Thursday, December 14, 2017
If times count for anything then Zuma Creek should be mighty hard to beat in the Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup final (512 metres), one of the highlights of the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s Christmas meeting at Tara Raceway on Sunday.
Raced by Danny Kelly, the son of Fabregas x Skye Creek is trained at Mortlake by Peter Crawley who certainly liked what he saw when the race time of 29.73 seconds was posted for Zuma Creek’s win in the second of two cup heats at last Sunday’s meeting.
Twenty minutes earlier Fiorelli Rose had won her way through to the final, and taken the lead in the Greyhound of the Year award, with a run of 30.24 seconds – which would turn out to be something like seven lengths slower than Crawley’s dog.
Zuma Creek hasn’t drawn all that well in Sunday’s final – box five – but it’s the same box he jumped from in his heat when he overcame his customary average start to find the front going into the back straight before holding out a pretty handy type in Lektra Stomp in the run to the line.
The win once again confirmed Zuma Creek’s track specialist status with his Tara Raceway record now standing at 14 starts for seven wins and five minor placings.
Crawley, who has been involved in greyhound racing for more than 40 years, is still chasing feature race success at Tara Raceway, his last cup finalist being Fluke Of Fantasy in the 2016 Mount Gambier Cup.
Team Lenehan’s Lektra Stomp, who suffered a minor setback after winning last month’s Newman McDonnell Memorial, had not raced for three weeks and should be better for the run, although box eight in Sunday’s final could be the query.
From a Christmas Cup point of view the story of the day will come if Compton trainer Tracie Price, who two years ago won the cup with Fear The Rascal, can land this year’s prize with his now veteran litter brother Shannah’s Might.
Leading trainer Nicole Stanley, of Portland, looks to hold a strong hand in three of Sunday’s feature events – Fiorelli Rose chasing her second cup this year after Anniversary Cup success in July while Hit The Runway will join her in the Christmas Cup from an ideal box one after finishing strongly for third in last week’s heat behind Zuma Creek and Lektra Stomp.
Stanley has three genuine chances – Rising Girl, Hay Miss and Stylish Pursuit – in the bitches-only Fashion D’Or Ladies Bracelet, this year being run over 600 metres, and another top chance with Oh No Beta who has drawn box one in the Christmas Challenge (400 m) final.
Price, who will finish runner-up to Stanley in this year’s Leading Trainer award, is a strong chance in the Royal Fashion Maiden final (512 m) with Shannah’s Might’s younger half-sister Shine On Shannah who won a heat on debut last Sunday.
Lektra Menzel, a kennelmate to Lektra Stomp and trained at Toolong by Phil Lenehan, looks the main danger in the Royal Fashion after winning the other heat last week and likely to be improved by the run on the track.
Price also has three finalists in the Christmas Challenge, Baz’s Moment probably his best chance from a favourable box two draw.
The Peter Franklin trained Future Past, another veteran chaser, has drawn well in box eight in the Christmas Challenge final after running a good second behind Scorpion in a heat last week.
It will be a busy weekend for the Moyston trainer who will be at The Meadows on Saturday night with his last start Ballarat winner McIvor Verna for a 725 metre event.
The re-introduction of 732 metre racing at Tara Raceway was always going to be a tough ask but it’s probably fair to say that since the first stayers’ race in more than three years was run at the end of August the exercise has been reasonably successful.
A five-dog Back To Distance Racing will kick off Sunday’s meeting with Emily As and Bekim Lucy’s, who clashed over 731 metres at Angle Park on Monday night when finishing third and fifth respectively, looking to be the main chances.