Epic Cruze primed for Addington feature & Premier Preview

Darfield trainer Janine McCook finished ninth on the 2020-21 New Zealand Trainers’ Premiership, and she and her husband Andy McCook couldn’t be happier with their achievements.

“It was just outstanding for us,” says Andy McCook.

“It was the best season we’ve ever had, and the start of this season has been just as good, really. It’s just been three or four weeks of just riding the highs.

“We’re backed by some really good owners these days who aren’t scared to send us some nice dogs and it’s starting to pay dividends.”

One of their flagship greyhounds in recent months has been Epic Cruze, who will contest Thursday night’s $25,000 2021 GRNZ Nationals NZ Middle Distance at Addington. The talented son of Fabregas and Epic Dream went agonisingly close to winning last week’s Group Two Canterbury Futurity, but found himself held up for a run at vital stages and had to settle for second behind La Rochelle.

“It was a race of mixed emotions really,” says McCook. “Three-quarters of the way down the back straight we were thinking we were a winning chance, the next thing we’re screaming at him to hook out!

“It probably cost him a decent race, but he still went super and the winner is a really nice bitch, and you can’t take anything away from her – she got in front of us early on which was the key.

“Epic Cruze has come through the race well, and he’s come forward off that run. He’s a really sound young dog, and we’re yet to have any major issues with him, touchwood. The more racing he gets, the better he gets.”

He has drawn Box 5 on Thursday night, between Group One winner Bigtime Cooper and last-start Group Two winner, Quincy Bale.

“I’d love to see him settle in the first four going into the first corner.

“Obviously, there are speedsters like Leonard Bale and Bigtime Cooper who are going to beat us early, so it’s quite handy to have those two drawn underneath us. He has got a bit of speed once he hits the ground and gets his big gangly legs going!

“If he settles in the first four, they’ll certainly know he’s in the race.”

In the preceding race, the McCooks also have a runner in the 2021 GRNZ Nationals NZ Distance in Troublesome Kev. He’s the winner of eight races from 46 starts, and while his recent form has dropped off somewhat, he has performed well previously in his only three attempts over the 732m trip.

“He’s just a really funny dog. He’s got a big motor, but he doesn’t always know he’s got it; if he’s got dogs around him, he tends to just look after himself a little bit, which is what he’s been doing lately,” explains McCook.

“We’ve given him a solo trial going into tomorrow night, and he went well. I’d expect him to lead tomorrow, and while 732m is the top of his range and he can start to get a little bit tired late, he should give them something to chase for a long way.”

The McCooks have a total of seven runners entered for Thursday night’s race meeting, of which Andy McCook labels Young Mase (Race 5, Box 6) as their best of the night.

“We’ve got some really nice dogs entered tomorrow night, but I’ll go with Young Mase.

“It’s a race full of speed, but the way he’s been racing lately, if he leads, he’ll be very hard to peg back.”


The 2021 GRNZ Nationals NZ Distance over the 732 metres features three Silver Collar finalists in Ripslinger Roxy, Student Loan, and Claws In Leo who finished best out of the three for his second placing behind Thrilling Amelia. Student Loan was disappointing in the final, however he saves his best for Addington and seems a much more reliable option on his home track. His last two wins
over the 645 metres at Addington justify his tag of favouritism.

Student Loan may not have it all his way early though as Troublesome Kev could be a likely leader at longer odds. The Janine Mccook trained dog has a bit of trouble rounding out his races over this distance but the probability of him being in the race for the majority is quite high. Ripslinger Roxy has a lot of speed and should be in the running at some stage. She has had a sprint recently
perhaps in the hope to get in front from the outset.

Claws in Leo for Matt Roberts must be rated a chance if he can lob into a handy position. He has been in solid form since his Silver Collar run and is a threat to Student Loan. Nangar Ridge for Lisa Cole must also rate a chance after his impressive victories over Bronski Beat and Speed Machine at Manawatu. The longer journey is the query but he is another who could find the front
at some stage.

It’s A Blaze will be very tough to beat after a couple of misses from box 7 against similar company in the Nationals Middle Distance over 520 metres. He will line up from box two where he won three back and will be impossible to reel in if he leads from there. Leonard Bale will always rate a chance although he has Big Time Cooper drawn directly outside him in box 4.

Know Keeper will look to capitalise on any trouble up front and will be finishing on better than most from box 1. Ozzie has found some winning form of late but would have to be super to get around this field of stars from box 8. Quincy Bale will be shooting for two features in 7 days as he lines up from box 6 and will have northern visitor Jilliby Litsa for company as she jumps from box 7. Epic Cruze has been one of the most improved dogs in the country and despite jumping from the squeeze box he is capable of running in the money in what is a super field of greyhounds.

Australian import Cash Stack comes from Australia with big wraps and will look to make his first start in New Zealand a winning one in race 5. Lightnin' Slim for Calum Weir will attempt to make it four straight wins and entry to Class 5 with victory in race 6. He will have to contend with the talents of Jagetti Bale, Money Spinner and Chrome who will look to make him earn it.

In a meeting full of stacked racing La Rochelle has some tough opposition to contend with in the 7th race on the card. She lines up from box seven against the might of Lisa Cole’s rising stars Big Time Atomic and Big Time Panda.

The Canterbury OTB maiden final features some promising young dogs headed by the likes of Opawa Superstar, Opawa Chrissy and Money Bags who all ready have two maiden wins a piece.

Thursday’s meeting would have to be one of the most talent rich race cards of the year so far.  Tune into Trackside 1 for all of the action beginning 4.41pm.

2021 GRNZ Nationals NZ Distance: Race 9 @ 7:51pm Thursday

2021 GRNZ Nationals NZ Middle Distance: Race 10 @ 8:16pm Thursday

Posted on 11 August 2021

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