By Isaac Murphy
Bookmakers give Queensland virtually no hope of winning tonight's TAB Origin Match Race at the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club.
Queensland's Infrared Star has been listed as a $5.50 chance to overcome star New South Wales speedster Feral Franky ($1.15) in the 520m dash.
But trainer Joanne Price is quietly confident her sprinter can give the Ray Smith-trained Feral Franky a scare.
We caught up with Price to hear her thoughts on Infrared Star's chances, and to hear about how Infrared Lad will fare in the Origin Distance.
We also caught up with Ray Smith to find out how Feral Franky has progressed since setting the Albion Park track alight in a trial last week.
TRAINER: Joanne Price
Infrared Lad – TAB Origin Distance Final
Infrared Star – TAB Origin Match Race
A select group of nine greyhounds are chosen to represent their state over the Sprint, Distance and Match race formats making it all the more remarkable that Joanne Price’s litter brothers Infrared Star and Infrared Lad will be lining up in the match race and distance final respectively.
“It’s a bit overwhelming getting picked for the match race, I thought they were having a laugh with me at the start, but in all seriousness, I couldn’t be more thrilled and can’t wait to wear that maroon rug,” Price said.
“It’s something as a trainer you never expect, this concept only got going last year and to see the growth and interest it’s generating I’m thrilled to be involved.”
Infrared Star has been handpicked to tackle New South Wales youngster Feral Franky in the match race a format price believes will suit her dog, which is currently quoted at $5 in a two-dog field.
“He’s run 29.7 in a field around Albion Park and his only question mark over the 520 has been his start and from all reports Feral Franky isn’t the quickest away either, it should be a really interesting battle the match race looks to suit them both,” Price said
“I think a big reason why he was chosen was matching the dog he would be racing against and looking at the other dogs racing manners they’re very similar to ours and luckily the selectors have decided we were the best chance at holding him out.”
“The other dogs trial (29.56) speaks to his talent, but ‘The Star’ knows the track much better than he does and the underdog got up in the match race last year as well, he’ll give it a shake.”
Infrared Lad jumps from box five in a loaded distance final and Price is hopeful a bold front running performance could see him run a cheeky race.
“He’s going to have to be up there somewhere in the leading brigade, he’s not boxed particularly well (5) but you know what you’ll get from him he’s tough to get past if he gets to the top as we saw in the Free For All a couple of weeks ago,” she said.
“He’s bouncing around like a lunatic, they’re both ready to go they know race day I’ve got no doubt they’ll be on when they head to the track tomorrow afternoon.”
TRAINER: Ray Smith
TAB Origin Distance Final – Little Digger
TAB Origin Match Race – Feral Franky
At just over two years of age Feral Franky is a Group winning dog with over $120,000 in prize money, statistics that speak to the quality of Ray Smith’s New South Wales star.
But it’s not about the prestige or the money this week when Feral Franky stares down Infrared Star in what could be the deciding rubber in Thursday’s TAB Origin Match Race.
“It’s truly an honour and a privilege to be chosen, you look at the Group One credentials of some of our dogs in the Sprint Final and to be picked as your state’s number one for the match race is humbling,” Smith said.
“He’s the full package this dog, his start is his only slight weakness other than that he’s good in a field, loves chasing and is strong through the line hopefully we see all those qualities this week.”
With only one other dog to compete with under the match race conditions Smith is hopeful that Feral Franky can show what he’s capable of with an unimpeded run but threw a cheeky jab if they did come together.
“Let’s hope in a two-dog race they don’t run into each other but if they do hopefully he does what Brett Kenny used to do to Wally Lewis and touch him up,” Smith laughed.
“I had a good watch of Infrared Star last week, they’re doesn’t seem to be much between them with early speed and they’re both strong late, I’m hoping my bloke can open up a gap when he rips through that second sectional.”
Smith is also engaged in the TAB Distance Final with last weeks Albion Park Free For All winner Little Digger coming up with the one, Smith over the moon to have two runners.
“He’s not in the market Little Digger, but I think he’ll run a good honest race it’s certainly not beyond him to end up on the podium with a medal that’d be a great result,” Smith said.
“I’ve been blessed with a great owner in Lyndall McIntyre who’s trusted me with both Feral Franky and Little Digger, I’m rapt to give him this opportunity as well.”
A New South Welshman through and through the Forbes trainer gave his predication for tomorrow nights result.
“I’ll give you a chance in the stayers, I don’t know how you’re going to hold out Zipping Bailey in the Sprint and if we’re tied one one I’ll back my boy to bring the shield home,” he said.