One of Australia’s most popular greyhounds, Feral Franky, will be the headline act in Saturday night’s heats of the Group 1 Maturity Classic (525m) at The Meadows.
Trained by Ray Smith at Forbes in the Central West of NSW, Feral Franky has been elevated to cult hero status, courtesy of his curious moniker and an eight-race winning streak, the highlight of which came in the Group 1 Vic Peters Classic at Wentworth Park last Saturday.
“The media started to run with the name – The Feral – and he keeps winning,” said Smith.
“I don’t know what will happen if he gets beaten – they might all jump off – and it won’t be that easy down in Melbourne.”
Feral Franky’s last ‘defeat’ came in early May, when he visited Melbourne for Sandown’s Group 3 Speed Star series; however he actually won his match race and finished second on overall time, to Victorian Flynn.
The son of champion sire Collision’s picket-fence form-line also includes the Group 3 Flying Amy Classic, Group 3 New Sensation and Listed Richmond Riches.
The astute Smith is no stranger to a topliner, training 2017 National Derby hero Big Daddy Bee and 2016 Golden Easter Egg runner-up Brad Hill Billy, while he owned 2004 NSW Greyhound of the Year Irinka Barbie.
But he always knew there was something special about the people’s greyhound, Feral Franky.
“I knew he had a heap of ability but he just had to put it all together,” Smith explained.
“Early days, he wanted to do everything at a million miles an hour and he kept getting into trouble.
“I don’t think he’ll ever lead a race. Although I shouldn’t say never because he’s started to get his box manners sorted out.
“He has terrific track sense. It’s very unique to have a dog that chases so hard and is so smart.
“He’s also unique in that he cops a check and still runs time. He was in trouble early last week (Vic Peters Classic) but still runs 29.80s. Unbelievable.
“They count his second in the Speed Star as a loss but it really wasn’t and his two defeats before that he ran 29.80s getting beaten at Wentworth Park. He’s never put in a run that has disappointed me. Never.”
Feral Franky will make his Meadows debut in the fourth of eight heats of the $100,000 to-the-winner Maturity, where he’s the $1.80 favourite from box seven in TAB’s market on race 6, to jump at 8.37pm.
Feral Franky is on the third line of the all-in market at $8, behind Sennachie, the $4.20 favourite, and $5 second elect Black Opium, which ran the quinella in the Group 1 Brisbane Cup earlier this month.
“I trialled him at The Meadows between Brisbane and the Vic Peters and he ran 29.85s,” Smith said.
“He’s won four out of five from box eight but it’s more about what the dogs drawn around him do.
“Looking at his race, I think the fact the dogs he’s up against have plenty of experience at The Meadows will stand him in good stead. Hopefully there won’t be too much interference and he can do his thing.
“But he won’t want to do too much wrong.”
Feral Franky will have a travelling companion on the long road trip, with Little Digger, runner-up in the Group 1 Association Cup in April, to tackle the great Tornado Tears in the first of two heats of the Listed The Fireball (725m).
Tornado Tears is the prohibitive $1.22 favourite, with Little Digger a $23 outsider.
“He put in a nice run at Wentworth Park last Saturday night but it looks like a tough race,” Smith offered.