• Friday, 11 Feb, 2022,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

‘Jungle’ drums are beating

Have superstar greyhound, will travel.

That’s been NSW country trainer Ray “Jack” Smith’s motto in recent years, as the Forbes-based mentor has enjoyed back-to-back dream runs with cult hero sprinters Feral Franky and now Jungle Deuce.

However, despite coming close, Smith is yet to cross a Group 1 triumph in Melbourne off his bucket list.

Feral Franky ran second in the 2019 Topgun and third in the Maturity, while Jungle Deuce ran sixth in the Topgun last November.

“Winning a Group 1 in Melbourne would be the icing on the cake.”

Brad Hill Billy contested the Topgun in 2015 and G1 Hume Cup the following year, finishing unplaced behind champions Fernando Bale and Fanta Bale respectively.

But that anomaly is set to be corrected at The Meadows on Saturday night when Jungle Deuce chases an eighth straight win in the TAB Rookie Rebel (600m).

It would be a third successive G1 victory for Jungle Deuce, with the regally related Barcia Bale x Serena Fly High half-brother to 2021 Australian Cup hero Tommy Shelby  having won the Paws Of Thunder in Sydney and Gold Bullion (both sprint races) in Brisbane in his last three starts.

“It’s just been enormous – we’ve been blessed – and winning a Group 1 in Melbourne would be the icing on the cake,” said Smith.

WATCH: JUNGLE DEUCE (4) claimed a thrilling come-from-behind victory over 2021 Temlee winner WOW (5) in the G1 Paws Of Thunder at Wentworth Park on January 22.

“Is that being greedy?” he added with a laugh.

“I don’t think we’re greedy but winning a G1 in Victoria would definitely be one off the bucket list.

“Some people don’t like travelling but I enjoy it and I’m not travelling with any ‘Joes’. I think anybody would have fun taking ‘Feral’ and ‘Deuce’ around!

“Brad Hill Billy was in the Topgun and the Shootout too. People forget about poor old Brad!”

While Jungle Deuce’s two victories at G1 level have both come in sprint events, he won heat and final of the G2 Golden Sands over 600m in Brisbane in January, defeating another Rookie Rebel fancy in McCooly’s Lad.

He won his only other 600m assignment at Dubbo.

The Meadows, Saturday 8.08pm – First prize $75,000
1 JUNGLE DEUCE (Ray Smith, Forbes NSW)
2 MCCOOLY’S LAD (Anthony Azzopardi, Rowsley VIC)
3 JARICK BALE (Mark Delbridge, Balliang VIC)
4 MEPUNGA WARRIOR (Jeff Britton, Anakie VIC)
5 KNICKS BALE (Samantha Grenfell, Anakie VIC)
6 ASTON ULYSSES (Paul Abela, Parwan VIC)
7 EXTRA MALT (Leanne Hall, Marburg QLD)
8 COLLINDA PATTY (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale VIC)
9 INVICTUS RISING (Garry Selkrig, Devon Meadows VIC)
10 KING OF CALYPSO (Tim Britton, Lara VIC)

“The Rookie Rebel is a little bit less money than the Temlee but we’ve got a few ‘bob’ and we’ve always looked at what is best for the dog,” Smith said.

“The Rookie Rebel is what’s best for the dog.

“It (Rookie Rebel) has been on the cards for a while. I just wanted to make sure the timing was right.”

TAB’s market on Saturday’s three invitationals suggests Smith has pulled the right rein in targeting the Rookie Rebel, with Jungle Deuce $2.10 favourite after drawing Box 1.

“I couldn’t believe he was $7 last week,” Smith quipped.

“I thought I’d made it quite clear the Rookie Rebel was my preference and I said to the boys you might want to get some of that $7!

“He seems to maintain his speed for the 600m. The tricky bit is the corner start but drawing Box 1 is not a disadvantage on a corner start. He’s been beginning pretty well and he can handle himself early.

“It would’ve been better if McCooly’s Lad (Box 2) and Jarick Bale (Box 3) had drawn wider, because they can begin.

“Of course you want to win, but I wouldn’t say I’m over-confident.”


PAWNOTE: Rookie Rebel (aka “Baldy”) won 36 of his 67 starts, including the 1957 Melbourne Cup, inaugural 1958 Australian Cup and 1958 Hobart Thousand. He initially sold for a reported 500 pounds (approx. $13,500 these days) at a time when a brand-new family car cost 1000 pounds (approx. $27,000) and later sold for 1500 pounds at a time when 880 pounds would buy a house. He sired 1961 Melbourne Cup winner, Bybrae.

Ray Smith’s 2019 Topgun and Maturity placegetter Feral Franky.

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

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)

Up Next

Grenfells out to break Temlee ‘jinx’

Kinson Bale could be a Temlee ‘hoodoo guru’.