It’s now two years since Lara greyhound training team Deb Coleman and Rob Camilleri were at Tara Raceway with Slingshot Hammer for the Group Listed Mount Gambier Cup (512 metres).
As luck would have it, he drew box one in the final after a best of day 29.45 seconds heat win. It’s now history, though, how the local youngster Galactic Athena ran down Slingshot Hammer in the shadows of the post to score a memorable win in what was then a race record 29.43 seconds.
The pair had Zipping Zarbo engaged in yesterday’s Mount Gambier Cup heats, the daughter of El Grand Senor and Zipping Abby boasting a record of 22 wins from 48 starts but having never seen the track and having to contend with box four.
A short-priced favourite in heat four, she looked to be in a bit of trouble early before railing through on the first turn and then taking the lead down the back straight.
From then on she was never in any danger of defeat, eventually running out a 6¾ lengths winner over Night To Burn in 29.54 seconds which ultimately was the second-fastest of the six heats.
And once again, as luck would have it, Coleman and Camilleri drew box one in a Mount Gambier Cup final, now hoping to go one better in this Sunday’s final.
Yesterday turned out to be a good day for the kennel with Coleman in NSW with Destruction and Overflow Lisa for heats of the Ladbrokes Nowra Puppy Classic (520 m) – both making it through to the final when running first and second in their respective heats.
Speaking from Lara this morning, Camilleri said he had been pleased with Zipping Zarbo’s effort in her Mount Gambier Cup heat considering she hadn’t previously seen the track.
“It’s now a matter of whether she can nail the start and make full use of box one. If she can, then obviously she should be very hard to beat,” he said. “She’s very consistent, a pleasure to train and gives it all she’s got. And really, that’s all you can ask.”
Camilleri said the whole operation was a real team effort with Coleman attending to much of the daily maintenance and her son Ricky, handling Zipping Zarbo yesterday, travelling to many of the tracks with their runners.
“Actually, Ricky’s doing a great job and he’ll be back with her for the final. Now that he knows the way to Mount Gambier I’d like to utilise Tara Raceway on a more regular basis.”
Allendale East trainer David Peckham struck a blow for the locals when Tippa won the first heat. Leading all the way, the son of Barcia Bale x Irisize hung on to win by a head over Saint Mac in 30.31 seconds.
The black dog is raced by Tim Aloisi and Matt Lehman who won last year’s cup with the Aloisi-trained Sunset Milo. Peckham is still chasing his first cup win but after the running of the remaining five heats it appears Tippa’s task will not be all that easy, especially from box five.
At Tara Raceway for the first time – and suitably impressed – Two Wells trainer Bec Romyn, after a couple of time-graded wins with Stareena and Bella’s Night in February, took a step up in class yesterday when contesting the second heat of the cup with Renewed.
Having his first SA start after six wins in Victoria and another six in WA, the son of Kinloch Brae x Receptive handled himself pretty well considering it was his first look at the track.
Always on the pace, Renewed, a winner over 600 metres, matched motors with Numinous and Tiger Time down the back before railing through on Tiger Time turning for home and proving too strong when running out a 1¼ lengths winner in 29.72 seconds.
Romyn, who trained greyhounds in Victoria for 13 years prior to relocating to SA in July last year, currently has 25 in work and has done well since making the move.
Renewed’s former owner had suggested to Romyn that the brindle dog could be a good purchase for her to race SA. She then roped-in dad Peter as a part-owner. So far he has no complaints.
“Being a September 2017 whelping, we actually purchased him with veterans’ races in mind. Making the Mount Gambier Cup final is certainly a bonus although the final is going to be a tough race to win. But I certainly couldn’t be happier in the way he pulled up,” she said.
As things stand, Romyn rates her favourite dog as being Angry Trip. That could change come Sunday afternoon.
Laharum owner-trainer Jeff Guy knows only too well the frustrations of a Mount Gambier Cup final after finishing sixth in the 2018 final with his former terrific chaser Paraphernalia behind Xtreme Caution.
He was back yesterday for another try, this time with his speedy daughter of Fernando Bale x Dark Smiffy, Fugacious, who last month strung together a couple of quick 29.66 seconds and 29.70 seconds runs as a lead-up to the cup.
And she went right on with the job, away well from box seven (the same box she’s drawn in the final) before taking over the running from Silent Jacko down the back straight.
On the line she had a length to spare over Portland trainer Neville Lenehan’s Hostile Savage who stormed home to be beaten a length in 29.76 seconds, much to the disappointment of local owner Jim Collins.
Further disappointment was to follow for Collins when Hostile Savage (29.8175 seconds) was relegated to first reserve for the cup final after two other runners-up in Tiger Time (29.81 seconds) and Oakvale Style (29.8120 seconds) reached the final by the narrowest of margins.
However, Lenehan, acting as caretaker trainer for Andrea Dailly of Anakie, led in the final two heat winners – Fabriola Zad and Gypsy Bun both impressing when running times of 29.33 seconds and 29.67 seconds respectively.
Having his first run at the track, Fabriola Zad was quickly away from box eight and in front turning out of the first turn. From then on it was always going to be a matter of how far, the red fawn dog finishing full of running to defeat last year’s cup winner Sunset Milo by 8¼ lengths.
Raced by the Dailly Greyhound Farms Syndicate, the winner’s time was only three-quarters of a length outside Rockoon’s track record of 29.28 seconds established on July 1, 2018.
In the sixth and final heat, the Dailly team’s Gypsy Bun took the lead down the back before holding off a determined Oakvale Style to score by two lengths.
Meanwhile, for the first time in many years, a bookmaker will be fielding at Sunday’s Mount Gambier Cup final, along with the TAB.
For well-known local bookmaker Darren Guthridge, this will be the first time he has operated at the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s cup meeting.
Guthridge is the son of former leading local greyhound trainer Kevin Guthridge who trained Cindy’s Range, runner-up to Tara Topar in the inaugural Mount Gambier Cup at Glenburnie in 1981.