By Isaac Murphy
For the last five weeks trainer Terence Jordan has made the three-hour drive to Albion Park from his Ettrick property in Northern New South Wales with a special passenger.
His name is Fernando Blaster and the soon to be two-year-old is already making waves in Queensland.
Boasting eight wins from sixteen race starts, Jordan’s young star will take on Heat 3 of The Christmas Stocking from the blue rug tonight.
You only have to look at his last two starts to see he’ll be competitive including a fourth in the heats of The G1 Brisbane Cup and a dominant 29.96 Grade 5 victory.
However, Jordan said his best is yet to come.
“He just isn’t finishing his races off like I’d like him to. In saying that, he’s had limited exposure over the 520 but late on is where he’s been found out,” Jordan said.
“I’ve got no doubt he’ll run out a strong 500m, he probably just needs three of four more hard runs put together to get used to the trip.”
Jordan said once the dog improves his race sense he’ll prove a force to be reckoned with.
“He’s not a brilliant beginner and at this stage is doing all his good work in the middle sections, with his run home being pretty average,” Jordan said.
“I’m hoping with a bit of improvement we can get him down to a 29.7 second dog.”
Jordan is confident some of that improvement will come on Thursday night, believing Fernando Blaster stacked up well against his rivals, with the first two home advancing to next week’s final.
“I think he’ll go very well, he’s got a bit of pace on the outside of him with Mottza, and Hay Billy beat him a couple of starts back when we jumped awfully,” he said.
“But I think he’ll be able to turn it around Thursday night.”
Fernando Blaster’s youth has given Jordan options on where to take him next. So, he has his sights set on a trip to Wentworth Park early next year.
“He’s not two until January, so we’ll be looking at some of the age restricted races in the next few months,” he said.
“The Derby is on in Sydney in late January, so if he can build his fitness between now and then I’d feel pretty confident he’d do well down there.”
With his Ettrick property in close proximity to the Lismore and Casino tracks, Jordan does the majority of his racing close to home, but with a dog like Fernando Blaster he’s happy to make the trip North.
“Most of my dogs are 400m dogs, so I tend to keep them around the Northern Rivers here,” he said.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of 500m dogs over the last few years, but I’ve got pretty high hopes for his future, so bringing him up to race at Albion over the trip was the best thing for him.”
Fernando Blaster has not only thrilled his trainer with his early career success, but owner Mervyn Papworth who tunes in on the radio to cheer his dog home.
“He’s a lovely owner, I think he’s in his mid-seventies lives in a unit in Sydney where he doesn’t have Foxtel doesn’t have a computer and doesn’t even have a phone, so he sits there at night and listens to the races on the radio,” Jordan said.
“I’ve never met him, he’s never seen the dog, I’ve tried to get him up here to my place to show him how well the dog is going, but he seems happy to just stay at home and watch from a distance.
“He called me up just before the litter was born and asked for the darkest pup, that’s how it started and he’s been great to both of us to this day.”