Long-time trainer Richard Clayfield, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, will be hoping for a change of luck with Close Your Eyes when she contests the South Eastern Hotel Mixed Stake over 600 metres at Tara Raceway on Sunday afternoon.
Close Your Eyes has run close seconds at her past three starts, all over 600 metres at the Mount Gambier track, first behind Mrs Flintstone and then to Black Spring in the Tankman 600 on Mount Gambier Cup day.
The clash of Clayfield’s bitch and Perseverance, current leader in the Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year, in last Sunday’s Gambier Vets Mixed Stake was always going to be a keenly-contested affair, especially after Close Your Eyes took up the early running from box two.
Down the back straight, though, it was Perseverance who moved to the front for Glencoe trainer Dean Fennell, chasing his first winner since the end of July.
Perseverance, a daughter of Dyna Double One and Miss Freelove, turned for home in front but Close Your Eyes was finishing powerfully. Too powerfully, in fact, checking off the heels of the leader and ultimately having to be content with yet another close second placing.
Fennell will now be hoping to keep his winning run going when Perseverance and Close Your Eyes clash again in Sunday’s last race. Clayfield, on the other hand, will be looking to boost his winning strike rate after having already trained 22 second-placegetters this year.
Close Your Eyes’ last win was two months ago at The Meadows where she won over 600 metres for Portland owner-trainer Nicole Stanley who shortly afterwards transferred the six-race winner to Clayfield’s Glenroy kennels.
Close Your Eyes certainly lacks for nothing when it comes to breeding. She’s by Taylors Sky, the 2011 English Derby winner, out of Lady Jasmin, a winner of 12 races from 17 starts for Northern Rivers trainer Frank Hancock.
Lee Bartholomew, of Worrolong, also will be hoping for a change of luck on Sunday with her dual cups placegetter Rough Pearl who will jump from box five in the Trackside Meats Grade 5 final (512 m).
The son of Dyna Double One and West On Jorji turned in terrific performances this year in the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s two major cups – second to Spring Cuervo in the Anniversary Cup and third behind Sunset Milo and Kipling in the recently-run Bourne Kennels Mount Gambier Cup.
Rough Pearl had no luck in his heat last week, finding trouble going out of the first turn before running home to fill third spot behind Elle Limes. Despite drawing drawing awkwardly in the final he should be mighty hard to hold out.
Dick Grayson, a litter sister to Rough Pearl and also trained by Bartholomew, looks well placed in the Bourne Kennels Maiden/One Win Stake (512 m). An impressive maiden winner at Tara Raceway last month, she followed up with a fast-finishing second behind Gold Burner in a grade six on cup day.
Meanwhile, Aston Hayato, a quick 22.96 seconds winner over 400 metres at Tara Raceway last Sunday for Allendale East trainer David Peckham, will contest a heat of the BGC Industrial Cleaning Supplies SA Derby (515 m) at Angle Park tonight.
For dogs whelped on or after June 1, 2018, the $25,750 Group 3 Derby final will be run next Thursday night in conjunction with the SA Oaks.
Although certainly not in the same league, heats of Mount Gambier’s Winter Classic (512 m), for dogs and bitches whelped on or after July 1, 2018, will be run next Thursday at Tara Raceway.