Maitland Cup

Reverse Psychology Gives Zulu A Perfect Draw

By Michael Cowley
Sometimes you have got to do what you’ve got to do, and trainer Mick Hardman knew this was the time for some reverse psychology.

Hardman’s smart sprinter Zulu Warlord had qualified for next Thursday’s Group 2 Maitland Gold Cup final, and it was time for the box draw.

“The owner asked me before he did the box draw, what box do I want,” Hardman explained. “I said box one, and straight away he said: “No you don’t.”

“I said well if I tell you to draw the eight, you won’t draw it. Sure enough I said one and he drew box eight. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of reverse psychology from time to time.

“I’m rapt with box eight,” he said of his dog who is perfectly placed in box eight as he tends to get up the track after jumping. 

Five heats of the $40,000 to the winner event were held on Thursday night, with fastest qualifiers the Michelle Lill brothers, More Sauce and Casual Glance who clocked 24.76s and 24.81s respectively, with both dogs spearing to the lead, running fast first sectionals and scoring impressive wins. 

More Sauce has drawn box one while Casual Glance will jump from box seven in the final.

Zulu Warlord won his heat in 25.03s but there were excuses why the time wasn’t near the two leading contenders.

“I was happy with the performance but to be honest I was disappointed with the clock,” Hardman said. “He hadn’t been to the track for 9 months, and he got dragged down on the turn, so I think he can run what the other dogs ran, he just needs to improve on the clock a bit and he’ll be competitive. 

“Michelle’s dogs were really impressive, they went super. It’s a nice litter isn’t it? I think in the final he (Zulu Warlord) has got to come out in front of them and has to do everything right next week.

“I don’t think he has to lead, but he’s got to be going past the 400m (boxes) up near the lead.” 

Although a veteran of just 22 starts, Zulu Warlord has become one of the consistent top grade sprinters in recent months. 

He won a heat and then was third in the final of the Group 1 Paws Of Thunder at Wentworth Park in January, then won the heat and final of the Bathurst Gold Cup in February, followed by winning his heat of the Golden Easter Egg, finishing third in the semi-final and narrowly missing the final behind Fire On Ice and eventual Egg winner Tommy Shelby, then finishing third in the Egg consolation, the Ambrosoli.

“I thought through the Paws Of Thunder, he hadn’t had many starts before then and definitely that series turned him into a serious race dog,” Hardman said. “He travels well now to the track … he just ticks all the boxes now as a nice race dog.”

Other heats winners were Finefeuiaki (25.07s) and Aston Zodiac (25.33), while the final is made up of the three fastest seconds, Amarillo Highway (24.88s) who was second to Casual Glance, Ebby Jet Power (24.99s) second to More Sauce, and Zipping Kyrgios (25.07s) who was second to Finefeuiaki.
The series sadly lost the explosive Easter Egg runner-up Wow on the morning of the race with trainer Danielle Matic forced to scratch the dog due to a small injury to his right front sesamoid tendon, suddenly opening up the series to many dogs. 

“I think generally people were disappointed that Wow had to be scratched,” Hardman said. “I am. I think you want to beat the good dogs and race the good dogs, so while it is one less you have to beat, it is disappointing.”

Box draw for the Cup Final is” 1 More Sauce 2 Ebby Jet Power 3 Finefeuiaki 4 Amarillo Highway 5 Aston Zodiac 6 Zipping Kyrgios 7 Casual Glance 8 Zulu Warlord. Reserves 9 Happy Dash 10 Ebby Infrared.