LIGHTNING Frank will go into this Saturday’s Group 1 Australian Cup (525m) heats as one of the leading series contenders following a sensational display in last weekend’s Group 1 Temlee at The Meadows.
The black dog was sent to the traps as an $8 shot, but when the lids flew open it was a one-act affair as Lightning Frank exploded from box seven, leading all the way in a sublime 29.67.
Trained by Mathew Wright (pictured), Lightning Frank has now won 15 of his 25 starts, with his other major victory being in the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic last month.
Ricky Leonard, who owns Lightning Frank with a syndicate of mates, said they went into the race hopeful, but not expecting to win.
“We have always known he had enormous potential, but it was probably the least confident we had been going into a race because there was so much speed on the inside and he is normally a bit slower out,” Leonard told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“With that being said we were hopeful that he would get a cart into the race, but that was the best he had jumped and when he hit the front we didn’t think anything could catch him.
“His middle sectionals have always been ridiculously good and he is a very strong dog, but he had a few issues with his box manners early.
“Matt and his father Kevin tried so many things to get him right and all the praise needs to go to those guys for all of their hard work.”
A son of Black Magic Opal and Kirabilli Abbie, Lightning Frank has been a life-changing greyhound for his owners, with earnings now notching $277,000.
Leonard said it has been a thrilling experience since picking out Lightning Frank as a pup.
“There is four of us boys who work together out at a gas plant and one of the guys had greyhounds before and suggested that we form a syndicate,” he said.
“It was more for a social thing to do – we have all got young families – and there are two fathers and sons in the syndicate and myself involved in the dog.
“He is our fourth dog and all of the others have won races so we’ve been pretty lucky, but by far he is the best we have had.
“The dog was bred locally and we knew Dustin Drew, who trained the mother – he had a bit of an opinion of her and thought she was a quick enough dog to breed from.
“At the time Black Magic Opal hadn’t been at stud for very long, but we were pretty keen to get one of his first pups.
“Frank picked that litter out to buy a pup from and we called the breeder and she had two pups left for sale so we went and bought both and one of them turned out to be him.”
Whilst it has been a relatively short involvement in the sport for the ‘Hashtag’ syndicate – made up of Leonard, Brad and Rex Miller and Frank and Dan Madden, Leonard says the deeds of Lightning Frank have got him hooked on the sport for life.
“It is amazing from multiple fronts. Of course the prize money and everything that comes along with winning a group 1 is nice, but for me the story behind the greyhound is the best part of it.
“There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the industry over the past few years, but this is a good story about a bunch of blokes getting involved as owners and a hobby trainer who really cares for his dogs.
“We take the kids out and they love the dogs, it’s just a big family affair – it was really exciting having everyone at the track the other night, going out for dinner and having a good night.
“We have definitely developed some lasting friendships because of the industry.
“We will be in the greyhound industry forever now because of this dog.”
Heats of the Group 1 Australian Cup will be run this Saturday night, with the final set to be held on March 4 an boasting a $250,000 winner’s cheque.