Monday, February 4, 2019
It was the discovery in the green shed at the rear of the Tara Raceway complex by Kevin Jones and Monty Wilson of a long-lost trophy that eventually led to the presentation of the Ian Badger Trainer of the Year award on Sunday to Tracie Price, of Compton.
“Hey, you might be able to do something with this trophy,” said the droll Wilson one morning several years ago as he wiped off the dust and cobwebs – the engraving confirming that it was close to 40 years old.
As it turns out, the trophy was for the 1979-1980 Leading Trainer, and had been won by Ian Badger at what was the inaugural racing season at the Glenburnie track. The trophy now stands in the memorabilia section at Tara Raceway.
Badger, a local high school teacher at the time, later became one of the driving forces behind greyhound racing in Mount Gambier. In 1996 he was awarded posthumous life membership of the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing and Coursing Club Inc. after his sudden death on March 31, 1995 at the age of 46.
In 2017, after the Wilson and Jones treasure hunt unearthed the sizeable trophy, the MGGRC committee had unanimously agreed to a recommendation that as from 2018 the trainer’s award would be known as the Ian Badger Trainer of the Year.
These days, Kevin “KD” Douglas, who taught in Mount Gambier with Badger, is an outstanding ambassador for the local greyhound club, professionalism personified at feature race presentations and the Mount Gambier Cup Calcutta.
He thought the leading trainer concept was a sound idea and as such at a race meeting some time later took on the task of tracking down Judy Badger who had left the region soon after her husband’s death.
Within an hour he was talking to her on the phone. And later, Douglas arranged for other teachers who had taught with Badger to attend Tara Raceway with Judy Badger (now Sellen) for the presentation of the inaugural Ian Badger Trainer of the Year award.
For Price, 2018 was a record-breaking year at his home track with 137 wins, 124 seconds and 102 thirds – 16 doubles, 11 trebles, four winners on six occasions and four bags of five winners certainly contributing to his overall tally.
His highlight at Tara Raceway during 2018? Surely Rockoon’s 512 metre 29.28 seconds track record on July 1. No greyhound has come close to running that time since.
And his highlight away from Tara Raceway? The home-grown Smart Knocka’s Adelaide Cup Consolation win at Angle Park in October.
The 2018 Greyhound of the Year went down to the wire. Both Paraphernalia and Oh No Beta had their chances in the concluding stages of the year but in the end it was the former prevailing with 63 points after stringing together 13 wins, four seconds and three thirds.
Oh No Beta’s 61 points were accumulated through nine wins, 10 seconds and five thirds.
Whelped in April 2014, Paraphernalia is a son of Big Daddy Cool and prolific producer Scrappy Coco. He’s owned by Chris Johnson and was trained until the end of 2018 by Jeff Guy of Horsham.
The now rising five-year-old fawn dog first raced at Tara Raceway on March 6, 2016 when he ran second to Lektra Jewel in a grade six 512 metre event.
By October he was breaking track records over 600 metres, running 34.99 seconds when defeating Stan’s Choice. Eight months later he lowered the record to 34.97 seconds before winning the 2017 Iron Dog three-distance series.
Come 2018 and his award-winning year, Paraphernalia was the only greyhound to reach both the Mount Gambier Cup and Anniversary Cup finals at Tara Raceway. He also made it back-to-back Iron Dog wins and, together with Hutch, represented Mount Gambier in the SA Country Cup final at Angle Park.
By the end of 2018 the then 138-start veteran had raced at Tara Raceway on 35 occasions for 19 wins and 10 minor placings.
Placing the presentation rug on Paraphernalia was Ralph Patzel, trainer of Ashanti Gem, winner of the first Greyhound of the Year award at the Lake Terrace East venue in 1997.