Harness racing trainer Greg Franklin prepares a big team of two. Just two pacers.
And both will start this Saturday night at Albion Park, his first runner Beef City Safari will contest the Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks while his other runner Rakarebel will tackle champion pacer Im Themightyquinn for the second straight week.
The popular figure prepares his pair of pacers at the Redcliffe Paceway, where Franklin is the track manager.
“I’ve only got time for the two horses between my other commitments at the track but I’m lucky to have two handy types. The filly has been a strong improver all season long while Rakarebel keeps proving he’s got a real zest for racing.” Franklin said.
The arrival of Beef City Safari into Franklin’s care came out of the blue following a missed call at Redcliffe on a racenight when Franklin was driving the water cart.
Bernie and Carmel Clifton from Rockhampton left a message for Franklin and after making the return phone call, the filly was on her way to his stables.
With four wins and nine placings from 21 career starts, Beef City Safari aims up for her shot at Group 1 glory when she locks horns with some of the best fillies in the country this weekend.
“I’ve always liked this filly and I think she’s a good little stayer, she enjoys the races when the speed is on and I’m sure these fillies will be running from the start this weekend. Obviously Nike Franco is very talented but we’ll give it our best shot.
“She’s trained on really well since her last and keeping her fresh in between runs has agreed with her. It was a very good effort in the Triad Final while her effort in the Gold Coast Oaks was also very strong.
“We’re drawn directly alongside Nike Franco and I think Mathew (Neilson – driver) will give her a good run from there. I think she will perform well again and then we will look at the Redcliffe Oaks with her in a couple of weeks.”
While Beef City Safari faces a big challenge getting over the top of Nike Franco, spare a thought for Rakarebel.
The well-travelled veteran was a former stablemate of Im Themightyquinn when previously prepared by Gary Hall before popping in and out of many stables since those glory days in Perth where he strung together eight straight victories at Gloucester Park.
Last week, Rakarebel ran a cracking fourth in the Sunshine Sprint behind Im Themightyquinn in track record time after starting from a shocking second-line draw.
“Everybody keeps telling me he’s past it but his form suggests otherwise, I know he still hasn’t won for me yet but his last couple of starts have been great in super time.
“If he puts in another forward showing on Saturday night, he’ll back-up in the Blacks A Fake before we head to the Redcliffe Cup. He’s healthy and happy so we’ll keep chipping away with him."
by Chris Barsby
Queensland Harness Racing