By Peter Quilty
Champion Rowsley-based trainer Anthony Azzopardi is hoping Aston Titan proves a Group 2 SEN Track Healesville Cup (350m) ‘colossus’ on Sunday.
Azzopardi is chasing his second Healesville Cup in three years, having won with Myrniong And All in 2019. In fact, Aston Titan is his seventh finalist in the past five years.
Last year, he had Aston Pilsner (3rd) – Aston Titan’s older half-brother – and Short Pork (4th); 2018 Raw Ability (7th); and 2017 Ando’s Mac (4th) and Lucky Chap (8th).
Aston Titan made a sensational straight track debut last weekend, landing his Cup heat in 19.32sec. It was his 16th victory from 40 starts, and he’s hit a purple patch winning four of his past five.
TAB has installed Aston Titan (Box 8) as a $12 chance in the $50,000 to-the-winner final behind Tiggerlong Tonk (Box 6) at $2.50, Hill Top Jonah (Box 1) $3.00, Ferdinand Boy (Box 5) $4.50 and Aston Geneve (Box 4) $6.00.
Azzopardi realises Aston Titan faces a gargantuan task but doesn’t totally concede it’s a ‘David v Goliath’ battle.
“He’ll need a bit of luck, and the ‘red’ (Hill Top Jonah) will be so hard to beat,” he said. “But they only have to make a mistake and he’ll be right there, as he’s ‘Mr Consistent’.
“There’s also some upside as he had his first look there trialling 19.69sec on the Wednesday prior to winning a Cup heat, which was around a six-length improvement.
“I’m not real confident, as he’s got the wrong side of the track and is a few lengths off the topliners. But he’s so consistent you can’t rule him out and he’s going into the final full of confidence.
“I think it’s Hill Top Jonah’s race and if he begins, he’ll win it. But you must also take your hat off to Aston Geneve, who is undefeated.”
Azzopardi has previously stated Aston Titan’s “no world-beater” and is “a nice city dog who might pinch a good race if he gets lucky”.
But the Jan ’19 Fernando Bale x Fantastic Dotty dog has shown he’s a highly capable sprinter, having reached the G3 Bob Payne Sprint final at Wentworth Park and winning the Autumn Classic at Ballarat.
He was also a finalist in the Shepparton Classic and Warrnambool Summer Sizzle.
Pawnote: The Cup is the climax to Healesville’s 10-week Festival of Racing, with around $800,000 distributed in prizemoney.