Ray Smith’s long drive from Forbes in the Central West region of NSW to Sandown Park last weekend paid off when Feral Franky booked a berth in Sunday evening’s Group 3 Bill Collins Speed Star (515m).
The innovative Speed Star series will feature 20 two-dog match races over 515m, 595m and 715m, with $190,000 in prizemoney on offer.
“I like the Speed Star concept but there’s not much change out of eight hours getting to Sandown so you’ve got to have the right dog,” Ray Smith said.
“I decided to give Feral Franky a crack because he’s a fast dog, he’s foolproof in terms of chase, he travels well and I knew he would go okay first-up at a new track.”
“I had a couple of weeks to fill in before the Richmond Riches series, so I thought we’d take him to Sandown and hopefully pick up a few bob.”
The winner of six of his 17 starts, including a last start victory in the Group 3 New Sensation on Golden Easter Egg night, Feral Franky lined up in last Sunday’s final Speed Star trial session.
Smith’s eleventh hour qualifying gamble was rewarded when Feral Franky clocked a flying 29.27sec to snatch seventh place on the Speed Star standings.
“We were hoping he would do enough to get in and he did,” Smith said.
“I was a little bit concerned about the weather last Sunday because to run time everything has to be perfect and when the stayers trialled earlier on it didn’t look like being conducive to fast times.
“But they say if you wait ten minutes in Melbourne the weather changes and it did! It was hard to know what to expect because I haven’t had a lot of dogs go around Sandown before – hardly any – but I was happy with what he ran. Hopefully he’ll go a bit quicker this week.”
Feral Franky earned a match race date with series favourite Midnight Dare, which is making her first appearance for champion Victorian trainer Seona Thompson after winning five of her first six starts in NSW.
Midnight Dare, which took second place on the standings with a scorching 29.17sec trial, heads TAB’s Bill Collins market at $2.10, with Feral Franky a $9 chance, while Midnight Dare is $1.40 head to head with Feral Franky at $3.
“Feral Franky will need to show a bit more early,” Smith said.
“He’s a little bit messy in the boxes – he wants to do everything at a million miles an hour – and he can be a bit tardy but he can also get it right.
“He’s very quick in the middle and hits the line nice. If he gets the start right I don’t think there’ll be much between him and Midnight Dare.
“I’m not saying he’s going to beat her, because she’s very fast, but I know I’m going to get a run for my money.”