By Isaac Murphy
Feral Franky is a household name in greyhound racing, but it was arguably his Group Three Flying Amy Classic win where he came from last to score that launched him to stardom for trainer Ray Smith, undefeated in Brisbane ‘The Feral’ is back this time for the Group One Gold Bullion.
Three from three at the track and trip it was expected Franky would push on to the Brisbane Cup after his Group win, but the trainer took his time with the then two-year-old and six months later it’s paid off.
“Everyone was telling I should stay for the Brisbane Cup, but we’d come for the Flying Amy and won that, and it came down to the old saying keep yourself in the best company any your dog in the worst,” Smith said.
“Fortunately, it paid off and we were able to capitalise on the age races with a Group One Vic Peters and a couple of other podiums, but the training wheels are off now we’re in with the big boys.”
Feral Franky is the marquee name in a star-studded heat, Smith hoping he can hold on to a hot speed early before a customary finish.
“There’s a lot of early speed in the race and on paper it looks alright from the pink, Farmor Fearsome will probably crash to the fence early and give us some time to balance up,” he said
“Dogs like Wolf Racketeer, Dam Slippery we can’t go with them early but as long as we tack on.”
“Worst case we get pushed off the track if he can at least find the rail at some point I’m sure those good memories of Albion Park will come back.”
Smith sets a high bar for his champion and thought he was a little bit off running in the placings a few starts ago, but he’s turned it around and hit his straps at the right time.
“He’d been a little off his best in his last couple of runs, but his form looks fantastic now beaten a length by Sennachie in a match race and running past Good Odds Harada to win the Christmas Gift, he should come up to Queensland with some confidence,” Smith said.
“Against Harada last week he landed second only a couple off him in the run and we know with the way he launches in his second and closing sectional that’s close enough to run down most dogs.”
“He’s absolutely flying on the trial track, I gave him two trials at Dubbo where he broke the track record both times over the 520 and two trials at Bathurst where he broke the track record over the 450 both times.”
Smith concedes his box speed is something he’s stuck with, but his field sense and track and distance record had him primed.
“There’s no excuses he’s spot on at the moment he’s just got to go out there and deliver,” Smith said.
“The best dogs make their own luck and that’s something he’s done since day one, he’s certainly not going to be intimidated by anything around him.”
“We’ve got the routine down pat of driving halfway to Goondiwindi, spending the night and arriving at the track the next day, it’s a track he’s proven at and you can’t say that about all of his rivals.”
A self-described country bloke from Forbes in rural New South Wales, Smith had always been successful with his dogs but had no idea the buzz Feral Franky would cause.
“Before the dog came along, we’d had a little bit to do with the media, but things have just exploded since he’s been on the scene,” he said.
“I’m not the most talkative bloke but people love the dog and I’m just trying to embrace the attention and try to stop and smell the roses sometimes.”
“If I had to pick one dog to have in the trenches with me it’s him, he’s far from perfect but he’s going to give you his all.”
At two and a half years old the dog has won over $400,000 in prize money, but it hasn’t changed Smith’s dry sense of humour.
“My wife and daughters seem to want to invest the prize money in them rather than the property,” he laughed
“The money is nice, but it hasn’t changed anything we just love where we live here and getting in the car and driving is all a part of it.”