ANTHONY Azzopardi has every confidence that his supreme youngster Pass The Buck has the ability to win the G1 Melbourne Cup.
But whether the gifted son of Bernardo takes his place in the heats of the $1 million series on November 25 will be known in the next fortnight as Azzopardi, who won the race with the great Whiskey Riot in 2019, ramps up his highly anticipated return.
"I'm racing the clock to have him right for the Melbourne Cup and if he's not ready then he's not ready," Azzopardi said.
"He's only young with the world at his feet and it all ahead of him. In another week or so I'll step things up with him and see if we're a chance to get to the cup preludes.
"But if not, there's always next year for a Melbourne Cup."
Victorious at seven of his nine starts to launch his career in breathtaking fashion, Pass The Buck, a son of Bernardo and On The Runway, was last seen when going amiss in the Group 3 Great Chase Final (525m) at The Meadows on October 18.
In the heats of the rich series, Pass The Buck set the time-standard for the finale with an explosive 29.67 performance, and before things went awry in the final, carved out a flying 4.95s first split at The Meadows.
"Before he started racing I said he's as good a young dog as I've had and I stand by that," Azzopardi, who has put the polish on any number of group 1 winning superstars, stated.
"This dog is a machine and when he began and ran what he did early in the Great Chase I thought to myself we are going to see something pretty special.
"Unfortunately he tore a bit of the tendon in his shoulder and hurt his wrist which has put us behind the eight ball for the Melbourne Cup.
"I've been doing what I can to keep him as up to the mark so we'll just see how things play out over the next week or two. "When he does return it'll be when he's 110 per cent and only then."
Currently a $10 chance in all-in betting for the Melbourne Cup, Pass The Buck is rated at $8 in markets for The Phoenix in December. And Azzopardi is quick to push his exciting sprinter's claims for a berth in the $1 million-to-the-winner event.
"In the first year (of The Phoenix) Wow She's Fast went in as the young up and comer with only a handful of starts and look what she did," Azzopardi said.
"With what my bloke is capable of I'd have no hesitation in pushing his name forward to slot holders. He's got that devastating speed early, is strong, and has proven he flies at The Meadows."
"But to be fair he flies everywhere. The good ones do."
When it comes to group 1 pedigree, Pass The Buck lacks nothing. A half-brother to former top flight sprinters Substantial and Rebellious, Pass The Buck's dam On The Runway is a litter sister to Poke The Bear and Out Of Range, both group 1 winners at The Meadows, the stage for The Phoenix.
Article: Adam Dobbin for The Greyhound Recorder