Monday, April 1, 2019
At 19 months of age, many greyhounds have yet to even race – let alone win.
Not so the local hope Galactic Athena who at start number six was lining up from box two in Sunday’s Group Listed Fairthorne Forestry Mount Gambier Cup final (512 metres) at Tara Raceway.
And while the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club may not have attracted quite the crowd it would have hoped for, it did attract the dogs – this year’s cup final surely one of the strongest ever in the 39 year history of the event.
There’s no doubting Galactic Athena, a 31 kilogram daughter of Paddy Whacker and Galactic Rumball, deserved her place in the $15,000-to-the-winner final after a quick 29.58 seconds heat win over Nirimba Pirate the previous week.
But seasoned Group race performer Slingshot Hammer – Lara connections Deborah Coleman and Rob Camilleri looking to further boost his considerable earnings of more than $100,000 – did look the one to beat after his 29.45 seconds heat win.
He was short, though, at $1.70. Pure White Evil, another heat winner, was tempting at $4.80 and Galactic Athena even more so at $7.
Colville, trained at Tarpeena by Allen Williams, had been the last local greyhound to win the Mount Gambier Cup and that was six years ago – Galactic Athena’s breeder-owner Robert Chuck of Moorak and trainer Steve Bartholomew of Worrolong hoping to improve on last year’s cup final effort when half-brother Galactic Panther ran third behind Xtreme Caution and Lektra Stomp.
The only bitch in the race and attempting to become the youngest-ever winner of the cup, Galactic Athena was only fairly away but by the time the field had made its way safely out of the first turn she had worked into second spot after railing through on Pure White Evil.
Giving them all something to chase, though, was Slingshot Hammer, away quickly from box one and mid-race travelling smoothly, Galactic Athena and Pure White Evil looking likely to fill the minor placings.
Slingshot Hammer, having his final run before heading to Sydney for the Golden Easter Egg, turned for home in front but was unable to withstand Galactic Athena’s unbelievable finish which saw her score by a half length in a race record time of 29.43 seconds.
This was a win from an August 2017 whelping that would have attracted attention Australia-wide with both the runner-up and third placegetter Pure White Evil also eclipsing 2017 winner Fabregal’s previous race record of 29.78 seconds.
For Bartholomew, a life member of the MGGRC, it was a win a long time coming. He handled the inaugural Mount Gambier Cup winner Tara Topar back in 1981 at Glenburnie and in the ensuing 39 years has reached the final with his own dogs on several occasions.
And Sunday’s win, he said, was a real team effort.
“I really have to thank my wife Lee for all the work she puts in with the dogs. Also I need to acknowledge the efforts of Ken Gillespie who comes out and helps us and, of course, Chuckie for giving me Galactic Athena to train.”
Bartholomew said they would now target the forthcoming Warrnambool Cup (450 m) with Galactic Athena.
“At this stage we’re looking at giving her a run at Warrnambool prior to the cup to see how she handles the one-bend track and go from there,” he said.
Heats of the Group 2 event will be run on Wednesday, April 24 with the $47,000-to-the-winner final on Wednesday, May 1.
Occasionally you have one of those days. Earlier on Sunday, the Chuck owned and trained Galactic Titan, a litter brother to Galactic Athena, lined up in the Produce Store Feature Maiden (512 m), the final, to be honest, looking to be a race in two between the brindle dog and Kevin Mugavin’s Spring Value.
Spring Value had impressed with a 30.06 seconds win in his heat the previous week while Galactic Titan, at his first race start, had raced greenly but still won the other heat in considerably slower time.
But a week can be a long time in greyhound racing, Chuck’s 35 kilogram dog obviously deriving plenty from the run went straight to the front from box seven, eventually holding out Spring Value to win by 1¾ lengths in 30.08 seconds.
The impressive efforts of Galactic Titan and Spring Value in Sunday’s long-running Produce Store Feature Maiden came on the back of last year’s event when Spring Bridge ran 29.63 seconds and served notice of bigger and better things to come.
And while on a somewhat lower key, greyhound racing will return to Tara Raceway on Wednesday afternoon for a 12-race time-graded meeting.