Thursday, July 26, 2018
All told, the 2½-year-old Ben Nevis, previously one of the “bad boys” of greyhound racing, had spent something like five months on the sidelines due to indiscretions on the track prior to winning last Sunday’s Anniversary Cup (512 metres) at Tara Raceway.
He even failed a couple of Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) assessments, owners Sue Smith and her daughter, leading Victorian trainer Angela Langton, finally opting for one last roll of the dice – with trainer Nicole Stanley.
Stanley has enjoyed considerable success over a long period of time with greyhounds raced by Smith and Langton’s Champagne Partners syndicate that have been considered not up to Victorian city standard or maybe could benefit from some racing behind the finish-on-lure at Tara Raceway.
But, according to the Portland trainer, Ben Nevis, who hadn’t raced since the end of February, had been something of a challenge.
“He arrived down here in May, however it took quite a few trials before he switched on to the finish-on-lure,” she said. “It was actually a couple of months before he returned to racing with a win over Lilly An’ Page, who subsequently won at Tara Raceway at her next start.”
By Return The King out of Tarks Jewel, a Sandown Park and The Meadows winner, Ben Nevis is a half-brother to last year’s Anniversary Cup winner Fiorelli Rose, also raced by the Champagne Partners and trained by Stanley.
With Bereluke through to last Sunday’s final by virtue of an impressive heat win and Ben Nevis qualifying with a solid third placing, Stanley looked well placed to become the first trainer to win back-to-back Anniversary Cups with different greyhounds since Connie Miller won with Kenzel Lad and Durafi in 1986-1987 at Glenburnie.
Peter Franklin, of Moyston, is the only trainer to have won back-to-back cups with the same greyhound – Mojito Mayhem in 2015 and 2016 – although Kenzel Lad also won the inaugural event in 1985 when trained by Hazel Lane.
With wins also at Sandown Park and Angle Park, there had never been any doubting Ben Nevis’s ability and it was as if the black dog had a point to prove when he lined up from the awkward box six draw in last Sunday’s 34th Anniversary Cup final.
Contrary to his heat run the previous week when he was slowly away from box three, he flew the start, quickly crossed to the front and from then on was never headed, eventually running out a 3¾ length winner in 29.90 seconds – eclipsing Mojito Mayhem’s 2015 race record of 29.99 seconds. Point proved.
So it was back-to-back Anniversary Cups for Stanley, while dead-heating for second were the Miller-trained Kolora Posie and Chilly Kiss, the irony of the result perhaps not lost on either trainer.
However, Miller would have been pleased with Kolora Posie who turned in a huge effort, coming from a long way back, while Chilly Kiss continued her consistent form which sees her currently leading in the Greyhound of the Year award.