from that draw. I’m excited to get her back to Sandown, it’s a track she goes really well at.”
Poke The Bear and Black Opium will be accompanied to Sandown Park with fellow kennel mate Aston Vanquish.
He has had just five career starts but already looks to be a prominent sprinter of the the future.
“He’s a really big dog and he’s still finding his feet when it comes to racing. It’s probably going to take him 10 or 12 starts to put everything together, but he’s got a lot of ability and I’m excited to see the next few months bring for him.”
All things being equal, Aston Vanquish is likely to head towards next month’s $432,000 Launching Pad series.
“It’s on the radar, if things pan out for him he will be heading that way.”
Next Saturday’s heats of the Perth Cup at Cannington loom as a target for the Thompson team however a decision as to who competes is yet to be made.
“We’ll decide after tomorrow night.”
“At this stage we do plan on going, but we haven’t worked out which dogs will be heading there. We’ll get through tomorrow night and weigh it all up after that.”
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