Monday, October 8, 2018
While the affable Stephen Bruce of Warrnambool is by no means a regular at Tara Raceway, his involvement in local greyhound racing does go back a long time – to the days of Glenburnie, in fact.
However, reminiscing at last Friday’s time-graded meeting, Bruce, who rates Krysalis and Skull Wheel as two of his better dogs, recalled that he had never trained a winner at Glenburnie.
“I reckon the closest I came to a winner there was one day back in 1988 when I brought over a bitch for Jim Williams called Blue Heidi who won,” he said.
And when he lined up from box one with Bella Express in Friday’s Klaassens Contractors Stake (512 metres) he was still chasing his first winner at the Lake Terrace East venue, in operation since January 1997.
Raced by the Craig Smith-managed Rookie Racing Syndicate, Bella Express – by US sire Bella Infrared out of the Victorian city-winning Mepunga Lana – joined Bruce’s kennels in February this year after having previously won 13 races.
The black dog had won a further three races this year at Geelong, Ballarat and Sandown Park for his new trainer and, despite having his first start at Tara Raceway, never gave Bruce too many worries when leading all the way to defeat Bungaloo Thor by 3¾ lengths in 30.19 seconds.
Incidentally, Krysalis, by Hay Dinney out of Star Combe and bred at Port Fairy by Ted Heard, won 13 races between 1992 and 1994 while Skull Wheel (Pure Octane x Side Hacker) was successful on 11 occasions during 2009-2010.
Tahara owner Shane Flink reckoned it must have been the name holding back Gypsy Shane who prior to the Laser Electrical Maiden Stake (400 m) had gone around 22 times for only a couple of minor placings.
By Addis Boy, who last raced more than 14 years ago, out of Camo’s Prinny, winner of the 2013 Mount Gambier Anniversary Cup, the diminutive24 kilogram Gypsy Shane was a late starter, making her debut at 2½ years for Hamilton trainer Tony Harding.
But Flink, who had picked her up as a giveaway long before then, said it wasn’t originally his intention to race her.
“She was in one of the runs at Tahara for months before I decided to ask Tony if he wanted to have a go with her,” he said.
Anyway, whatever it was that was holding her back, Gypsy Shane shrugged off the shackles on Friday when flying the start from box eight, leading all the way for a one length win over Serendipity Star in 24.06 seconds.
Even though Gypsy Shane was one of the rank outsiders at $20, it was a popular win for Flink and Harding, constant travelling companions who rarely miss a Tara Raceway meeting or the opportunity of having a small wager on their dogs at big odds.