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Baker to give Feral Franky pups a touch of magic

By Isaac Murphy

Relationships run deep in the greyhound game and when ex-New South Wales trainer Brian Baker called old friend Ray Smith about getting a straw from the incomparable Feral Franky, he was more than happy to oblige.

 The Morayfield based Baker is now waiting on one of the first Feral Franky litters in Queensland, served to his brood bitch Waikarie Magic.

“We’d been asking Ray (Smith) about a straw when he was still racing and racing well,” Baker said.

“Fortunately for us, everything aligned when he announced the retirement and Waikarie Magic came on season about four weeks later, so we gave him a ring and got a straw.

“It’s exciting times as he was a wonderful chaser and did everything right, he had a great confirmation about him, a great will to win and we’re really enthusiastic to now have a link with the dog.”

Smith said it was an easy decision to send Baker a straw, they’d been racing dogs together for decades and the timing couldn’t have been better for both the dam and sire.

“Myself and my wife Marie have known Brian (Baker) for a long time, he did it all at Dubbo from calling, training and I think he was even president, so I had a lot of time for him when he rang about a straw,” Smith said.

“Our priority is trying to look out for brood bitches who are on season and Brian (Baker) called me and said his bitch was ready to go, so off we went.

“He’s serving about two a week at the moment, but we haven’t really been to Queensland yet, so I imagine they’ll be one of the first litters on the ground up there.”

Understandably, most interest will be around Feral Franky as a sire but Baker’s proven brood bitch Waikarie Magic built her own impressive resume in her racing career.

“She won almost $60,000 in prize money, mostly over the 395 and 520 metres and almost stretched out to the 600, so she achieved a fair bit in her ninety starts,” Baker said.

“She did almost all of that racing at Albion Park on Thursday nights at the highest level, she had some racing pedigree and on top of that had a beautiful demeanour and temperament, so it was only natural we took her to breed.

A dam’s first litter can be critical to their ongoing success and despite going to a relatively unknown sire, Baker knew Magic was a good mum after what her Brad Hillbilly pups have achieved thus far.

“People up in Queensland were asking ‘who’s that’ when we took her to Brad Hillbilly, but he was a very good dog with $290,000 in prize money and the second quickest dog at Wentworth Park in the 29.30 range,” Baker said.

“He was a member of the rare Kinloch Brae line too, so he ticked a lot of boxes.

“Their progeny has been a great success, Waikarie Willow is a Thursday night winner and as of last week Waikarie Bell is a Thursday night winner.

“Brothers Bolt Of Lightning and Magical Revival have both won six races and Waikarie Elly who’s had injury problems is an Albion Park winner.

“To have only five in the litter and a one hundred percent win rate is pretty rare.”

Though Brian Baker is the name in the book as the trainer, he was quick to point out none of what he does would be possible without wife Cathy and fellow Morayfield trainer Karen Kleinhans who races Waikarie Bell and Magical Revival.

“It can’t be understated what Cathy does in preparing the dogs and doing everything to get them to race day, whatever it is work in the yard, talking to graders organising everything behind the scenes, she’s as much a part of it as me,” Baker said.

“Karen (Kleinhans) lives just down the road from us and we struck up an immediate friendship, she’s become an excellent trainer in her own right especially with Waikarie Bell and is the first to come and help you slip our dogs at 4:30am.”

Baker said Bolt of Lightning and Magical Revival were looking like to pick of the litter doing everything right through break in, but it had been the girls who had stepped up and enjoyed the most recent success.

“The dogs actually broke in a lot better than the bitches, we thought we might have a couple of really handy ones, but it’s Waikarie Willow and Waikarie Bell who’ve taken the mantle,” Baker said.

“Willow is a 30.10 winner at Albion Park and Bell continues to surprise - the further we put her the better she gets.

 “We’re really looking forward to seeing her over the 710 this Thursday, if she draws one or two watch out as she will rail the whole way around.”

Given the success of Waikarie Magic’s first litter, Baker didn’t waste any time getting some more pups off the ground this time to a recognised sire.

“Waikarie Magic handled the first litter so well, so we went to Fabregas for her second and we’ve got a bunch of eight-month-old pups running around in the back yard right now,” Baker said.

“Unlike the first litter, the demand to buy was a bit higher so we sold them at an early age and you can tell why.

“The way they move when they’re running around out the back, they’re going to be something when fully furnished.”

If Baker was enamoured with Magic’s first two litters, he can’t wait to see what kind of pups she produces with Feral Franky.

“Like a lot of people, we were captured by the performances of Feral Franky,” Baker said.

 “Conveniently, he is owned by a good friend Ray ‘Jack’ Smith and is out of a complementary Collision line, so we were lucky enough to be one of the first up here to grab a straw from him.

“Waikarie Magic was served about two weeks ago so hopefully it won’t be long until we have a yard full of Feral Franky pups running around.”

Baker was certainly one of the lucky ones getting a straw so quickly, Smith saying he had a list down to the floor of potential buyers.

“I had people coming up to me for the last six months of his career wanting to give me money for a straw, but we didn’t have any at the time,” Smith said.

“It’s so tough these days to know when to pull them out with so many enticing races on and we left when he was still near the peak of his powers.

“I’ll miss the drives and the thrills he gave me, but we knew the demand would be there when we called it a day and now I’ve got a different challenge of trying to fulfil all the orders we’ve had placed.”

If all goes to plan, it’s going to be a busy kennel at the Baker’s as they try to secure a straw from arguably the greatest sprinter ever seen in Queensland.

“We’ve had Wheatacre tested as well and are hoping she comes on in the next couple of weeks, we’re hopefully going to Sennachie with her and have had a number of enquiries about pups already,” Baker said.

“The mating hasn’t started yet and we don’t want to pre-empt anything, but when she does come on season that’s another litter of pups that could be anything.

“A big thank you has to go to breeding guru Graham Moscow who lives and breathes the game and gave us the nod that they would be an excellent match.”

As excited as Baker is about his impending pups, the kennel is still fully operational on a racing basis, cracking the top ten trainers list at Albion Park last year and having picked up where they left off in 2019.

“You go through runs as a greyhound trainer, you can be going great guns and everything is working, but it only takes a split second for things to change,” Baker said.

“There are sour times too when the whole kennel seems to come up with niggling injuries, but that’s the game.

“Our small team of three, myself, my wife Cathy and Karen Kleinhans who works closely with us, have certainly got a kick of seeing dogs we bred, reared, broke in and raced go out and win.”