One More Step For Vice Grip To Go Full Circle

NAMBEELUP trainer Adam Smithson believes Vice Grip can give Fernando Star a start at Cannington on Saturday night in The Phoenix qualifier.

David Brasch

3 December 2021

NAMBEELUP trainer Adam Smithson believes Vice Grip can give rival Fernando Star a start and a beating when Greyhounds WA finds its The Phoenix representative at Cannington on Saturday night.

Fernando Star (Fernando Bale-Star Recall), from the powerful Chris Halse kennel, has drawn the rails in the two-dog match race finale against Vice Grip (Aston Dee Bee-Bells Are Ringin) for the right to head to The Meadows on December 18 with a $1.145m purse up for grabs.

“He’s going super,” said Adam of Vice Grip’s form since joining his kennel back in August. “We set him for this race when we found out the qualifications and he has kept building and building towards it.

“Just to get him this far … we are pinching ourselves. Now there is one more step to go.”

Smithson knows only too well Fernando Star has more early pace than Vice Grip but he is confident his dog can put early pressure on the Halse-trained winner of 24 races and $176,000.

“Drawing outside Fernando Star is good,” he said.

“Fernando Star is mad for the rails. And, Vice Grip likes to take a step right out of the boxes. But, then he will go straight.

“It was a long shot to begin with when we first decided to aim to go to Melbourne for The Phoenix. It’s a pleasure just to be down to the final two with a chance to make such a race.”

Smithson said if Vice Grip begins like he did last week he would quickly be up alongside Fernando Star putting pressure on his rival.

Vice Grip has won six of 11 starts since joining Smithson’s kennel in WA.

“We pinched the All Stars a few runs back which was great,” he said. “The dog pulled up well after his latest run.

“The owners all live in Victoria so they will be beside themselves if he makes it to The Phoenix.”

Smithson said, because of Covid, he would be unlikely to go with the dog if it all worked out on Saturday night at Cannington.

“We are not making any plans about all that until we see what happens on Saturday night,” he said. “Obviously he would be flown over next week, then trial at The Meadows on the Monday before The Phoenix.

“But, the dog started his career in Victoria and he’s been to The Meadows  plenty of times.”

Vice Grip with a 29.57 best, which he ran at Cannington last Saturday night, has a slight edge on Fernando Star (29.62) going into the WA final.

But Fernando Star did run that time only two starts back.