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Coming out from among the grapevines
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Long-time trainer Yvonne King made straight for the victory dais after HARRY AZTEC’S Mount Gambier Cup heat win last Sunday at Tara Raceway.
A week too soon but she could be excused. After all, this had been her first trip to race at the Mount Gambier track after spending 27 years training greyhounds among the grapevines at Langhorne Creek.
Now she’s wondering why it took her so long to make the trip.
Owner Ed Kowalewski, of Hahndorf, also made the trip and he enjoyed every second of the 30.09 of them that Harry Aztec took to win his way into another country cup final.
Actually, it’s probably fair to say that Kowalewski worked harder up the home straight than the dog did when defeating Blitz And Bolt by half a length.
Purchased as a five-month-old pup, the now four-year-old son of Aston Galilee x Prince’s Faye has won 15 races. He reached the final of last November’s Strathalbyn Cup and in another life had won the Eric Lewis Memorial (600 metres) at Tara Raceway so he did know his way around the track.
Originally, King had planned to also bring down Allinga Val, a winner of 11 races from 30 starts and $22,000 in stakemoney, but a shoulder injury has her sidelined at the moment.
By Fabregas x Allinga Aye Jay, Allinga Val, a sister to cup favourite Fabregal, is raced by her breeders, Tracey and Trevor Davey of Morphett Vale.
King, who enjoyed plenty of success with Auspicious Girl (23 wins) in the mid-1990s and Fear No One (17 wins) in the mid-2000s, is now hoping her long association with Kowalewski can lead to a cup win on Sunday.
MOJITO MAYHEM is owned at Bendigo by Barry Priest and trained at Moyston by Peter Franklin but ever since the striking-looking son of Fear Zafonic x Graceful Amy won his maiden on debut over 400 metres at Tara Raceway on October 24, 2014 in a best of day 23.14 seconds he’s been considered a Mount Gambier dog.
Having his first race start this year, the 2016 Mount Gambier Cup winner held off a determined Rock Away to win in 29.88 seconds.
He’s been a terrific story, having also won consecutive Anniversary Cups and then coming back from a career-threatening injury to win his way through to the 2016 Christmas Cup final.
But the big story could come on Sunday afternoon when he jumps from box two in the final and attempts to make it back-to-back Mount Gambier Cup victories.
It will be a history-making effort if Mojito Mayhem can match his effort of last year with 36 cups having previously been run but no greyhound yet to win more than one.
All things being equal, ARABELLA FIGG probably shouldn’t have even been running in a heat of the cup but she did and after settling mid-field finished too strongly for Future Past in 30.23 seconds to give easy-going Southern Cross trainer Peter Byrne his first finalist.
According to Byrne, he really wanted to run Arabella Figg in the Blue Lake 600 (600 m) but couldn’t make it to the Friday meeting so opted for the cup instead.
In Byrne’s kennels since last September, the Ian Cockerell-owned daughter of Kinloch Brae and the city-winning Finlandia has now won more than $20,000 after kicking off her career with a Sandown Park Victorian Breeders success.
From a final point of view, Byrne will now be hoping to go one better after his former smart sprinter Sherlock Bob ran second to Taipan Bale in the 2008 Healesville Cup.
Youngest cup finalist and least experienced is Portland trainer Robert Halliday’s young gun HUTCH who held off Tara Raceway 600 metre record holder Paraphernalia to win heat five in a personal best time of 29.91 seconds.
Whelped in April 2015, the well-bred son of Premier Fantasy x Cairnlea Ellie has now won four straight, coming into the cup after an impressive win in the Summer Classic.
With three Summer Classics having now been run, it’s interesting to note that all the winners have reached the Mount Gambier Cup final the following month – Cryer’s Ricky in 2015 and Menzel Boys last year.
Hutch is the youngest cup finalist since Don’t Panic, also an April whelping, started favourite in the 2012 final won by Rich Shiraz.