Leading local trainers David Peckham and Tracie Price ended the year on a high note at Tara Raceway last Thursday afternoon.
Five winners for Peckham saw him finish the year with a local total of 134 and for the second consecutive year take out the Ian Badger Leading Trainer award.
The 46-year-old Peckham landed eight trebles in 2020. Seven times he trained four winners in a day, five on five occasions and an all-time best of six on February 16 with Bourne Maximum, Call Me Billy, Fabs You Go, Squishy Pea, Dyna Carnie and Bourne Blackjack.
Highlight of last Thursday’s meeting was the Newman McDonnell Memorial final (512 metres), rescheduled from November but still able to continue its yearly running since the 1980s – although only just given that it was New Year’s Eve.
Peckham, who had won the McDonnell Memorial with Bourne Again in 2013 and 2014, held a strong hand in the final with Midnight Daisy, High Kings and Rajasthan, the latter chasing a win to take his stake earnings over $400,000.
But it was Midnight Daisy who went straight to the front from box two, leading all the way to defeat Rajasthan by three lengths in 30.12 seconds. Nitro Yap battled on well for third while United Lass ran a fair sort of race for a 100/1 shot when finishing fourth.
At 25.9 kilograms there’s not a lot of Midnight Daisy, although she displayed plenty of tenacity when bringing up her sixth win from only 15 starts. And being a January 2019 whelping she will be well placed in next month’s Summer Classic (512 m).
The daughter of Fernando Bale x Midnight News was purchased prior to racing from Clergate (NSW) breeder David Pringle by Ross Schurgott’s Nineofus Syndicate along with Peckham, Jason Newman and Kevin “KD” Douglas.
Peckham also took out the Swallow Drive Meats grade five final (400 m) with Shima Breeze who led all the way to defeat Ton Eighty by 3½ lengths in a quick 22.97 seconds – the daughter of Fernando Bale x Shimaguni running 22.99 seconds in a heat the previous week.
Wrapping up a big day – let’s make that a big year – the leading trainer then won the final race of the year with Malcolm Keenan’s Keen One who led all the way for a 3¾ lengths win over kennelmate Angelo’s Entity in 23.00 seconds in the Trackside Meats Open Stake.
It was also a big year for the son of Dyna Villa x Precious Prize, the black dog winning 11 races at Tara Raceway and finishing only two points short of shared Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year honours.
Boombox Shelby brought up a treble for Price, 57, in the Bartholomew Pick 6 Stake (400 m) when taking over from Cryptic Signal off the back and storming home for a 4¼ lengths win in 23.73 seconds.
It was something of a milestone win, Boombox Shelby giving the Compton-based trainer his 100th Tara Raceway winner for the year.
Many of his winners this year have been bred at Compton, including his earlier two last Thursday – Smokey River and Sally Limes, a recent winner of the Peter Whitehead Memorial (400 m).
From a leading dam point of view it was Headline who finished in front for Karen and Tracie Price with 26 winners at the local track while another of their bitches in Miss Freelove ended up with 22 after leading for much of the year.
Locally, Headline’s progeny includes Tandiki, Rocketline and Falcon Heavy while Miss Freelove is the dam of 2020 Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year Perseverance and Vossy.
Once again the McDonnell family threw their support behind the memorial.
Newman McDonnell’s daughter, Margaret Considine, spoke in glowing terms of the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club and its track, Tara Raceway – so named after the prefix “Tara” that her father used when naming many of his greyhounds.
Also joining the family this year was Mrs Considine’s daughter, Adelaide-based Jane Edwards, pleasantly surprised to see a picture of herself in the club’s memorabilia section. This was as a young girl when she had been at a coursing meeting with her parents.
And Yahl race horse trainer Peter Hardacre and his team at Hardacre Training added even further to the atmosphere when spending an enjoyable afternoon at the dogs.
Quite simply, the MGGRC couldn’t have hoped for a better meeting to mark the end of what had been a chequered 2020 season.