Tuesday, December 24, 2019
David Peckham, of Allendale East, went into last Sunday’s Christmas meeting with 120 winners and the 2019 Ian Badger Leading Trainer award well and truly stitched up.
But for all the success that has come his way this year nothing would have matched that of win number 121 when Squishy Pea led all the way from box four to defeat Smart Knocka by two lengths in the Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup final (512 metres) in a race record 29.63 seconds.
For Peckham, this was his third Christmas Cup success, Napoleon Wiz winning the inaugural event in 2011 and Bourne Again in 2013.
This win was something special, though, the owners being the Ross Schurgott-managed Nineofus Syndicate, an 11-member group, many of them with a long-time kennel involvement through the Viking Syndicate.
And Peckham, also one of the syndicate members, was quick to group together the spoils of victory – Christmas Cup rug, trophy and Bakers Delight Christmas pack – and forward a photograph to a delighted Happy Valley-based Schurgott.
By Fernando Bale, Squishy Pea is out of Secret Spell, a winner of 23 races and $276,000 in stakemoney, the 3½-year-old giveaway black dog finding his way down to Peckham’s kennels at the end of August.
Since then he has won six races at Tara Raceway and now may well gain a start, if nominated, in the forthcoming Tara Trackstar No. 2 (512 m), a one-off race for the best performed greyhounds at Tara Raceway between July and December.
The inaugural Tara Trackstar, run mid-year, was won by Flash Jackie, who is raced in the same interests as Squishy Pea.
COMPTON trainer Tracie Price ran the quinella with Elle Limes and Tandiki in the inaugural Peter Whitehead Memorial Maiden (400 m).
And that was probably fitting given that “Spider” Whitehead and Price had enjoyed a close relationship, “Spider” at one stage actually standing in for Price as his acting trainer.
Bred by Price, Elle Limes is a daughter of Spring Gun and Grimsby Girl, the brindle bitch purchased as a pup and raced by local owner Bernie Bouchier jnr, the fourth generation of the family to be involved in greyhound racing.
She had the race won a long way from home when quickly away from box seven and opening up a big break, but Tandiki, after once again running very wide in the home straight, looks a coming winner after making up plenty of ground in a race won in a quick 23.18 seconds.
MC for the day, Kevin “KD” Douglas, who in another era clashed with Whitehead in local footy matches, related at the presentation a story he had heard in relation to how the name “Spider” came about.
“With one of his specialities on the football field being his ability to climb up opposing players’ backs in quest of the big grab it’s been suggested that was how the name originated.
“I don’t know whether that is correct or not but I can vouch for the fact that he was well versed in climbing up your back. I still have the scars to prove it!”
It is two years since Peter Whitehead passed away, his family now keen to run an annual race in his memory. The Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club was happy to oblige and most appreciative of the support that was forthcoming.
THROWING up the biggest upset of the day was Close Your Eyes in the Christmas Challenge (600 m), the blue bitch looking, for the better part of the journey, likely to run second behind tearaway leader Dyna Carnie before finishing over the top of the $1.20 favourite to score by 1¼ lengths in 35.51 seconds.
A $16 chance, Close Your Eyes, a daughter of Taylors Sky and smart 12-race winner Lady Jasmin, is raced by well-known Adelaide owner Barry Stewart and trained at Portland by Nicole Stanley who said that she would have been happy with a placing in view of Dyna Carnie’s recent form.
“She hadn’t previously won over the middle-distance so it was very pleasing to see her keep coming after losing the lead early.”
Close Your Eyes will now line up from box six in the second of two heats over 650 metres at Warrnambool on Saturday night.
However, there were no upsets in the Santa Sprint (400 m), Cryer’s Harper continuing her outstanding form for Tom and Margaret Cryer of Apsley when making it 10 wins from her past 12 starts – and going back-to-back in the Santa Sprint with an all the way defeat of Usain Insane and Kentucky Sun in 23.22 seconds.