With distance racing over 732 metres back at Tara Raceway after a two-year absence, the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club is now in the unique situation of being the only SA club able to run races over five different distances.
When racing commenced at the Lake Terrace East venue on January 25, 1997 it was the Richard Clayfield trained Bright Option who won the first race run at the track – a maiden over 512 metres in 31.30 seconds (best 30.95).
The short-course distance of the day was 277 metres while an occasional 732 metres was run from the same starting boxes.
In 2010 the 277 metres scamper was replaced by the 400 metres distance. And in June 2014 middle-distance racing was programmed at Tara Raceway over 600 metres – the first race to be run won by David Peckham’s Thanks Tubby in 35.56 seconds.
Then, in January this year, 305 metres was introduced. Primarily intended for younger greyhounds, the first of the Sundays-only short-course events was won by Annette Kampman’s Myola Dawn in 17.66 seconds.
As it turned out, yesterday’s 10-race meeting marked the return of distance racing and also included races over the other four distances.
Members of the Lewiston/Two Wells-based Trengove team were back – Clint and his son Harry looking to take over from where Jack (nephew/cousin) had left off at last Thursday’s meeting with four winners.
And the suggestion had been put forward that Clint, his wife Shelley and Jack between them looked well-placed to perhaps being able to win races over the five distances.
Clint and Shelley Trengove’s Victa Jess and Crown Suzie fought out the Williams Crane Hire Mixed Stake (600 m) with the former winning by two lengths in a quick 35.06 seconds.
Shelley was successful in the Exchange Printers Stake (400 m) when Howling Hoss scored an outstanding win over Glenville Rose by 8¾ lengths in a quick 22.77 seconds.
Bella Rocks, a litter sister to Clint’s Thursday night Leigh Rogers finalist Frankie Boy at Angle Park, was then too good for Galactic Medusa over 512 metres in a time of 29.98 seconds.
With three of the four runners, the Trengove family looked to hold a strong hand in the Winning Post Supplies Back to Distance Racing Stake (732 m).
That’s how the race played out. Criminal found the front down the back the second time around before running out a 4¼ lengths winner over Born A Runner and disappointing favourite Stella Stone in a pretty handy time of 43.76 seconds.
By Barcia Bale out of Appointed, the black dog is trained by Jack Trengove and raced by the Pearcedale-based Tullio family. Their association with Tara Raceway goes back to 2014 when they won the Mount Gambier Cup with Veetee Express.
Criminal, who won his maiden at Tara Raceway over 400 metres in July, had previously raced once over the distance when finishing fourth over 730 metres at Angle Park in September.
And while the Trengoves did well to win races over four distances – Emerley Apep actually made it five wins for the day when also successful over 400 metres – the Klaassens Contractors Juvenile Stake (305 m) was probably always going to be the stumbling block.
Taking full advantage of his SA-bred status, Arctic Bear, trained at Worrolong by Lee Bartholomew, had already won three Juvenile races for the month – one of those resulting in a track record of 17.35 seconds.
An October 2019 whelping, yesterday was Arctic Bear’s last chance at a crack at the non-penalty grade for greyhounds two years old and younger.
The big white and brindle son of Flying Stanley and Galactic Cat never really looked like being beaten, eventually running out a 3¾ lengths winner over another Trengove runner in Gypsy Boy in 17.52 seconds.
Speaking after the race, part-owner Steve Bartholomew said Arctic Bear’s litter sister Mary Bridget had returned to Worrolong after a short stint of racing in Adelaide.
“She was racing in terrific form when winning the Winter Classic here back in August,” he said. “The fact that she’s not a good traveller prompted us to place her in Adelaide to see how she measured up in the city.
“She had two runs at Angle Park but was disappointing in both of them so we decided to bring her home.”
Meanwhile, after 10 months, David Peckham of Allendale East has hit the front in the Ian Badger Leading Trainer award.
Wins by Trademark Bourne in the Todd’s Photographics Mixed Stake (400 m) and Educate in the Progreyhoundtips.com Stake (400 m), plus four minor placings, now has him on 718 points, 10 clear of Tracie Price of Compton.