Million Dollar Chase Begins
The TAB million Dollar Chase began with fireworks on Saturday night in Gunnedah, both on and off the track.
Off the track it was country music superstar Travis Collins who entertained one of the largest crowds ever seen at the track, with a concert after the last.
On the track it was another superstar - the four-legged variety in the shape of Feral Franky - who stunned trackgoers with a brilliant performance.
While Travis Collins no doubt attracted a crowd, most were there to see The Feral and he didn’t disappoint, missing the track record by just 0.01s in his 12 ¾ length victory.
Feral Franky will return next Sunday for the final of the Gunnedah event, and it would be a brave man or woman to bet against him as he looks to be one of the first to advance to the October 11 semi-finals of the rich series.
Watch Feral Franky’s amazing win at Gunnedah head here
Bathurst, Gosford, Dapto and Casino next on the list
The TAB Million Dollar Chase is now up and running and on Monday night Bathurst will host two heats of the event, with the Frank Hurst-trained Good Odds Harada - runner-up in the recent National Sprint Championship final in Perth - and last year’s Million Dollar Chase third placegetter Sky Wave, two of the standouts.
On Tuesday night Gosford will host the event for the first time, and has two quality heats as well, with last year’s runner-up in the grand final, Jamellla Jet, like to be the focus of many.
Dapto, like Gosford, is making its Million Dollar Chase debut in 2019, and has drawn three heats of the event, with the likes of Cawborne Marty, Good Odds Buddy and has brilliant youngster Lightning Vision, engaged.
Casino too will make its TAB Million Dollar Chase debut on Friday, before Bathurst holds the first regional final of 2019 on Saturday.
Watch Jamella Jet and Sky Wave in last year’s Million Dollar Chase final here
Black Top win for Mackay
Local trainer Jason Mackay collected another Group race victory and his third Group 2 Black Top success when the speedy Aston Duke put up a tenacious performance to take out the event at Ladbrokes Gardens on Friday night.
On a rain drenched night, Aston Duke, the favourite for the $40,000 to the winner feature, held the front around the first turn from his box one draw, but after leaving the rail up the back, outsider Eye Rock railed through and took over.
But Mackay’s sprinter - already a Group 2 winner having won the Maitland Gold Cup last year - showed great tenacity to battle back and retake the lead coming out of the back, then hold off the late finish of Good Odds Buddy to collect the win.
Aston Duke clocked a handy 29.65s in the wet conditions and had ¾ length to spare over Good Odds Buddy, with Eye Rock a gallant third, just a half head away.
“This is my local track, and they are always special, but so are winning fifth grades and maiden, but when there is a bit of money involved you want to try and win them,” Mackay said.
“I think they had just on 50 mils of rain yesterday they had to have 100 mils today, and that is absolute crazy the rain.
“When I pulled up today, I spoke to my daughter and Milo my handler, and said they won’t be racing. It was torrential.
“Mick Horne, the curator here who does the track … what a fantastic job he has done. He’s the best curator in Australia if not the world on what I have seen here tonight. Just sensational.”
Watch Aston Duke’s Black Top win here
Dapto Maiden Final
Newcastle wasn’t the only venue hit by a deluge late in the week and as a result of torrential rain on the NSW South Coast, Dapto had to be called off midway through their meeting last Thursday.
As a result the $10,000 to the winner maiden will now be run on Thursday night adding to the bulging racecard which also features three heats of the TAB Million Dollar Chase.
The box draw for the final stays the same.
Watch Dapto Maiden favourite Bobby The Brute win his heat here
Digger a little Master
While his now more famous kennelmate was lighting up the Gunnedah track, Little Digger was opening his account in Masters’ racing at Wentworth Park.
The Jack Smith-trained greyhound was having his first start since falling when making his Masters’ debut two weeks earlier, but on Saturday he stayed upright and charged away for an impressive win.
While Smith is hopeful Feral Franky can be in the big event on October 18, he is also hopeful of having Little Digger racing for $100,000 in the masters Meteor final on the same night.
Watch Little Digger win his Masters event here