RICKY Leonard, two mates and their dads, decided a few years ago to get into greyhound racing.
They bought a couple of Black Magic Opal-Kirabilli Abbie by Vapour Whirl dogs from breeder Andrea Gurry. One they gave the kennel name of Frank, the other Dan.
The pups were reared and as saplings were sent to Matt and Kevin Wright at Allansford. The Wrights started working them up their straight grabbing the drag lure to get them keen.
Frank and Dan had always got along fine until one morning a scuffle over the drag lure got more than a bit serious. Dan tore into Frank and the result was a "decent sized hole" in Frank's neck.
A stint at the local vet clinic for quite a few stitches followed before Frank headed back to the Wright kennels. As Ricky explains it, Dan almost ripped out Frank's throat.
The problems didn't end there.
A few days later, Frank developed a pretty severe infection. He was rushed by Kevin Wright back to the vet. He could not get in touch with son Matt, Ricky, or one of the other owners with the bad news.
Frank needed an immediate operation to insert a drain into the wound and fix other issues that had developed with the infection.
The operation was going to be "pretty expensive".
Kevin was stressed about making the decision on behalf of Ricky and his syndicate partners to have the operation on Frank.
Kevin tried and tried to contact the owners but without luck. He decided to give the operation the go ahead and he would cop the cost of it himself.
Ricky explains there would never have been any problem. Frank's health and getting him right again was the utmost in their minds.
It put the dog back some months and consequently his education by Dustin Drew and Peter Byrnes at Koroit was delayed.
Ricky and his mates named the dog Lightning Frank.
His race debut might have been delayed but Lightning Frank burst onto the scene with heat and final victories in a Vic Breeders. Since then he has become the boom young dog racing in Victoria.
Wins in the Group 1 Silver Chief, Temlee, a second in the Group 2 Great Chase, third in the Group 1 National Derby and of course his appearance in Saturday night's Group 1 Australian Cup after a sensational heat win, have thrust him into an entirely different standing.
Now Ricky and his syndicate are looking at a stud career for their dog.
But first there is a race career to finish and as Lightning Frank will not be three until September, what a career his connections can look forward to.
And what a pedigree he boasts.
Lightning Frank is intensely in-bred 4x4 to the sisters Most Welcome and Thai Magic (Grove Whisper-Lauren's Desire). He has a double and balance 3x4 to Brett Lee and two crosses 4x5 to Head Honcho.
His mother is by Vapour Whirl-Lilly La Plonk and both sire and dam are bred virtually identically. Vapour Whirl is by a son of Malawi's Prince from a daughter of Big Ginger Boy. Lilly La Plonk is by a son of Black Shiraz (Big Ginger Boy's litter brother) and out of a daughter of Malawi's Prince.
It is also interesting that the Vapour Whirl bitch Spirited Flame, dam of recent Group 3 Vince Curry Mdn (Ipswich) winner Fire To Rain, is also bred on the 3x3 of the litter brothers Big Ginger Boy and Black Shiraz.
When Andrea Gurry put together the pedigree of Lightning Frank, she did a superb job. With her bitch Kirabilli Abbie being so intensely in-bred, she had to mate her to a stud dog that brought in common and dominant ancestors AROUND those already saturated in her own pedigree.
She did this by duplicating and balancing Brett Lee, and linked the litter sisters Most Welcome and Thai Magic (from the famous Genuine Replica family) and positioned them to be able to impact with each other.
It was sheer genius.
And it produced a superstar.
When he does go to stud, Lightning Frank will again have LOTS of options for him to succeed. Grove Whisper duplicated on the fifth line in his pedigree, is the only outcross influence in his make-up.
Lightning Frank will be a MUST for bitches bred on an outcross influence.
Paul Wheeler will love him.
He will be a certainly to do well with bitches that bring in more Bombastic Shiraz (the sire of his second dam).
Newcomers to greyhound racing, Ricky and his partners are overwhelmed by their instant success with Lightning Frank.
"The praise on the dog from the industry has been enormous but we admit without the guidance of Matt, he may never have reached the heights that he has," said Ricky.
"Matt has spent countless hours working on his box manners and after many failed attempts at different things actually discovered that Lightning Frank was crossing his legs in the boxes.
"We always laugh at the dog because even in the trailer he sits with his legs crossed.
"Matt is forced to reach in after he loads him and uncross his legs.
"It took Matt months of persistence and time watching replays in slow motion and looking at him intently while loading to figure it all out.
"If the dog was with another trainer, we may never have got to the bottom of his box manners."
Ricky says he and his mates are now in the industry for the long haul and Matt and Kevin Wright will be with them all the way.