Thursday, March 15, 2018
Worrolong trainer Steve Bartholomew still remembers Tara Topar’s win in the first Mount Gambier Cup at Glenburnie back in 1981, no doubt because he handled the dog for the winning trainer who just happened to be his mother-in-law, Joan Cruise.
And while he’s never missed being in attendance at any of the 36 cups that have since followed, he’s still yet to taste glory in his own right.
In fact, it would be another 12 years before he reached the final with a dog called Habit – a grandson of Tara Topar – who ran seventh behind Immortal Flash.
Bartholomew found his way into the 1996 final, the last run at Glenburnie, with Moorak Flyer who ran fourth behind Colin Ian and again the following year at the Lake Terrace East venue with the same dog which ran sixth to Ashanti Gem.
Also into the final in 1997 for him was Charles, a son of Knockash Chief and Habit’s litter sister Tara Pixie, while in 2001 So Gentle ran a two length third behind Explosive Doll in what was then a race record 30.24 seconds.
It then took another 16 Mount Gambier Cups before Bartholomew found himself in contention again, this time with Galactic Panther who will go into Sunday’s final as the youngest and least experienced of all the runners after qualifying with a second behind Paraphernalia last week.
Bred and owned at Moorak by Robert Chuck, Galactic Panther is by Milldean Panther out of Galactic Rumball, a bitch that Bartholomew bred.
“Galactic Rumball is by Cosmic Rumble out of Elite Touch and it was a litter that turned out to be more than handy, with other winners including Azumi Touch, Barnicle and Just Humphrey.
“Azumi Touch has a couple of runners in supporting finals on Sunday, Just Humphrey won a Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year while I reckon Barnicle would have been our best dog ever had it not been for injury.”
Since taking over the training from Chuck in October, Bartholomew has won five races with Galactic Panther, the most significant being a stirring win over Dynamite Danger in last month’s Peter Rocket Summer Classic (512 m).
Four Summer Classics have now been run at Tara Raceway with all the winners subsequently making their way through to the Mount Gambier Cup final the following month – Cryer’s Ricky, Menzel Boys and Hutch in previous years.
“I’m hoping he can buck the trend and become the first dog to win the Summer Classic-Mount Gambier Cup double,” Bartholomew said.
Galactic Panther is two from two from box eight with his trainer more than happy that he’s drawn on the outside.
“I reckon he’s better boxed out wide and hopefully he’ll get a clear run to the first turn. The thing I really like about him is that he just keeps on coming.
“Sunday’s field is pretty hot for a dog with his limited experience but I know when he comes off the track after the race he will have given it his best shot.”