Smokey set for St Leger success

Potential superstar Zambora Smokey will put his unblemished Warragul record on the line when he spearheads Jason Thompson’s three-pronged assault on Saturday’s Group 3 St Leger (460m).

The winner of 18 from 26, highlighted by claiming Simon Told Helen’s prized scalp in the Group 2 Warrnambool Cup, Zambora Smokey made it three from three over Warragul’s 460m course when setting the pace in the St Leger heats, clocking 25.54s.

He’s also won both his starts over 400m at the track.

Zambora Smokey, which has drawn box 3, from where he’s also unbeaten in three starts, is $2.30 favourite in TAB’s St Leger market, shading 25.62s heat winner Catch The Thief (box 2) at $2.40.

“I think that’s right. He should be favourite,” said champion mentor Jason Thompson.

“He’s proven to be a very effective half-circle dog and he’s gone pretty well in his three (460m) wins at Warragul. Hopefully he can make it four.”

While Zambora Smokey produced the fastest qualifying time, Thompson was also effusive in his praise of Fire Legend’s 25.68s heat effort, rating the $9 chance as a legitimate knockout chance.

“To be honest I thought Fire Legend was the most impressive heat winner,” Thompson said.

“He had a very bad fall the previous Saturday – not even a week between runs – and was baulked and held up and lost a couple of lengths.

“With a clear run he would’ve run the same time as Zambora Smokey or even a bit quicker.

“If Zambora Smokey and Catch The Thief come out together and they’re cutting at each other for 300m it could set it up for a dog stalking them and that could be Fire Legend.

“But if I had to pick one it would definitely be ‘Smokey’.”

Thompson’s third finalist is $12 chance Taken, which ran second in Zambora Smokey’s heat, while he also trains first reserve Zambora Lion, a litter brother to Zambora Smokey.

“Taken is very honest,” Thompson offered.

“He’s boxed where he wants to be (box seven) and he has good form at Warragul too. But he can’t run the times some of the others can so he’ll be relying on luck.”

The always-powerful Thompson kennel is taking aim at their second St Leger celebration in three years after Jason’s wife Seona was successful in 2018 with Aston Kimetto, which went on to win the Geelong and Ballarat Cups.

“It’s a good concept the way the St Leger runs into the Cranbourne Puppy Classic,” Thompson said.

“Fire Legend and Taken will probably head to Cranbourne while Zambora Smokey will go to Sandown and then we’ll get him ready for the Healesville Cup.

“He’s very versatile but I think his forte will be 500m once he gets enough races under his belt. I think Sandown will be the track where he really excels and I’m looking forward to getting him back there.”

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