Abela has somewhat surprisingly nominated lightly raced Alpine Butterfly ahead of established Group performer Aston Ulysses as his best chance in Thursday night’s G1 Adelaide Cup heats at Angle Park.
Then on Friday at Geelong, Abela is confident another emerging talent in Panadero Warrior will pass the biggest test of his 16-start career in the $14,960 Hugh Emmerson Memorial Final (460m).
Aston Ulysses (Heat 2, Box 2) will generate great interest when he resumes in the Adelaide Cup heats, his first appearance since running third to newly crowned Million Dollar Chase champion McInerney at Sandown Park on July 21.
“My plan was always to produce Aston Ulysses first-up in Adelaide.”
In stark contrast, Abela’s second Cup contender Alpine Butterfly (Heat 3, Box 5), has only started 18 times for seven wins, and is the $6.50 second elect in a market dominated by another Vic in Paddy Wants Pats at $1.40.
“Alpine Butterfly is flying. I think she’s my best chance,” Abela said.
“She’s a bit tardy early but she’s definitely quick enough and the 530m, with that extra ten metres, will suit her.
“Aston Ulysses hurt a triangle, and I decided to give the old boy a bit of extra time off.
“My plan was always to produce him first-up in Adelaide. The last time he came back fresh he ran 29.26sec at Sandown.
“He’s going nice, but I would probably like to have had one more week. Hopefully, he can sneak into the final and he’ll be spot on next week.
“I went over to Adelaide last Tuesday to trial them both and Aston Ulysses trialled the best. I wasn’t going to trial but changed my mind after talking to Anthony (Azzopardi) about the quiet lure at Angle Park.”
WATCH: PANADERO WARRIOR (B7) stormed into Geelong’s Hugh Emmerson Memorial with an impressive 25.87sec heat victory and is perfectly drawn in Box 8 for Friday night’s final.
Panadero Warrior qualified for Friday night’s $10,000 to-the-winner Hugh Emmerson Memorial with a gutsy 25.87sec heat victory, his seventh win from 15 starts and sixth from ten appearances since resuming from a three-month break in July.
“He’s a very promising dog,” said Abela.
“He had a few issues early on – he had a problem with a fibula that I couldn’t get right – and he wasn’t living up to what I thought he’d be.
“I was actually shocked he only won one of his first five starts.
“So, I decided to give him six weeks off. He went back to the Bakers’ farm where he was reared and had a complete rest. Since coming back he’s been showing his full potential.
“When they go up in grade, they need to take another step, and I reckon he took another step in his heat. He could have pulled out, but he drove through, and he can definitely go quicker than that.”
After winning his heat from Box 7, Abela says the January ’20 son of Barcia Bale and Time No Money is ideally drawn in Box 8 in Friday’s final – Race 8 at 9.27pm – with fastest heat winner Kelsey Bale (25.61sec), trained by Daniel Gibbons, to exit Box 1.
“I think he’s a big chance,” said Abela.
“I couldn’t ask for a better draw. There’ll be no excuses.
“But the one (Kelsey Bale) is well-boxed too, and Mepunga Mustang has never been beaten from ‘the blue’.”