LIGHTNING Frank looks the greyhound to beat in next Saturday’s Group 1 National Derby (520m) after a sublime win in his heat of the feature at Wentworth Park on the weekend.
The Victorian chaser started from box three in the second heat of the night, exploding from the traps to go straight to the early lead.
Despite the best efforts of his rivals, the Matt Wright-trained dog was in a race of his own, carving out sensational sectionals to hit the line four-and-three-quarter lengths clear of fellow Victorian Duty Free (box one) in 29.96.
The win made it four in succession for the son of Black Magic Opal and Kirabilli Abbie which came into the Derby series following his dominant win in the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic (525m) at The Meadows on January 8.
While he will have to overcome a tricky draw in the final after coming up with box four, Lightning Frank has already opened up as the $3 favourite with Bet365.
Duty Free will also progress through to the final for Angela Langton who won the fourth heat of the night with Hit The Highway.
Jumping from box one, the black dog was only fairly into stride but was able to hold his spot on the fence around the first turn as Mark Gatt’s Chaser (box seven) strolled forward to take the early lead.
Moving into second down the back, Hit The Highway was able to stalk the lamplighter approaching the home turn, bursting through in the shadows of the post to register his 10th career victory in 29.99.
Flashing home to grab second was Dyna Boomer for Andrea Dailly, with Chaser narrowly missing out on a start in the final when tiring to finish third.
Time honours in the Derby series went to Nangar Rock for Dennis Barnes which caused an upset in the final heat at double figure odds.
The 34.8-kilogram powerhouse was well into stride from box four and gave nothing else a look-in throughout the event, defeating Ray Smith’s Big Daddy Bee (box five) by two-and-a-half lengths.
Barnes narrowly missed out on a heat double, with Nangar Bear going down by just half a length to Good Odds Bricky in the third qualifier.
Trained by Frank Hurst, Good Odds Bricky began poorly from box six and was back at the tail of the field early after finding bother.
Despite the interference, Good Odds Bricky never stopped chasing, weaving his way through the pack before securing a run along the fence in the home straight, claiming the lead to score in 30.38.
The remaining heat was won by Gosford Cup finalist Black Hole Sun (box four) which produced a herculean effort from back in the pack to record a 30.57 victory.
A regally-bred son of Cosmic Rumble and Chasing Diana, the triumph was his seventh at start 17, with his career earnings set to be lifted above $100,000 if he is successful in next weekend’s decider.
The Group 1 National Derby will be run at Wentworth Park next Saturday night.
Group 1 National Derby – box draw and market
1 – Big Daddy Bee $10
2 – Duty Free $10
3 – Hit The Highway $4.60
4 – Lightning Frank $3 with Bet365
5 – Nangar Rock $5
6 – Good Odds Bricky $21
7 – Black Hole Sun $4.60
8 – Dyna Boomer $10
1st Res – Nangar Bear $8
2nd Res – Agent Kade $51