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Mario’s Rock a Cranbourne diamond

Mario Briganti has two excellent chances in feature events at Saturday’s Cranbourne Cup meeting but the Group 1-winning trainer will be watching from a distance after severing a finger in a horrific walking machine accident.

Briganti’s near-record heat winner Freda Rocks is all the rage in the GRV Vic Bred Maiden Series Final (520m), while consistent stayer Pilbara will contest the Casey Steel Victoria Cup (699m), races 2 and 6 respectively.

Last Saturday morning, Briganti all-but lost the middle finger on his left hand, necessitating emergency surgery that will hopefully save the finger.

“I was in hospital for three days but I’m all good now and the surgeon says there’s a better than 50 per cent chance the finger will survive,” Briganti explained.

“I won’t be able to handle the dogs on Saturday so all the pressure will be on Luckie (Karabitsakos, Melbourne Cup-winning trainer and close friend)!” he added with a laugh.

Freda Rocks broke her maiden in sensational fashion, winning a heat of the Vic Bred series in a near-record 29.62s.

WATCH: Freda Rocks win her Maiden Heat at Cranbourne from box one.

The major talking point was how it took the daughter of Fernando Bale ten starts to open her account; however the gobsmacking performance came as no surprise to her Tuerong mentor.

“She’s got a massive motor,” said Briganti.

“She’s always had x-factor written all over her but she’s been very enigmatic.

“I made a statement a while back that this bitch is every bit as quick as Angie Rocks was when she was flying and Angie Rocks ran 29.71s at Cranbourne.

“I trialled Freda Rocks at Cranbourne the week prior and she ran 29.80s so it wasn’t a surprise.

“But I can’t get over how she ran home in 8.60s. The wind was blowing her back towards the boxes in the straight and I think on a still night, with no wind she would have given the record a shake.

“She cracked a fibula at Sandown last year and then while I was treating that she came on season, which was probably the best thing that could have happened because it gave her the chance to develop and mature.”

Despite drawing box five, GRV’s Watchdog has marked Freda Rocks at a prohibitive $1.30.

“On ability she should put them away but it wouldn’t really surprise me if she misses the start, gets into trouble and manages to win without being impressive,” Briganti said.

“You do question them when it takes ten starts to win their maiden but hopefully she’s turned the corner now and if she puts it all together you’ll see a very, very fast bitch over the next three to four months. She’ll run 700m on her ear too.”

Briganti’s second feature race contender on Saturday is Pilbara, a recent placegetter in the Warragul Distance Cup on Warragul Cup night, with Briganti’s only concern a less than ideal 16-day break between runs.

“He missed a run at Sandown but I still think he can win,” Briganti offered.

“He’s a nice, honest dog. I’ve been hoping he can take the next step but he’ll need to improve his box manners.”

Briganti added that his Group 1 Bold Trease winner Manila Knight is on the comeback trail after sustaining a wrist injury when preparing for the Sale Cup.

“He had a little crack and was in plaster for about five weeks but he’ll be ready to start free galloping soon.”

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About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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