It took Ima Lonely Boy (pictured above with owner/trainer Sam Ferguson and son Xavier) five trainers to find his perfect match in Sam Ferguson, and together they have reached their first Group 1 journey in the heats of the $355,000 Australian Cup (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Trainers dream about having a runner in a group race and Sam is no different; she is however lucky enough to have her wish granted after just seven months training greyhounds.
“It’s very nerve wracking being involved in the heats of such a big race, but it’s very rewarding at the same time,” Sam explained.
At 7.13pm on Saturday night Sam, 25, expects her heart to be racing as she places her first group race contender into box six (Form Guide).
“I am happy with the field but the box draw doesn’t suit him; he loves the rail so being in box 1 or 2 would have suited him perfectly.”
“Whether he jumps across to the rails in time to lead the field from box six is a different story, but anything can happen and I am just so proud we made it into a heat,” Sam said.
“There are plenty of females in greyhound racing and I think it’s important to take any opportunity that is handed to you; give every dog a chance because you don’t know where it will lead you” – SAM FERGUSON
Joe Amato, former owner of Ima Lonely Boy, gave the greyhound to Sam as a giveaway but is still heavily supportive.
“I will never be able to thank Joe enough for giving me the opportunity to train his dogs. I hadn’t trained a dog before on my own so I suppose I got very lucky,” the Geelong trainer said.
Since arriving at Sam’s kennels, Ima Lonely Boy has had 31 starts for six wins and nine placings, and Sam believes the key to his success was stepping him up in distance, especially over the 525m at The Meadows where he has won five races.
The excitement leading into the duos first Group 1 venture has been filled with happy tears and nerves. Sam and Joe are so excited they have both been playing the race out in their subconscious.
“All week we have been sending each other messages about dreams we had the night before regarding the race. He ran second by a head in my dream the other night,” Sam said.
As a young female trainer, Sam thinks that believing in yourself is crucial.
“There are plenty of females in greyhound racing and I think it’s important to take any opportunity that is handed to you; give every dog a chance because you don’t know where it will lead you.”
Saturday night is set to be a fantastic night of racing at The Meadows with eight heats of the $355,000 Group 1 Australian Cup and four heats of the $145,000 Group 1 Australian Stayers Cup (725m).WATCH: Ima Lonely Boy’s (1) personal best time of 30.06sec at The Meadows in February, one of his five wins at The Meadows.