Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Twelve months after becoming the youngest greyhound ever to win the Mount Gambier Cup (512 metres) in a race record time of 29.43 seconds, the locally owned and trained Galactic Athena is back on the cups trail, lining up in a heat of Friday’s Murray Bridge Cup (455 m).
However, as far as Moorak owner Robert Chuck and trainer Steve Bartholomew of Worrolong are concerned it’s been a disappointing 12 months with the daughter of Paddy Whacker x Galactic Rumball suffering significant setbacks along the way.
In fact, since that mighty cup win over Slingshot Hammer at Tara Raceway the August 2017 whelping has raced on only 13 occasions, albeit for six wins at Warrnambool, Angle Park and Murray Bridge.
Off the race track this time around for 40 days, Galactic Athena resumed at Murray Bridge last Sunday night, looking well placed from box one in a grade six event over the cup distance.
And after a slow start she was able to hunt up on the rails, finding clear going turning for home before finishing strongly for a 2¼ lengths win over Ainsley Flash in 25.70 seconds (best 25.64 seconds).
Galactic Athena has drawn box three in the first of six heats to be run on Friday, Querencia, winner of the 2019 Group 3 Howard Ashton at Angle Park, returning after a four-month break but looking to be one of the hardest to beat from box four.
Allendale East trainer David Peckham has five runners in the Group Listed event, three of those – Squishy Pea, Dyna Naitch and Call Me Billy – racing last Sunday night at Murray Bridge.
Squishy Pea, who ran a good race from box eight when finishing second to Dyna Adria, has drawn the outside box again in heat four but things won’t be any easier with the Anthony Azzopardi trained Seal The Deal drawn alongside him.
Seal The Deal, a winner of 14 races and $78,000 in stakemoney, is one of three cup runners Azzopardi – trainer of last Saturday night’s Australian Cup winner Fernando’s Riot and last November’s Melbourne Cup winner Whiskey Riot – has engaged at Murray Bridge.
Call Me Billy, who finished a 4¼ lengths fourth behind Galactic Athena last Sunday night, has drawn box two in the final heat and will clash with Tasmanian chaser Wynburn Lethal, a recent Launceston Cup finalist and a very quick Hobart 450 metres winner at her last start on February 20.
Greyhound Racing SA will continue two bonuses to link both the Daish Irrigation & Fodder Murray Bridge Cup (final on Sunday, March 15) and the Bourne Kennels Mount Gambier Cup (heats Sunday, March 29; final Sunday, April 5).
The bonuses are $5000 if the same dog can win both the cups and a $5000 trainer bonus if the same trainer can win both cups (SA or interstate or different dogs).