DESPITE being an outsider of the field, Samantha Ferguson is hoping her consistent sprinter Tiggerlong Cruz can make an impact in Friday night’s Group 2 Ballarat Cup (450m).
The daughter of Spring Gun and Tiggerlong Petal is rated a $17 shot with Crownbet and will jump from box five in the $77,000 event against a high-calibre field that includes five-time group-winner Zambora Brockie (box two).
Making the final of the Ballarat Cup is a career highlight for 26-year-old Ferguson who has only been training greyhounds for 17 months.
“It’s very exciting, but it’s nerve-wracking at the same time,” Ferguson told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“This is the biggest final I have been in – I had a couple in the Wagga Cup and the Australian Cup heats, so I am kind of getting used to it, but it’s still very intimidating.
“I judged at Geelong for 11 years and being up in that box I have known I wanted to train dogs for a long time.
“All my family have trained dogs so I have always been around them.
“I thought I would have a go and see what happens and I really enjoy it and the dogs seem to enjoy what we do with them.”
Training at Avalon with her partner Corey Grenfell, Ferguson said she was taken aback by Tiggerlong Cruz’s sensational 25.16 heat win last week, but says she knew she was capable of putting the time on the board.
“She surprised me when she won her heat – she was up against dogs like Barton Bale who was in the Melbourne Cup – but I thought that if she could jump and hold them out she would be in with a chance because she is very competitive.
“I knew she had the ability to run those times, but in heats and finals such as this you are up against the best dogs so you can never tell what’s going to happen.”
The win took the black bitch’s career record to 12 wins and nine minors from 31 starts, making it seven from 13 since joining Ferguson’s kennel in August.
“We met her owners Michael and Helen when we were racing at Wagga with Batty and Indi Allen in the Wagga Cup.
“They rang us up one day after that and asked us if we would like to have a go with her – we really appreciate the opportunity.”
Moving into the final, Ferguson says she is happy with Tiggerlong Cruz and gives her a winning chance despite the horrid box draw.
“I am very happy with her going into the final. Box five isn’t ideal but I am happy with how the rest of the field is drawn around her so you never know what will happen.
“If she jumps and doesn’t get touched early I think she will go close – I know there are a lot of good dogs in there but she is very competitive.
“You have got to be running first or second in races such as this because it is all over and done with in 450m.
“If she comes out like she did last week she should be able to hold them out early, but she will have to pinch a break because the others will by flying home in the last 10 to 20m.”
Ferguson struggled to put in to words what a win in the feature would mean to her and Corey, but admits it would be a massive thrill.
“It would be amazing – it would be our first group win.
“She is the perfect dog – she does everything right – we love her.”
The Group 2 Ballarat Cup is race eight this Friday night and is set to jump at 9:28pm.
Group 2 Ballarat Cup – market
1 – Judicial Man $4.80
2 – Zambora Brockie $2.15
3 – Zinzan Brooke $5
4 – Black Mumbo $15
5 – Tiggerlong Cruz $17 with Crownbet
6 – American Monster $13
7 – Weekend Binge $5.50
8 – Diego Bale $21