Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club

Tara Raceway, Lake Terrace East, Mount Gambier, SA

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Halliday sets sights on another Country Cup

Compton Robbie’s return to winning form at Tara Raceway last weekend now has long-time Portland trainer Robert Halliday seriously looking at the forthcoming SA Country Cup heats at Tara Raceway.

Last successful at the local track back on June 25 when defeating Hooked On Love over 600 metres in a smart 35.03 seconds, the son of Glen Gallon and 2015 Mount Gambier Cup winner Lots Of Yap looked well placed in Sunday’s Williams Crane Hire Mixed Stake (512 m).

SA Country Cup contender Compton Robbie after his win at Tara Raceway last Sunday.

Away fairly from box one, Compton Robbie soon found himself on the pace before finishing strongly to defeat Nero Valentino by 2¼ lengths in 30.01 seconds.

Raced by Halliday’s wife Shirley, the black April 2021 dog was purchased from Compton trainer Tracie Price – also expected to hold a strong hand in the Country Cup – in October last year. He has now won 11 races and run eight minor placings from 34 race starts.

Actually, Halliday’s involvement with the SA Country Cup goes back to November 2008 when Tickets Please represented the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club (MGGRC) at Gawler in the 531 metre final.

By Elite State out of Itza Rule, Tickets Please ran down Port Augusta representative Classy Ace, trained by Don Fiebig of Booleroo Centre, to win by a half-length in 31.28 seconds.

Ten years later Halliday was at Angle Park for the SA Country Cup final, this time with Hutch, a well-bred son of Premier Fantasy and Cairnlea Ellie and a winner of 27 races and $30,000 in prize money.

“Hutch certainly was a handy dog. The previous year he had won Mount Gambier’s Summer Classic and in 2018 the Mount Gambier Cup Consolation when defeating a pretty smart dog in Henry,” Halliday said.

“As far as the 2018 SA Country Cup was concerned we headed off to Adelaide full of hope after defeating Jeff Guy’s Paraphernalia in the one-off heat here at Tara Raceway. But Hutch found trouble in the final and later copped 10 days for injury.

“However, the night wasn’t a complete write-off because I did manage to catch up with the GRSA Hunnies!”

The $7500 SA Country Cup final will be run at Angle Park over 530 metres on Adelaide Cup final night – Friday, October 6. The three clubs will each be represented by two greyhounds.

Qualifying heats (a maximum of two per club will be run at Gawler (531 m) on Friday, September 22; Mount Gambier (512 m) and Murray Bridge (530 m) on Sunday, September 24.

The SA Country Cup is open to all SA greyhounds that are not above Grade 5 at Angle Park (APK City A meeting only) over 530 metres at the time of nomination. However, this condition does not apply to the Mount Gambier representatives.

Also, the MGGRC is permitted to include non-SA trainers provided they have had starters at 10 meetings at Mount Gambier over the previous 12 months. Also, the interstate trainer must have trained the greyhound nominated for the previous two months.

Robert Halliday . . . catching up with the GRSA Hunnies at Angle Park back in 2018.

Other previous Mount Gambier representatives to have won the SA Country Cup include Nickelman (Gawler 1995), Moorak Hope (Gawler 2013), Berry Bling (Strathalbyn 2016) and He’s All Purpose (Angle Park 2021).

Meanwhile, back before Cadillac Racing went into overdrive, Captain Abbott collected a couple of Greyhound of the Year awards with Black Spring in 2019 and Another Pick in 2021.

Now it’s partner Kerry Hawker who continues to chip away with rising five-year-old Nero Valentino as he battles to accumulate sufficient points to take the lead in this year’s Greyhound of the Year.

Currently leading the way is Jason Newman’s Wind Burn Flash with 10 wins, four seconds and two thirds for a total of 50 points. But she hasn’t raced since mid-July and it’s unknown whether she will be back again this year.

Remarkably, prior to last Sunday’s meeting Nero Valentino was only three points behind Wind Burn Flash. And that’s with four wins, 13 seconds and eight thirds at this year’s Category 2 Tara Raceway meetings.

The son of Fernando Bale and Sweet Barbados was having his 100th start when taking on Compton Robbie. And he certainly gave it his best shot when finding the front from box eight before being beaten into second spot by 2¼ lengths.

Last year it was a case of Nero Valentino finishing fourth in the Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year behind the Newman trained Departure Gate.

This year another second placing – another two points and Nero Valentino closes the gap to one point. How this all plays out is anyone’s guess.

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