A reformed ‘hot head’ will lead champion trainer Jason Mackay’s assault at a maiden Crownbet Dapto Megastar (520m) triumph on Thursday night.
Mackay’s top-grade chaser Riley Tokaam will jump from box five in the region’s only Group 1 event.
The classy sprinter looks to be the trainer’s best chance to win the race.
He’s enjoyed an abundance of success at Group 1 level during his extensive career – including taking out last year’s Melbourne Cup with Ando’s Mac – but is yet to win Dapto’s $75,000-to-the-winner feature. “It would be a beauty to win it just like all of them,” Mackay said.
“That’s why you get up and do the long hours and spend most of your day and half your night. It would be a nice feather in the cap.”
Riley Tokaam has always shown Mackay that he had the potential to compete at the top level.
But the son of Don't Knocka Him and Skyela Tokaam needed some time to put it all together.
“He took some settling down and some learning because he was a bit of a hot head,” Mackay said.
“He didn’t like the bath or travelling or kenneling. He had to take it in his stride and work it out. He has had a few starts now and has really worked it out now.
“At the moment, he is nice and settled and content. He is a handy dog.”
Riley Tokaam was a $4.20 TAB hope to win the Megastar on Tuesday afternoon.
He is the second faster qualifier from last week’s heats after running home in 29.79 seconds behind Seona Thompson’s top hope Aqua Cheetah (29.71 secs).
“His run was super. He is nice and strong and got to the line well,” Mackay said.
“It’s the first time they have had the series this way [with heats and a final] and I think it has been outstanding as well.
“We have had some really good dogs and a few interstate dogs.
“He has been healthy since the heats.
"There are no nerves. He has had a nice week. He has done his normal routine of walking and some pre-galloping.”
Mackay expects the squeeze draw won’t be an issue for Riley Tokaam, which has a record of three wins and three placings in six starts from box five.
“I am pretty happy with the draw,” the trainer said.
“It is not an ideal box five but it suits his style. He likes the middle of the track.
“It is just a matter of what from boxes to the winning post the first time. Both the dogs in six and seven, Barking Bad and Zambora Cross are both going to want to come across. He has to miss them.”
The Group 1 will jump at 8.58pm.
Entry to the venue is free on the night, with kids activities and rides on track.
- Group 1 – Crownbet Megastar box draw
1. Asa Barboza
2. Where Art Thou
3. Another Gangsta
4. Rohan Hill
5. Riley Tokaam
6. Barking Bad
7. Zambora Cross
8. Aqua Cheetah.
Reserves: 9. Bombshell Bandit 10. Up Hill Jill.