With any sort of luck, this year’s Mount Gambier Cup should run somewhat smoother than that of last year when Sunset Milo finally won the on again-off again Group Listed event at the end of August.
With the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club welcoming local businesses the Commercial Hotel and Exchange Printers on board as major sponsors, heats of this year’s cup over 512 metres will be run on Sunday, April 11 and the final on April 18.
From a local point of view, Compton trainer Tracie Price, with a treble yesterday, looks to hold one of the strongest hands.
Golly Gumdrops, winner of the Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup (512 m), made it three wins in a row when leading all the way in the Greg Martlew Autos Mixed Stake (600 m).
Price was also successful with Slick Fernando who dropped back to 400 metres. However he was a 512 metres winner last week in a quick 29.69 seconds.
And Rough In Vegas continued his consistent form when holding out the Peter Keane-trained littermates Me Silly and Hello Keen in the Winmore Greyhound Kennels Mixed Stake (512 m) in a time of 29.95 seconds.
A member of the successful Fernando Bale x Sisco Sizzle litter, Me Silly is better known over the short course but yesterday worked home well to go down by only three-quarters of a length.
And with Hello Keen, a quick 25.09 seconds 450 metres winner at Warrnambool earlier in the year, also working home well it will now be interesting to see whether the Koroit-based Keane heads back here for the cup.
Staking a claim in the Formula 400 (400 m), one of the supporting events at cup time, would be littermate and kennelmate Gotcha Laz who was an impressive 8¼ lengths winner yesterday in 22.96 seconds in the JB Irrigation Stake (400 m).
Portland trainer Nifty Lenehan has already signalled his intention to tackle the Formula 400 with the John Cameron owned Free Gift, a 22.98 seconds winner over 400 metres the previous week.
Lenehan said the son of Lightning Frank x Jasmine Lilly had initially been a bit of a challenge inasmuch that all he wanted to do was to mess around with other dogs.
“For sure, in the early stages he just wouldn’t break-in and he did require a lot of patience. But he now seems to be switched on. I’ve been really pleased with his past two runs which have resulted in wins in quick time at Warrnambool and Mount Gambier.”
Another cup supporting event is the Tankman 600 (600 m), won last year by the Cap Abbott trained Black Spring.
And Toolong trainer Phil Lenehan, who won the feature middle-distance event at the 2016 cup carnival with Lektra Kelly, may well consider a crack at the Tankman with Don’t Forget Kev after the son of Keybow x Lektra Hutch yesterday ran Golly Gumdrops to 2½ lengths.
Once again, Greyhound Racing SA cup bonuses linking both the Murray Bridge Cup and the Mount Gambier Cup are in place.
These include a $5000 bonus if the same dog can win both the cups and a $5000 trainer bonus if the same trainer can win both cups (SA or interstate or different dogs).
With Air Marshall, a half-brother to 2019 Mount Gambier Cup finalist Wanchai Express, having won the Murray Bridge Cup interest will now centre on Reeves Plains trainer Ray Murray and whether he intends to chase the $10,000 bonus.
With four Sunday meetings at Tara Raceway in April – Easter, ANZAC Day and two for the cup – and five Thursday time-graded meetings, it will be a busy time for local greyhound racing.
Meanwhile, due to a lack of response, next Tuesday’s scheduled greyhound health and fitness checks at Tara Raceway by Craig Finlayson have been cancelled.
The free checking service by the highly-regarded veterinary surgeon, which had been instigated by the MGGRC at the request of participants, now looks in danger of being discontinued.
The next scheduled day is now Tuesday, April 27 with bookings closing on Thursday, April 22. A minimum of 40 greyhounds will be required.