Racing over 305 metres for the first time will commence at Mount Gambier’s Tara Raceway on Sunday, January 24 with the Razza Racing Feature Maiden heats.
Sponsored by Tony and Lisa Rasmussen of Gifford Hill, the final of the open maiden event will be run on Sunday, January 31 and carry an added $1000 which was donated by the Rasmussen team.
The sponsorship came about last year after Tony Rasmussen, SA’s leading trainer, raced for a period on a regular basis at Tara Raceway to assist the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club which had been hit hard by the border closure.
At the same time, the MGGRC committee had moved to reintroduce 277 metres racing on a restricted basis. The idea was to run two short-course races each week – one for youngest-up greyhounds (minimum age 16 months) and the other for those four years and older.
The theory was that the short-course might entice connections to perhaps try their younger greyhounds in a race rather than continue to trial them for an extended period. And also keep the older dogs in the racing system for a longer period.
The move to give the club a couple more races a week seemed to work pretty well.
Meanwhile, in the background was Greyhound Racing SA Strategic Projects Manager Scott Wuchatsch who had been working on a plan to increase the 277 metres distance to 305 metres.
“Any race distance starting with a three always looks better than one starting with a two,” he had said. And that’s a fair call.
Wuchatsch’s proposal to increase the distance by 28 metres was met with approval by the MGGRC committee. And Rasmussen, who had been set to sponsor a 277 metres maiden heats and final, opted to wait for the 305 metres.
The final 277 metres race was conducted on Sunday, December 20, Shima Breeze running a 16.00 seconds track record. Soon after, the boxes were switched to the 305 metres slab and trials were ready to start.
Come Sunday, February 7, 305 metres racing will revert to two races a week – youngest-up maiden and four years and older as had previously been the case with the 277 metres events.
Weekly Thursday time-graded meetings will be confined to racing over distances of 400 metres, 512 metres and 600 metres.
Steward Barry Shepheard, while conceding that he would like to see a couple of full-field trials prior to the start of racing on January 24, said trialling up until now had gone pretty well.
Currently, only one track is listed as running 305 metre races and that’s Grafton where the track record is held by Copperhead Rogue at 17.09 seconds. That’s a fair bit quicker than any time recorded so far at Tara Raceway on a trial morning!