It takes supreme confidence and a little courage to name a greyhound, or any racing animal for that matter, Special Talent and Mick Carter is hoping his judgement will be vindicated in Saturday’s Group 2 Ballarat Cup Final (450m).
Kialla-based Carter is a man of few words and certainly isn’t one to get carried away with his greyhounds but he and father Mal had such a lofty opinion of Special Talent they burdened him with the optimistic moniker.
“He’s been in the kennels since he was seven months old and he’s always been good,” said Carter.
“We bought him off Kim Hyde in NSW and we were lucky to get him too.
“As you know, nothing is sold until the money is in the bank. Someone else had made an offer for the dog but my old man said the money will be in the bank that afternoon and that’s how we got him.
“If he hadn’t had kidney problems he would’ve been in Group races a lot earlier than this.
“The vet said there was a chance he wouldn’t race again after his kidney issues but I laughed and said he’ll be in the Melbourne Cup. When he came back and ran near the record at Shepparton first-up (21.49s) the vet said she might have been wrong!”
While Special Talent has won eight of his 13 starts since spending five months on the sidelines, he didn’t quite fulfil Carter’s Melbourne Cup prediction.
After a flying 29.48s prelude victory he was in early bother from box five in his heat when seventh to Simon Told Helen.
The son of Fernando Bale then made his Ballarat debut in last Saturday’s heats where he started at a generous $8.60 from box seven and after carving across in a pressure-charged speed battle he sprinted clear to defeat Junk Food Junkie by 2.86 lengths in 25.20s.
WATCH: Special Talent win his heat of the Ballarat Cup from box seven.
“I had something on him,” quipped Carter.
“On paper it was the hardest heat because of the speed in the race.
“But the six (Run Baba Run) had the best box speed and it was on his inside so I was hoping it might run a bit of cover and what happened was what I was hoping would happen.”
Special Talent was the second fastest of the six heat winners, shaded for qualifying honours by Daniel Avocado’s 25.16s, and despite drawing wide again – unsuitably according to Carter – in eight for the Cup Final he’s on the third line of betting at $6 with TAB.
“I’d rather draw the red every day of the week,” Carter said.
“Look at his record off the red (3 wins from 4 starts).
“He can still win as long as he comes out with them but it won’t be easy with that much speed underneath him.
“He’s good enough to win. It’s just a matter of what happens out of the boxes.”
With Special Talent being adept at both one and two-turn tracks, Carter will have no shortage of feature options early in the New Year, identifying the Australian Cup, Paws Of Thunder and Warragul Cup as possible options.
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