QUEENSLANDER John McCarthy couldn’t think of a better platform than Saturday night’s Australian Cup for his in-form but out-of-luck speedster Slick to break a frustrating Group 1 hoodoo.
McCarthy and Slick have come agonisingly close to celebrating Group 1 glory three times in recent months, finishing runner-up in the Brisbane Cup, Paws Of Thunder and Temlee.
But those disappointments will be quickly forgotten if Slick can become the first Queenslander since the great Bogie Leigh in 2004 to reign supreme in The Meadows’ flagship event.
“Going back a couple of months when Slick ran second in the Brisbane Cup I thought how good is this,” said McCarthy, who moved to Australia from London as a 21-year-old in 1977.
“Of course he’s since run two more seconds in the Paws Of Thunder and Temlee, so it would be brilliant to see him take that next step and what better place to do it, because the Australian Cup is one of the big three, along with the Melbourne Cup and Golden Easter Egg.
“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. When you run second you think ‘if only’, but on the other hand just about every trainer would give their arm to run second in a Group 1.”
Victory would be especially sweet for McCarthy as he purchased the homebred Slick’s mother, Pearl La Zinger, as a three-month-old pup.
“It’s a bit of a cliché but it’s a dream come true with this dog,” McCarthy said.
Slick is one of two Queensland-trained finalists with champion mentor Tony Brett hoping Opal Nera can follow in the footsteps of his immortal Cup heroine Bogie Leigh.
“It’s a long time since Bogie Leigh won the Australian Cup and it’s a great buzz to be here again,” Brett said.
“Victoria does it so well and it’s a real privilege to be in such a big race.
“It’s great to see another Queenslander there but hopefully John (McCarthy) will have to wait until next time. I beat him in the Brisbane Cup with Fast Times so I don’t think he’ll be sitting next to me in the plane if I beat him again.”