Lara trainer David Geall was ‘playing it straight’ on dual G2 country cups winner and Shepparton 385m track record-holder, Ferdinand Boy.
In fact, he was ‘straight down the line’ on his flying machine’s continuing Healesville foray.
“I still don’t think he’s comfortable ‘up the straight’,” Geall said. “He’s so used to being an explosive one-bend dog.
“I’ve been asking him to do something completely different and he’s having trouble working it out.
“I’m not convinced he can be at his best at Healesville. That last 50 metres, he loses his way a bit.”
However, that hasn’t stopped Ferdinand Boy winning a Victorian Straight Track Championship heat, finishing third in the final and then clocking 19.00sec (Best) – all over 350m at Healesville from his past three starts.
And it won’t sway Geall from his ‘Healesville Festival of Racing’ straight track mission, with the The Arrow (350m) and G2 Healesville Cup (350m) pencilled in bold on Ferdinand Boy’s racing itinerary.
Fresh from a two-week let-up, Ferdinand Boy (Box 5) will have a pipe-opener for both series when he lines up in a Free For All (300m) – Race 9, 1.55pm – at Healesville on Sunday.
A week later, he’ll contest The Arrow – a concept involving four head-to-head races with the fastest time declared the overall winner and receiving a $20,000 first prize.
Following that, it’s the G2 Healesville Cup series – heats (September 5) and final (September 12) – with the ultimate winner taking home a $50,000 booty.
“The Arrow will suit him,” Geall said. “He won’t get crowded early, but he’ll still need to go between 18.80-19.00sec.”
WATCH: Flying machine Ferdinand Boy (6) clocks 19.00sec (Best) at Healesville on August 8.
Ferdinand Boy (Jan ’19 Fernando Bale x Nayla Swift), a winner of 25 from 45 including six of his past 10, will have kennel companion and ‘cousin’ Hill Top Jonah (May ’19 Fernando Boy x Up Hill Jill) coming along for the ride on Sunday.
Hill Top Jonah (Box 1), a winner of 11 from 24 including his past three (all at Healesville), is engaged in a Mixed 4/5 (350m) – Race 8, 1.35pm.
“He’s probably three lengths off what’s required in The Arrow, so he’s only Healesville Cup bound,” Geall said. “He’s adapted quite well to straight track racing, but the 300m seems to suit him better.
“He likes the fence and is very reliable out of the boxes.”
It will be a ‘family affair’ weekend for Geall, who also has Hill Top Jonah’s litter brothers, Koblenz (Box 7) and Hill Top Jack (Box 5), in the $25,000 to-the-winner G3 Cranbourne Classic (520m) on Saturday – Race 8, 6.26pm.
“Koblenz (17 wins from 26 starts) is our best chance, but it will be hard to get around Qwara Bale (Box 1),” Geall said. “But it won’t surprise me if he charges out and goes straight to the front.
“He was unable to cross over from the ‘pink’ in a heat, but he’s so reliable. He’s going super and I’m expecting a big run from him.”
Geall added that Hill Top Jack’s (13 wins from 33 starts) heat effort, where he ran fastest qualifier Qwara Bale to a length, “wasn’t surprising”.
“I was over the moon with the run… He lost some momentum up the back straight and got out too late.
“It’s a shame he drew the middle, he needed one, two or three. And $18 is probably the right odds because of the draw.”
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