Group 1-winning trainer Glenn Dainton experienced the extreme highs and lows of racing in quick succession in last Saturday night’s semi-finals of the lucrative Country Classic (605m) at Dubbo.
In the second of four semis, Dainton’s ‘second stringer’ Jackpot Joan ran second to book a berth in this Saturday’s $125,000 to-the-winner Classic Final, the world’s richest middle distance event.
All eyes were then on Group 1 Rookie Rebel winner Dookie Devil, Jackpot Joan’s litter brother, in the third semi; however the $2.60 favourite sustained a hock injury behind fastest qualifier Bandit Jane.
“It would be amazing to win the final with a dog that went there to make up the numbers.”
“Dookie Devil was the one I went to Dubbo for; Jackpot Joan just went along to keep him company,” Dainton explained.
“It would be amazing to win the final with a dog that went there to make up the numbers. That would be ridiculous!
“It was actually a surprise Jackpot Joan got through, because she was in the hardest semi. Maybe I got too confident after that.”
Dookie Devil and Jackpot Joan ran the quinella in a thrilling finish to the Temora heat of the Classic, before the series moved to Dubbo last weekend.
Jackpot Joan is a $14 chance with Sportsbet.
“It’s a seven and a half hour drive to Dubbo and a few people have told me I should scratch her, but the race is worth $125,000,” Dainton said.
“If she can run a place, I’d be over the moon, and if not, it’ll still be a great experience.
“With last week’s run at Dubbo, she should be quicker out this week and I think she can nearly lead this race.
“She’s definitely not the fastest dog in the race, so can she get to the front and pinch a break if there’s some trouble behind her?
“She always tries her heart out and she’s okay out there (box 8). She gets a lot of outside boxes, so she’s used to it! She’s very smart in a field too.”
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As was the case in last year’s inaugural Country Classic, three Victorians have qualified for the final and they’ve drawn the three outside boxes.
Last year, Delbridge’s multiple G1 winner Jarick Bale ran eighth.
While Dainton is hopeful rather than confident Jackpot Joan can emerge from Dookie Devil’s giant shadow at Dubbo, he provided a positive update on his kennel star’s racing future.
“Michael Bell (veterinarian) told me it’s not a major injury and isn’t career-ending,” he said.
“All going well, I should be able to start working him again in 12 weeks and we’ll take it from there.
“My plan was to step him up to ‘700’, so losing a bit of his early pace mightn’t be a great disadvantage. It might even help him run it out better.
“He’s only had 28 starts and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.”