Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club

Tara Raceway, Lake Terrace East, Mount Gambier, SA

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Calcutta auction to kick off Mount Gambier Cup carnival

Steve Bartholomew, a long-time Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club president and life member, still has fond memories of the club’s first Mount Gambier Cup Calcutta auction.

“That was back in 1981, a time when the Calcutta used to be conducted in a woolshed on Jubilee Highway. And from memory, Tara Topar, who won the inaugural cup out at Glenburnie, was purchased for $100,” he said.

Bartholomew actually handled Tara Topar – a son of Luska Dubh and Front Rank – in the cup final for his mother-in-law Joan Cruise and Newman McDonnell.

Ian Badger (left), Newman McDonnell and Steve Bartholomew with inaugural Mount Gambier Cup winner Tara Topar.

But it would be a further 38 years before Bartholomew handled his own winner – the Worrolong-based trainer successful with the Robert Chuck owned Galactic Athena who was a sensational winner of the 2019 Mount Gambier Cup.

In another time the cup was staged over the Adelaide Cup long weekend in May. Heats were run on the Saturday with the final on Monday afternoon.

And with the final draw and the Calcutta conducted at a dinner on the Saturday night it worked pretty well. Later, when the Adelaide Cup holiday switched to March, the heats and final of the greyhound cup were run over consecutive weekends.

The Mount Gambier Cup has been run continuously since 1981. In 2018, the cup was granted Listed status and in 2022, following a concerted effort by the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club, the event assumed Group 3 status.

In a bid to entice owners and trainers to also support the Mount Gambier Cup, Greyhound Racing SA (GRSA) had linked incentive-based bonuses when the first Murray Bridge Cup was run in 2019.

The bonuses include $5000 if the same greyhound can win both cups. In addition, there is a $5000 bonus if the same trainer is able to win both cups (SA or interstate or different dogs).

GRSA is yet to make a bonus payout although Victorian trainer Andrew Paraskevas went into the 2019 final with Pure White Evil in line for a bonus after his litter brother and kennelmate Eye Got It had won the Murray Bridge Cup.

And 2022 Murray Bridge Cup winner Weblec Angel went even closer when going down by a head a few weeks later to Departure Gate at Mount Gambier.

In 2020 and 2021, due to Covid, there was no Calcutta. Then, in 2022, the local greyhound and harness racing clubs – whose cups that year coincided – got together to run a joint Calcutta at the Commercial Hotel. It worked pretty well, although it’s rare that the two cups coincide.

For the first time since 2019, the Calcutta auction was back at Tara Raceway last year with Kevin “KD” Douglas the MC on the night and Chris Manser of Green Triangle Real Estate auctioning the greyhounds.

Seven greyhounds were in last year’s “top” group – Titan Blazer ($450 bid), Yahiro Bale ($200), Aston Ziebell ($340), Wharfie ($215), Springvale Roxy ($390), Lektra Rhino ($202) and Sister Roberta ($460).

And as it turned out, Lektra Rhino was the only greyhound to miss the final which was ultimately won by the Danny Gibbons trained Titan Blazer (Calcutta payout $3032). He defeated Lochinvar Cahill ($190 in the second group) and Sister Roberta.

Douglas and Manser will be back at Tara Raceway on Friday night for the 2024 Cadillac Racing Mount Gambier Cup Calcutta auction, proceedings kicking off at around 6 o’clock.

Following the GRSA cup draw in Adelaide on Wednesday afternoon, a Mount Gambier subcommittee will then meet to frame the Calcutta groups for this year’s $36,000 cup.

Calcutta tickets at $1 each or $80 for 100 will be on sale on Friday night as will barbecue and salad meals. The auction will commence at 7 o’clock.

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