With this year’s Group 3 Carlin & Gazzard Mount Gambier Cup attracting a sufficient number of greyhounds to run seven heats, the Calcutta auction at Tara Raceway on Friday night looked set to be a night of spirited bidding.
The Calcutta, with the exception of a couple of recent Covid years, had always been part of the Mount Gambier Cup, right back to its beginnings in 1981 when the winner Tara Topar was sold for $100 in a Mount Gambier woolshed.
And despite a perceived lack of interest in this year’s Calcutta, Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club (MGGRC) officials had been confident that “everything would be right on the night.”
After all, the event had been well planned. MGGRC club manager Mark Dwyer had the catering covered while Kevin “KD” Douglas (MC), Chris Manser (auctioneer) and Adrian Jones (computer) had been involved with Calcuttas of all codes since the year dot.
But, as start time approached, they did ponder the possibility of whether there would be sufficient people in attendance to make the Calcutta work.
In fact, Douglas, Manser and Jones did more than just ponder the possibility. Douglas actually spoke publically to attendees in regard to the Calcutta options – one of them being that the event be cancelled.
Surely not – we were talking more than 40 years of history here!
Whether the Calcutta continued eventually went to a vote, those present opting to proceed but reminded that to make it work all 56 cup greyhounds would be required to be “sold” at the auction.
As far as the auction was concerned the cup contenders had been arranged into four groups – the perceived best chances to be auctioned last.
And after greyhounds in the first two groups all sold, for amounts ranging from $5 to $190, it was clear the Calcutta was safe for another year.
Also, it was clear that there was still money around for the last grouping – seven greyhounds that collectively had won $600,000 in prize money.
In the end it was Sister Roberta, trained locally by Tracie Price, who attracted the most attention with a bid of $460. Another popular runner was Victorian greyhound Titan Blazer, trained by Daniel Gibbons and purchased for $450.
But well done to those who took the time to attend the night and then made the effort to ensure the Calcutta pool was a workable one.
That this year’s Calcutta final prize money compared favourably with other years – 1st $3032, 2nd $866, 3rd $433 – was a credit to all those in attendance.
Among those in attendance were locals Steve Bartholomew and his daughter Elysia whose long day had commenced with a trip to the Murray Bridge meeting with Devilish Child and Victor Alfred.
Devilish Child, a daughter of Blue Moon Rising and Galactic Destiny, brought up her third win from four starts when leading all the way in a grade six event over 395 metres.
And Victor Alfred, after quickly moving into second spot from box eight, finished powerfully in the home straight to also win a grade six over 395 metres. The 35 kilogram son of Elite State and Dusty Pearl has now won four races from nine starts.