It took a while, but the off again-on again 2020 Mount Gambier Cup was finally run – not in its traditional end of March timeslot but at the end of August.
Once the border closure was in place, the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club was always going to struggle by way of a lack of Victorian trainers and their greyhounds. The first casualty was the cup, Greyhound Racing SA cancelling the event but later rescinding this decision after lobbying from the club.
By the time the cup final came around on August 30 at Tara Raceway, patrons were permitted back on track, albeit with a social distancing policy in place, food and drink was once again available and for this day only the on-course TAB was operational.
Hampering the coverage of what was the 40th consecutive running of the event was the lack of promotion in the local print media after the 159-year-old The Border Watch closed its doors a week before the final.
Interestingly, soon into September, Lifestyle 1, a weekly give away, had changed to a newspaper format. A weekly newspaper called the SE Voice was launched soon after. Following was the news that The Border Watch had new owners and would be relaunched in October on a once-a-week basis.
All things considered, cup day went off pretty well. On track were GRSA representatives Grantley Stevens, Matt Corby, Gavin Bosch and Adrian Battiston who were all suitably impressed.
Dark clouds were looming, though. Once the cup was over GRSA believed the club would probably struggle for nominations and as such should close until such time as the border reopened and Victorian participants could return to Mount Gambier.
MGGRC president Noel Perry argued that closure at this time could result in the track never reopening. Corby, to his credit, took this on board with the resultant outcome being that greyhound racing continues at Tara Raceway on Thursday afternoons.
SA’s leading trainer Tony Rasmussen, who had been down for the cup, pledged his continued support. And he’s been as good as his word, helping in no small way to ensure the club continues to attract sufficient nominations.
In fact, such has been his involvement that he’s already into the top 10 on the leading trainers’ list and will represent the club in the forthcoming SA Country Cup final at Angle Park with Hot Sambuca.
Also supporting the club in recent times have been Kevin Bewley and the Trengove family of Lewiston and Charlie Adcock of Kilburn.
The year of change continued in early September when, with the on-course TAB once again closed, local bookmaker Darren Guthridge made a guest appearance at a Tara Raceway Sunday meeting. This was the first time in many years that a bookie had fielded at the track.
And the Winter Classic was run in Spring. Not that local trainer Tracie Price cares too much what season the age-restricted event is run in. His recent win with Our Boy Thommo was his fourth in the classic’s seven-year history.
Slowly, Victorian participants are making their way back to the Mount Gambier track. Cap Abbott of Edenhope has been given the all clear. He’s been quick to pick up from where he left off all those months ago with winners at his first two meetings back.
Monty Wilson of Mumbannar is also right to go as is Scott Blacksell of Cape Bridgewater. While it’s fair to say that Blacksell’s greyhounds will be a welcome addition to the pool, local participants should be prepared for the continuation of his over the top sore shoulder saga.