While it was the win of Feral Franky in the match-race which secured NSW their first victory in the Origin Greyhound Series, the significance of the ‘unexpected’ victory of Poco Dorado in the Distance event cannot be overstated.
After the disappointment at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, 24 hours later NSW restored some Blue pride by securing the Origin Shield with a 2-1 victory over Queensland. The Blues took the Distance event, the locals won the Sprint, and then with a brilliant performance from Feral Franky, NSW took out the match-race and series.
But it wasn’t expected to go that way. Feral Franky was unbackable to win the match-race, but, with the likes of Zipping Bailey, Mystic Riot, Jamella Jet and Good Odds Harada, NSW was expected to dominate the Sprint, while the locals were strongly tipped to win the Distance race with the two favourites – Double Gee and Bago Bye Bye – both wearing Maroon rugs.
Things don’t always go to plan in sport, and Queenslander Dam Slippery led throughout to win the Sprint. Had the Queensland stayers done what was expected, then the Shield would have stayed in the Sunshine State.
But Poco Dorado chose the perfect time to stand up, lead throughout and confirm her career is anything but on the decline.
After being acclaimed the darling of Wentworth Park and stringing together 11 straight Wentworth Park distance wins, Poco Dorado tore a pad in a heat of the Summer Plate back in January, and hadn’t really been the same since.
She had won just once in 13 starts, which included two unsuccessful campaigns in Melbourne, and there were serious questions being asked.
But back on her home track at Richmond last week, Poco Dorado jumped out led throughout and posted a time just a length outside her best. Minnie Finn, wife of trainer John, thought she was back.
“It gave us a bit more confidence when she went around Richmond the week before,” Minnie said. “She’d been trialling well and going as good as she can go, she just had to get some confidence to get out and go again after that pad injury, and, with a bit of luck, she might be back now. She’s back happy and back to her normal self.”
There were other doubts about Poco Dorado, including that she was a bit of a local wonder. She had raced 12 times interstate before the Origin series, and had won just once, in a heat of the Bold Trease in Melbourne back in November.
“Yeah it was really pleasing winning at Albion Park. She’s finally done it away from home. That’s what we all wanted to see, to see her do it away from home,” Minnie said.
“And the way it worked out … when the sprinters didn’t win I thought: “Oh, lucky we won the distance one now.”
Minnie and her team – which included Veloce Nero who finished second to her sister Poco Dorado at Albion Park – returned home to Cranebrook on Friday, but she’s likely to make the trip north again next week for the heats of the $150,000 Group 1 Gold Cup.
“Yeah we might have to go back next week now. There’s not a lot (of races) down here for Poco at the moment, so we may as well go and have a crack while she’s fit, happy and confident.”