Group 1-winning owner George Farrugia hasn’t been afraid to part company with his hard-earned for well-bred pups and his astute eye has once again hit the mark with Group 1 Hume Cup (600m) favourite True Detective.
A keen breeding buff, Farrugia decided to change his usual approach and go all-in when he spoke to prominent NSW breeder Bruce Fletcher about his Black Magic Opal – Little Grey litter.
“Bruce said he was looking to get out of the game so I bought the whole litter,” Farrugia explained.
“It was the first time Wade Gallagher, my partner in the dogs, and I had kept the whole litter.
“It’s not a cheap thing to do but we rolled the dice because the dam, Little Grey, had already produced with El Magnifico and we liked the cross with Black Magic Opal.
“There were eight in the litter, six have won and one hasn’t raced yet. There’s nothing else as good as True Detective but the others are going okay. A dog called Ned Isakoff has just won three in a row in Tasmania and Sherriff Max is going pretty well.”
True Detective, which is trained by Jeff Britton, handled the step up to elite company with aplomb when setting the pace in last Saturday night’s Hume Cup heats.
Drawn in box five, True Detective started $3.70 favourite in the fourth heat and after settling second behind Chief Fernando ($4.50) he finished powerfully in the home straight to win running away by 2.4 lengths in a best of night 34.20s.
It continued his near-faultless middle distance record, being his eighth win from nine assignments over 600m at The Meadows (four from four) and 595m at Sandown.
His only “defeat” came in Sandown’s Group 3 Speed Star series where he won his match race but finished third on overall times to Spring Bridge.
“I think Jeff (Britton) recognised early on that 500 wasn’t going to be his go,” Farrugia said.
“I think Jeff (Britton) recognised early on that 500 wasn’t going to be his go” – GEORGE FARRUGIA
“It was a matter of whether he could get 600m or not. He ran really fast time at his first go at The Meadows (34.19s) and he hasn’t looked back from there.
“He’d had a couple of 700s prior to the Hume Cup heats and won at Sandown. His mother won over 720m at Wenty Park so the pedigree suggests he’ll get it.
“It was a fair effort to drop back from 700m to 600m and do what he did last Saturday night. He ran his best first split at The Meadows – 8.98s – and to run the best time of the five heats was a bonus.
“We’re really rapt with the way he’s going. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a good blue dog before either!”
Farrugia’s hopes of adding to the three Group 1 victories he celebrated in 2017/18 with sprinting star Striker Light (Golden Easter Egg, Temlee and National Futurity) received a massive boost when True Detective drew box one for the Hume Cup.
Unbeaten in three appearances from the red, True Detective is TAB’s $2.20 favourite.
“You’d rather have the red rug than be drawn in the middle,” Farrugia said.
“But if you miss it off box one over 600 you can get buried away on the fence. Hopefully he jumps okay and gets a little bit of room because his middle and last sections are his best.
“It would mean a lot to win a Group 1 because it puts him on the radar and in contention for invitation races like the Rookie Rebel, even though it isn’t until February.”
George Farrugia joins GRV’s Molly Haines each Tuesday at 11am on RSN’s Off The Leash radio programme.
WATCH: True Detective (5) flashes home late to win his Hume Cup heat in 34.20sec (Best).
PHOTO: George Farrugia (left), uncle Mario Azzopardi and trainer Jeff Britton with True Detective. Photo by: Jason McKeown.