As a 14-year-old school boy in Geelong David Geall hunched over a radio listening to Paul Ambrosoli's vivid description of Steelflex winning the 1974 National Derby at Wentworth Park.

That broadcast resonated so much with Geall that he became almost obsessed with training the winner of the group 1 classic, a dream that could be fulfilled by the Queensland-owned Rio Brave on Saturday night.

Geall will be hoping the 2019 final will be "third time lucky", explaining: "My first Derby starter was Bo Frazier, who won his heat in 2008 but who was unplaced in a semi-final so did not qualify for the big one.

"Last year I had high hopes for My Redeemer, but after he won in a quick 29.96sec at Wentworth Park he got hurt and had to be pulled out of the Derby series.

"Box two is close to ideal for Rio Brave on Saturday night because he was checked from his unsuitable box seven draw when he finished second in his heat in 29.98 last Friday.

"Not only is Rio Brave positioned far better in the final, but he will definitely strip a lot fitter.

"When I trialled him at Wentworth Park on January 12 he clocked 29.61, sensational time for a young greyhound having his first look at the track.

"But during that trial Rio Brave tore the pad off one of his feet and could not be worked properly leading up to last week's Derby heat.

"I have an enormous opinion of Rio Brave and I am confident that with a clear run on a good track he is capable of getting down to 29.45 around Wenty.''

Geall, who trained recently retired champion Up Hill Jill, winner of over $882,000 including the 2018 Golden Easter Egg (pictured), along with 2018 Melbourne Cup victor My Redeemer, was a "jack of all trades'' employee at his local Geelong dog track as a teenager.

"I worked in the kennels, in the catching pen, and even officiated as starter there,'' he recalled.

"In the late 1970s I began travelling to Sydney with my boss at Geelong, Horrie Capon, when he took dogs to race at Harold Park and Wentworth Parks.

"But I quit greyhound racing to concentrate on playing cricket and Aussie Rules from 1985 to 1995 before getting back into the sport and taking up training, going full-time for the past 12 years.''

Hardest for Rio Brave to beat on Saturday looks to be fastest qualifier Fernando Blaster, who has the prized rails draw and won his heat by 15 lengths, covering the 520m in a blistering 29.61sec.

Fernando Blaster is trained at the tiny NSW Northern Rivers outpost of Ettrick - population 134 - by 65-year-old Terry Jordan, who quit being a bus driver to become a greyhound trainer in 2005.

Despite its size Ettrick has long been a greyhound racing stronghold, and if Fernando Blaster takes out Saturday night's Derby he won't be the first group one winner to hail from the town.

Silent Ring, who won the 1969 group 1 Bi-Annual Classic (now known as the Peter Mosman Classic) at Harold Park, was bred and owned in Ettrick by dairy farmer Ernie Boyd.

"Ernie Boyd's property was only two kilometres from where I live,'' Terry Jordan said.

"I guess I was a bit surprised at Fernando Blaster clocking 29.61 in his heat, although he has always been able to run quick times wherever he goes.''