Mary Bridget, the greyhound named after her trainer Steve Bartholomew’s 89-year-old mother, stamped herself as one of the Winter Classic’s most impressive winners with a 9½ lengths win in yesterday’s final at Tara Raceway in near race-record time.
Lining up from box seven in what was the eighth running of the 512 metres age-restricted classic, Mary Bridget took over the running from her kennelmate Galactic Medusa down the back before racing away for a 29.85 seconds win.
Working home for second placing was the Tracie Price trained Starlight Gemma while Galactic Medusa was a further 1¼ lengths back in third spot.
The time was just outside the race record time of 29.84 seconds, recorded by Tony Hinrichsen’s Balboa Fury who defeated his kennelmate Stiff Upper Lip in the 2019 classic. The time also matched that of Price’s 2018 winner Smart Knocka, who defeated the Bartholomew-trained Azumi Ryder.
By the 2005 whelped US sire Flying Stanley, Mary Bridget’s dam is Galactic Cat who, due to seasonal issues, was placed in the Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) program by Moorak breeder Robert Chuck after only the one litter.
A winner of five races, Galactic Cat is by the Irish sire Milldean Panther out of Galactic Rumball’s first litter. One of her brothers was the ill-fated Galactic Panther, raced by Chuck and trained at Worrolong by Bartholomew who remembers the dog well.
“He gave us a Summer Classic win in 2018. After being beaten a nostril by Dynamite Danger in a heat he came out the following week in the 512 metres final and turned the tables by virtually the same margin.
“Then, a month later he ran a 1½ lengths third behind Xtreme Caution and Lektra Stomp in the Mount Gambier Cup.”
Galactic Rumball, a daughter of Cosmic Rumble and Elite Touch, was bred by Bartholomew and picked out as a pup by Chuck who achieved considerably more success with her as a brood bitch than a racing dog.
“She was very well bred with Elite Touch being one of Kevin Mugavin’s line,” Bartholomew said. “And while Galactic Rumball raced only on about 20 occasions for three wins at Tara Raceway it was her two litters that really put her on the map.
“While we never really saw the best of her first litter, there was a fair bit that happened after Chuckie mated her with another import in Paddy Whacker – not the least being Galactic Athena’s memorable 2019 Mount Gambier Cup win over Slingshot Hammer.”
With Mary Bridget’s litter of four being whelped in October 2019, by the time the new year came around Chuck had been keen for Bartholomew and his wife Lee to rear two of the pups on a one-for-one basis.
They settled on a brindle bitch. But it didn’t end there – and often it doesn’t. A big white and brindle dog pup from the litter had also taken Steve’s eye. He decided to purchase it for his wife, ostensibly as a birthday gift.
While she’s still not totally convinced as to the birthday intentions, Arctic Bear, as the pup is now known, has won three races from five starts and was a Winter Classic finalist.
From a classic point of view, with the time-honoured Group 3 SA Oaks and SA Derby to be run over 530 metres next month at Angle Park for greyhounds whelped on or after June 1, 2019, Bartholomew conceded the Oaks was a series worth considering for Mary Bridget.
“Look, normally if I had a dog that had won her past four starts, two of them in sub-30 seconds, then I would be up there in a flash for a $35,000 classic,” he said.
“The problem, though, with Mary Bridget is that she’s not a good traveller. To be honest, she’s flat out making it from Worrolong to Lake Terrace East in one piece. We’ll probably talk about it but at this stage it’s unlikely we’ll take on the Oaks.”
Meanwhile, Lee Bartholomew, who trains and races Rough Pearl in partnership with daughter Elysia, has no qualms about making the trip to Angle Park with their son of Dyna Double One x West On Jorji if qualifying for the SA Country Cup.
“No, a trip to Adelaide certainly wouldn’t worry him because he’s pretty laid back. Our biggest problem will be making our way through as one of the two Mount Gambier qualifiers,” she said.
Maybe. But as indicated by his third successive win yesterday, there aren’t too many greyhounds at the moment racing any better than Rough Pearl at Tara Raceway.
Rough Pearl, purchased as a pup from Lewiston breeder Robin Harnas, led all the way in the Greg Martlew Autos Mixed Stake (512 m) when defeating Shady Past – also attempting to make it three wins in a row – by 5¼ lengths in 29.78 seconds.
The Mount Gambier SA Country Cup heat/s will be run over 512 metres at Tara Raceway on Sunday, September 19. Two representatives each from Mount Gambier, Gawler and Murray Bridge will contest the $7500 final over 530 metres at Angle Park on Adelaide Cup night (Friday, October 8).