Thursday, July 20, 2017
Sunday’s Eric Lewis Memorial final, which will see the clash of a top line-up of middle-distance greyhounds, is likely to be the last run at Tara Raceway over 600 metres.
This follows the re-introduction of 732 metre distance racing which is set down for Sunday, August 27 with the $2000 Destini Fireball Back To Distance Racing feature.
The Lewis Memorial became part of the Anniversary Cup meeting in 2014 following the introduction of 600 metre racing and after Eric Lewis’s son, Dale, approached the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club in regard to running a memorial distance race in memory of his father, a founding committee member of the South East Greyhound Racing Club and president from 1973 to 1975.
The Robert Britton trained Zipping Basil won the inaugural event in a time of 35.60 seconds while Charlton trainer Kevin Ashton was successful in 2015 with Harry Aztec who clocked 35.85 seconds. Supreme Deal, who defeated Old Jock by a neck in last year’s final in a time of 35.61 seconds, was a popular winner for long-time Mount Gambier trainer Ralph Patzel.
Lewis said this week that his father had been a great supporter of distance racing and with 732 metre racing to return he believed a step up in distance would be a good fit for the memorial.
“I’ve still got fond memories of his distance dog Kori Arc winning 12 city distance races in Victoria, and being runner-up to Ibrox in the 1977 Greyhound of the Year.
“And I still remember one memorable week when he won over 732 metres at Olympic Park on the Monday night and then won again on the Thursday at Sandown Park over 718 metres.”
Whelped in September 1975, Kori Arc was by Venetian Court x Baranita and a litter brother to Front Rank who when mated to the imported Luska Dubh produced Tara Topar, winner of the first Mount Gambier Cup in 1981.
Meanwhile, irrespective of distance, Sunday’s final should be a terrific race with Jeff Guy’s on-pacer Frac Geek looking well drawn out wide and Peter Franklin’s track record holder McIvor Verna awkwardly drawn in box five.
Guy said he thought Frac Geek, a 35.55 seconds heat winner last week, would once again find the front but conceded that McIvor Verna (35.27 seconds in her heat) would be extremely hard to hold out if she avoided early trouble.
Sunday’s Eric Lewis Memorial final will complement a top day of racing which also includes finals of the Anniversary Cup (512 m) and the John Reid Memorial (512 m).
The Anniversary Cup was first run in 1985 when won by the Hazel Lane trained Kenzel Lad while the Reid Memorial commenced in 2005 with Robert Halliday’s Itza Bee successful in 30.22 seconds.
UPSTAGING THE CUP CONTENDERS
Azumi Swift upstaged the big guns in the Anniversary Cup heats at Tara Raceway last Sunday when running a best of day time of 29.84 seconds in the Allestree Holiday Units Stake (512 m).
Appreciating the drop back from Free For All company to grade five, the black bitch looked very good in her all the way 9½ length win although Worrolong trainer Lehanne Bartholomew said she had no regrets in regard to bypassing the cup.
“After a couple of tough runs against the open class dogs, today’s race was what she really needed. It was a real confidence booster for her,” she said.
By Cosmic Chief out of Azumi Touch, a bitch who won most of her races over 400 metres, Azumi Swift is now starting to live up to the early promise that she showed at Tara Raceway.
“She won three races relatively quickly last year but then seemed to lose the plot,” Bartholomew said. “We turned her out for a break and then she came on season so she finished up being out for something like four months.”
Azumi Swift will now race tomorrow night from box one in a mixed 4/5 stake over 450 metres at Warrnambool.