Few trainers are going as good at present as Londonderry mentor Frank Hurst. The experienced trainer has his kennel of chasers on fire at the moment, and with only a small team is achieving fantastic results on the racetrack. This success was highlighted on Saturday night at Richmond when Hurst prepared four of the winners on the ten race card, this was quickly followed by a triumphant double on Monday night at Bulli where he also notched up a handy placing. With such a great few days on the track, it is hard to believe, that Hurst only has eight dogs in work at present.
The start of Hurst’s fabulous forty eight hours commenced on Saturday night in race two at Richmond when the smart youngster Rashad scored an emphatic victory in a scintillating 30.47 seconds. Jumping well from the cherry, the cleverly named son of Magic Sprite and Tarmik showed plenty of tenacity, running down early leader Affected Memory to score by an ultra-impressive ten lengths. This win was the black dogs fifth success from only eight starts, whilst it was his third triumph since returning from a three month spell after tearing a hip support when winning at Richmond in January.
The second runner to salute for Hurst on Saturday night was the beautifully bred speedster Paua and Jewels who was having her thirty-third start which resulted in her tenth career win whilst she has a further ten placings to her name. A daughter of Where’s Pedro, the sprinter is out of the great producer Paua To Explode- a half-sister to the champion race bitch Paua To Burn. With greyhound racing royalty coursing through her veins, the 28 kilogram powerhouse used box one to perfection, pinging the lids and making every post a winner, stretching out to win by a neck over the fast finishing Amazon Lizard in a handy 30.95 seconds.
Whilst there was a four race gap between the first two victories, Hurst did not have to wait long to secure a treble with the highly promising pup Zulu Zeus saluting in the next on the card. The son of Where’s Pedro and Fancy Jaffa is all class, and certainly showed that on the night, jumping to the lead from box four and never looking in doubt thereafter, scoring by a mind boggling fourteen and three quarter lengths in a scorching 30.44 seconds.
Hurst was understandably elated with the exciting youngsters victory, “We knew what he could do, he went 30.25(seconds) the week before but you don’t expect them to win by that margin”.
The excitement from the night was emulated in race nine, as Good Odds John made it four from four for team Hurst at Richmond. Also drawing favourably in box one, the grand old campaigner had to do plenty of work to run down race leader Armed Forces but in the end proved too strong claiming the event by half a length in a nippy 22.78 seconds.
Whilst it was not the first time that Hurst has left the track with four winners, Frank said that it was still very exciting, “It’s a big thrill to even get one winner, so to get four is amazing”.
Whilst this night alone would have been brilliant for any trainer, Hurst returned to the Bulli circuit on Monday and scored an impressive double with Zulu Zeus’ littermates Zulu Zircon and Notso Sweet.
All eyes were on Hurst in race three when he put the polish on the sensational young pup Zulu Zircon who along with his brother is owned by Frank Sinotti with the dynamo living up to his ominous $1.70 starting price when blitzing the classy field to score by four and three quarter lengths in a blistering 26.06 seconds. The win was the exhilarating youngsters third from as many starts, with all his previous successes occurring at the Slacky Flat track with Mondays win definitely his most impressive to date. Drawn well in box three, Zulu Zircon made his rivals look like they were standing still, dominating the race and showing field sense beyond his age.
“He beat a very good field on Monday,” Hurst Said, “He had a check at the start but he treated those dogs with contempt”.
The field in question contained Group One National Derby finalist Kelmatt’s Fantasy who finished in second, top flight Victorian FFA campaigner El Caballo who placed third and Owen Makin’s flying chaser Somebody Tifi. With so much depth and experience within this field, the race was certainly his acid test, however the 34 kilogram heavyweight passed with flying colours, and proved as many had already thought, that he is definitely one to watch for the future.
Not to be outdone, litter sister Notso Sweet matched the win of her talented brother in the fourth claiming her maiden success at just her second racetrack appearance. The time of 26.56 seconds, albeit much slower than her brother also revealed the pint sized speedster to have plenty of gusto and potential in her own right.
The electrifying siblings as mentioned are from what is shaping up to be a fantastic litter by Where’s Pedro out of Fancy Jaffa with Hurst also training another bitch from the litter, Sweet Melon who won in 30.80 at Richmond but is currently on the injured list. The litter was bred to be able to run fast with Fancy Jaffa a member of the Collision x Flash Fancy litter which produced the top class sprinters Fancy Ace, Fancy Al, Smooth Fancy (Who won the 2010 Group One National Sprint Championship) and Swift Fancy. Flash Fancy also threw the outstanding Perfect Fancy who went on to make three group finals and the smart New Zealander Fancy Tip who took out the 2013 Group One Auckland Cup. Fancy Jaffa was trained by Frank’s wife Tracey, and whilst she had plenty of ability only had two starts before being retired to the breeding barn. This decision has turned out to be a masterstroke, with the bitch throwing plenty of her illustrious family speed into her progeny.
With the litter going great guns at present, Hurst agrees that whilst the girls have ability the dogs are far better however he does struggle to determine which of the two dogs is going the best at present, “There is not a lot between the two dogs. Zulu Zeus did not show much dash starting off with but now he has managed to put it all together and Zulu Zircon had a cracked hock when we were getting him ready to race so he is about ten weeks behind the other dog (Zulu Zeus) but he will probably be the fastest”.
“These dogs are as good as any dogs we have had on the property at that age”.
With such a terrific week at the races Hurst will return to Richmond this Saturday night to line up both Rashad and Zulu Zeus in race six with both dogs qualifying into the 1-4 wins final from their races last week. Despite both drawing awkwardly for the decider with Rashad in box six and Zulu Zeus in box eight, they look to have the race between them, but even their trainer can’t choose a winner, “They are both nice dogs and try, it’s hard to pick between them, one went 30.44(seconds) last week, the other went 30.47(seconds) so I can’t split them”.
Also returning to the track this week is Paua and Jewels who will line up in a tough field at Wentworth Park on Saturday night which includes Graeme Bate’s flyer Xylia Allen.
As for where he goes after next with the talented crew, Hurst has made plans for each dog.
After this week’s final, Rashad will be aimed at the heats of the $10,000 to the winner Goldmine at Gosford where Hurst is confident that he will have a great chance of making it through to the lucrative final, “He went 29.70(seconds) at Gosford as a puppy and finished second in the big maiden there so we will be happy if he can go like that next week”.
As for the dynamic duo, Zulu Zircon will be trialled at Wentworth Park this week, before returning to Bulli for a crack at The Group Three Ranvet Gold Cup later this month, before both Zulu Zircon and Zulu Zeus will be aimed at the Group One Rapidvite Peter Mossman Classic at Wentworth Park.
With group race glory now within sight for Frank and Tracey Hurst, the husband and wife team are enjoying the thrill of having a kennel full of potential track stars, “It’s a good ride and when you get a few decent dogs it’s very exciting” Frank enthused, “There are a lot of ups and downs; the dogs aren’t machines they are animals and get injured, so when you get the smart dogs going well the good times definitely outweigh the bad times”.
And there look to be plenty of good times ahead!