By Isaac Murphy
The TAB Origin Greyhound Series is only one week away, and true blue New South Welshman Ray Smith has wasted no time preparing his team for war.
Sprinter Irinka Lizzy and stayer Little Digger are set for Albion Park debuts on Thursday night where star two-year-old Feral Franky will also trial before the first.
Smith narrowly missed selection last year with Little Digger named a reserve but was champing at the bit to see Feral Franky and Little Digger don the blue jersey this year.
“Just missing out last year made me want to be a part of it even more," he said.
While Little Digger and Irinka Lizzy will be hitting the track under racing conditions tomorrow night, Smith admits the pair may play second fiddle to his young star Feral Franky, who will trial before race one tomorrow night.
“In fairness to the other two Feral Franky is the star, he’s a dog with a very big motor and if he gets going early and is sitting just behind them they’ll be in trouble,” Smith said.
“At just over two-years-old he already has the Group Three New Sensation to his name and a second in the Group Three Speed Star, he’s won over $120,000 and he’s just getting started.
“I would give him a real chance in the sprinters race and seeing he’s not having a run this week I made sure I booked him in for a trial Thursday night to have him firing to take down the Queenslanders next week.”
Little Digger narrowly missed out on a sprinting spot last year, but the soon to be four-year-old has warped into a top-class stayer who Smith says will be tough to roll in the Free for All 710 metres Thursday night.
“Little Digger started out as a very good 520 metre sprint dog and on his night can still run a cheeky race over the distance, but as time goes on he’s been more and more suited to the staying trip,” Smith said.
“He’s got a bit of class about him, he’s been consistent as anything with over $140,000 in prize money and has just run second in the Group One Association Cup at almost four-years of age.”
“I like his chances this week, he’s come up with the red and one of his advantages as a stayer is to be on speed, I expect him to give them a really good sight, but you probably won’t see the best of him till next week.”
Irinka Lizzy is expected to miss out on an Origin birth, but Smith said the Golden Easter Egg Finalist could still do some damage starting from the red in Thursday night’s Best 8.
“She’s a top-class bitch, her results probably don’t get her a spot in the Origin team but she’s a good traveller and can hopefully win some races while she’s us here,” Smith said.
“There are a lot of unknowns for her this week, she’s never had the one box before, never raced against Queensland dogs and never seen the track, in saying all that she never runs a bad race and will be competitive wherever I place her.
“That’s shone through in her results, she hasn’t been able to crack a feature or Group race yet, but she’s been in the Young Star, Vic Peters’ and most recently the Golden Easter Egg Final, so she’s around the mark.”
Smith said the series was a winner for all involved, with strong fields and good prize money which the Forbes trainer was looking forward to snapping up.
“I love the concept Racing Queensland have done a great job attracting dogs with some really nice prize money, but don’t think that means we’re going to take it easy on them, we’re coming for blood this year,” Smith said.