It was a successful return to Tara Raceway for Peter Fulton of Ecklin South on January 7 when he won with I’m A Burner at the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s opening time-graded meeting.
Due to border restrictions, that was his first time at the track since March last year, the popular 27-year-old trainer then kicking off last Sunday’s meeting with a win in the Progreyhoundtips.com Stake (600 metres) with On Gas Blazing.
A winner the previous week over 545 metres at Ballarat, the black dog led all the way and despite using plenty of the track was never headed when holding out odds-on favourite Rajasthan to win by a neck in 35.58 seconds.
Purchased at 16 months of age by Sam Negrello, a long-time acquaintance of the trainer, On Gas Blazing’s breeding of Mepunga Blazer x Kerrigan Bale was the selling point.
“He was advertised in the Buy, Swap and Sell section on Facebook. Sam had been looking for a dog and I liked the breeding so I suggested he purchase this one,” Fulton said.
And other Victorian trainers are now also starting to find their way back to Tara Raceway.
Portland trainer Nifty Lenehan – his last Tara Raceway winner being Spooky Visitor in February 2020 – returned with a winner in the form of Free Gift in the Bartholomew Pick 6 Stake (400 m).
Free Gift, a maiden winner over 390 metres at Warrnambool on Christmas Eve, and King Crow matched motors for much of the journey, the former eventually getting the nod by a head in 23.47 seconds.
By Lightning Frank out of 102-start veteran Jasmine Lilly, Free Gift is owned at Penshurst by John Cameron who trained the dam for five wins, four of those at Tara Raceway.
“I’ve had him since prior to racing after John encountered a few health issues,” Lenehan said. “Free Gift can run a bit but I reckon I’ll try and sharpen him up with a few more runs here behind the finish-on-lure.”
Lenehan’s brother, Toolong-based Phil, also returned to Tara Raceway recently for the first time since 2018. In fact, it was on April 20 that he trained his last winners at the local track – Lektra Lucy and Lektra Stomp – the latter running a then track record 29.35 seconds over 512 metres.
Lining up from box one in the Bourne Kennels Maiden/One Win Stake (512 m) was the Lenehan-trained Don’t Forget Kev, a white and black son of Keybow and Lektra Hutch, a half-sister to Lektra Stomp.
And Kev did the job the pretty well. Although no match early for Cryptic Signal, he had the tearaway leader well and truly in his sights turning for home before finishing strongly for a 3½ lengths win over Little Queeny in 30.34 seconds. A quinella for the Lenehan brothers.
Don’t Forget Kev was purchased as a pup by the Craft Syndicate, which comprises Phil’s cousins Barney and Stephen Lenehan and Peter Brown, publican of the Mamre Hotel at Pirron Yallock.
“Don’t Forget Kev is my first greyhound in more than 20 years,” a delighted Barney Lenehan said after the win. “But for Stephen, who actually picked him out, and Peter, he’s their first involvement in the sport.”
Portland trainer Nicole Stanley’s 2020 at Tara Raceway ended on March 8 with Aston Prestige and Picogram’s double. A far cry from those heady days of 2017 when she trained 111 winners and won the Mount Gambier Trainer of the Year award.
But it didn’t take Stanley long to return to the winner’s list upon her return last Sunday with Bel Air Haze, an all the way winner of the Produce Store Stake (400 m) in 23.53 seconds.
Owned by Glenn Rounds, the daughter of Blazin’ Bomber and 15-race winner Miss Bel Air (Brett Lee x Casey’s Angel) has now three races (two at Warrnambool over 390 m) since joining Stanley’s kennels in May last year.
“There were a few interruptions along the way with seasonal and niggling injuries but she now appears to be over those. During the latter part of 2020 it was certainly nice to have been able to race her on a regular basis,” she said.
The last time Laharum trainer Jeff Guy had raced at Tara Raceway was back at the end of 2018, his terrific dog Paraphernalia successful over 512 metres.
Guy won the final two races last Sunday with Fugacious and Numinous, the former putting in a terrific run to win the Klaassens Contractors Stake (400 m).
For Fugacious, chasing her sixth win, it was a case of having to work hard from box seven with Gold Burner and Saint Charlotte (a litter sister to Free Gift) setting a fair pace out in front.
But turning for home the Guy-trained daughter of Fernando Bale x Dark Smiffy took the rails run and finished with a head to spare in a quick 23.13 seconds.
And it’s Dark Smiffy’s bloodlines that already have Guy, who also bred his two winners, declaring that Fugacious would be his next brood bitch.
“Dark Smiffy is out of Tifi, a tremendous producer and the 2013 NSW Brood Bitch of the Year. She’s also the granddam of the million dollar greyhound Good Odds Harada.”
Guy said Fugacious was racing over 425 metres at Bendigo on Friday but would return to Tara Raceway for some confidence-boosting runs as he steps her up to 512 metres.
And Numinous quickly took over the running from Finniss Looper in the Winningformula.net.au Stake (400 m), eventually winning by a length over Slick Fernando in 23.32 seconds.
A winner of eight races, Numinous is by Fernando Bale out of Blackflip Kitty, a daughter of Proven Impala who won 31 races and more than $360,000 in stakemoney.