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NSW Derby 2017: Neil Thompson out for slice of Derby history as a trainer

SALT Ash’s Neil Thompson has been strapper for two NSW Derby winners but will chase his first starter as a trainer when Franco Storm tries to defy the odds again at Menangle on Saturday night.

Franco Storm’s driver David Morris.

Thompson, 76, who was strapper for Bold Biami (1972) and Rip Van Winkle (1977),will start Franco Storm from gate one in heat two of three qualifiers.

A 150-1 shot, Franco Storm will carry Hunter hopes in Derby heats, while Singleton trainer Aaron Goadsby’s Takara Truffle and Ellalong trainer-driver Michael Formosa’s Rocknroll Emma are in two Oaks qualifiers.

Thompson hoped Franco Storm, a $2000 buy which was a $52.50 winner of agroup 2 Breeders Challenge Blue final at Menangle last July, could again surprise.

“We’re throwing him in the deep end, but it’s not often you get the chance to race in the Derby series,” Thompson said. “And I don’t think he’s the worst in it. He’s beaten two in it before and won in 1.53.9 at Menangle last year.”

He hoped driver David Morris could get a trail behind hot favourite Mark Purdon’s Ultimate Machete and steal a spot late in the February 25 group 1 final.

Takara Truffle was a $10 shot for Oaks heat two but she has to beata second-line draw in 11 to make the group 1 final with a top-six finish.

Takara Truffle and trainer Aaron Goadsby.

“Hopefully the one, which has got good gate speed, doesn’t get crossed early and then hand up to the favourite, to put us four back,” Goadsby said.“Then we’re going to need a lot of luck.”

Takara Truffle cruised to a 1.55.5 win at Newcastle last week and Goadsby said she should be “cherry ripe” for the Oaks final if she qualifies.

Rocknroll Emma was a $51 chance from gate seven in Oaks heat one.

Former Keinbah-based training team Shane and Lauren Tritton will carry Hunter hopes in the two group 1 Miracle Mile qualifiers.

Yayas Hot Spot and Salty Robyn will chase top-two finishes to book places in the $750,000 feature.

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