By James Broadhurst
There’s extra meaning to Incredible Hero’s bid for a spot in next week’s WA Derby (520m) final for Harvey-based trainer Fran Farrell and her husband Ben.
The strong running chaser will contest a heat of the Group 2 feature at Cannington on Saturday night.
Farrell believes her greyhound is capable of winning but admits it’s a “tough ask” in a very competitive heat.
There are only six runners in the field but there is plenty of talent across the grid with the likes of Premium Share, Hastie Guess and Mandurah Derby winner It’s A Storm.
“He’s got his work cut out for him. Every dog in the field is really good,” Farrell said of Incredible Hero’s prospects.
In his favour Incredible Hero, with eight wins from 28 starts under his belt, has a big edge in experience over all of his rivals except Laptop Guru (31 starts).
Although he’s still in the early stages of his career Incredible Hero has already become very special to the Farrells.
Fran purchased the greyhound, along with his litter-sister Incredible Dream (winner of three races), as birthday present to herself and he quickly established him as a kennel favourite due to his keen attitude.
In his very first appearance on the racetrack Incredible Hero provided Farrell with a major training highlight.
Despite having numerous handy greyhounds with the ‘Incredible’ prefix over the past couple of decades Farrell had never claimed a city grade victory until Incredible Hero blitzed his maiden by nearly ten lengths last September.
“It only took me twenty-odd years to get a city graded winner but to do it in that style was pretty wonderful,” she enthused.
More importantly, working and achieving success with Incredible Hero has provided a joyful respite for the Farrells during a particularly rough period.
For the past year Ben has been battling Amyloidosis, an illness which requires regular chemotherapy treatment.
Every week the Farrells make the more-than-two-hour journey up from Harvey to Charlie Gardner Hospital in Nedlands for treatment.
“It’s been hard road for the past 12 months so what Incredible Hero has done has really given us a boost,” Farrell said.
“Our main hope is for him and all the other dogs to go around safely (on Saturday night) but if we do get into the final with him that would be really special.”
Incredible Hero’s path to the WA Derby series has been slightly unusual.
After flashing home late to run third in the Mandurah Derby two weeks ago he travelled up to the city last weekend to compete over 600m.
Farrell gave him a hit-out over the stayer’s journey as a strategy to re-build his confidence out of the boxes in race where the early speed wasn’t going to be as hot as in a sprint event.
Incredible Hero executed the plan to perfection when he led-all-the way to score by nine and half lengths in the very slick time of 34.66.
“He runs on well so we knew the extra distance wasn’t going to be a problem,” Farrell said.
“Basically, the idea was to get him on the lure.
“He can be a good beginner on his night but he’s been pretty inconsistent and often he’s coming out behind them and having to find his way through a field.
“We’re hoping that run was what he needed to be more reliable out the boxes.”
As Incredible Hero continues to mature as a racedog Farrell is looking forward to an exciting future with him on the track.
“It’s probably taken until now to get his racing brain, so to speak, and he’s made his own bad luck at times but you can’t fault his attitude,” she said.
“His desire to race is unquestioned.
“At home you practically have to drag him off the straight track, if you don’t, he’ll just keep going!
“He loves running, he loves being at the track, he loves everything about it.
“There’s only one thing on his mind and that’s chasing.”