Wednesday, November 22, 2017
In the 32 years that the Newman McDonnell Memorial has been run at the two Tara Raceway greyhound tracks it’s probably fair to say there wouldn’t have been too many better finals than the one decided last Sunday.
And, it’s also probably fair to say that there haven’t been too many better winners than Lektra Stomp, trained at Toolong by Brian Lenehan but handled by his son Phil.
After an impressive heat win from box one the previous week in a quick 29.95 seconds, the drawing of box one again in the final had the white and black dog looking well placed to give Lenehan another feature race win.
However, well before the race was run, there was drama at Sunday morning’s kennelling when Signal Peak – second to Lektra Stomp in a previous week’s heat and expected to find plenty on his first look at the track – was a late scratching due to non-arrival.
With a best time of 29.67 seconds for the 512 metre journey, Lektra Stomp was going into the final as one of the fastest dogs to have gone around Tara Raceway this year. Throw in box one, together with a vacant box now next to him, and his $1.70 quote wasn’t all that surprising.
But the race still had to be won.
A couple of the sport’s younger brigade of trainers in Trent Blacker of Ballarat and Peter Fulton of Ecklin South hadn’t drawn as well with Greenback Boogie and Noosa Parade although both had been impressive heat winners – Noosa Parade actually running the fastest of the three heats and Greenback Boogie likely to improve at his second look at the track.
So, when Greenback Boogie charged out from box five and shared the lead with Glenville Phil going around the first turn it looked like it was going to be game on.
“I really thought Lektra Stomp would lead around the first turn but after he had been a little slow out and was sitting in third spot on the rails I started to have a few reservations,” said Lenehan after the race.
Down the back straight, though, the rails run came and from then on he could relax as Lektra Stomp powered away to an eventual six length win in a race record 29.69 seconds over Cryer’s Bob – his best run for a while – and Greenback Boogie who battled on well to hold down third spot.
This was the first McDonnell Memorial win for the Lenehan family with Phil Lenehan thanking members of the McDonnell family – Margaret Considine and Les McDonnell – for their continued support of the time-honoured race.
“When it comes to greyhound racing we certainly shouldn’t take for granted what we have today,” he said. “It was people such as Newman McDonnell who pioneered the sport in this region and I’m sure he’d be very proud at the progress that has been made since the early days of racing at Glenburnie.
“I’d also like to thank Mrs Considine and Mr McDonnell for their continued interest and support of the race and for the lovely trophy they have donated.”
By Walk Hard out of Lektra Angie, Lektra Stomp is from a line that just keeps on keeping on – all the Lektra-named dogs tracing back to Brian Lenehan’s Hall of Fame brood bitch Sydney Gem.
Whelped in March 1978, Sydney Gem would later produce five litters – to Chief Dingaan (two), World Acclaim, Tangaloa and Tangairn.
Lektra Angie goes back to Hoppy’s Girl, from the Tangairn x Sydney Gem litter, while at Sandown Park last Friday night Rockoon was a brilliant Bold Trease heat winner.
The connection here is that Rockoon, a son of Peter Rocket and Raya Riot, traces back to Emma’s Gem, a litter sister to Hoppy’s Girl.
Phil Lenehan is undecided as to Lektra Stomp’s immediate plans although with the dog’s good record at Tara Raceway behind the finish-on-lure the $22,000 Listed Mount Gambier Cup (512 m) to be run in March wouldn’t have escaped his notice.
It’s been 25 years since the Lenehan family won a Mount Gambier Cup, Immortal Flash – by Shining Chariot x Sydney Dingaan, and a grandson of Sydney Gem – successful for Brian at Glenburnie in 1993.
From the archives this week comes a Warrnambool Plumpton Coursing Club programme for a “speed coursing meeting run under electric lights on the club’s ground at the rear of Botanical Gardens on Saturday, December 26, 1936”.
Even back then, the Lenehan family was racing greyhounds, with Phil’s grandfather Pat lining up with Flash Cliff in the No. 1 Hurdle.
And from the back page of the race book came the warning that any person or persons making loud comment on the judge’s decision would be liable to immediate expulsion from the ground.