It was in November 1986 when the Newman McDonnell Memorial was first run – a year after the South East Greyhound Racing Club’s first president had died at the age of 81.
And winning the race over 479 metres at Glenburnie was the Millicent greyhound Kenzel Lad who was raced by Ken and Hazel Lane.
By Satan’s Shroud, he was out of Gaylee Rose. Her dam was Dot Davis who won the first race at the Gala Opening Day on Sunday, June 24, 1979 when defeating Snow Polly over 289 metres in the Lucky Dog Maiden.
Kenzel Lad was certainly a worthy winner of the inaugural McDonnell Memorial, still a keenly sought-after grade five event as it approaches its 36th running.
In fact, the memorial is the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s third longest-running feature behind the Mount Gambier Cup (1981 Tara Topar) and the Anniversary Cup (1985 Kenzel Lad).
However, the McDonnell Memorial’s continuity very nearly came to an end last year when border closures and patron restrictions at Tara Raceway resulted in it being unable to be run in its traditional November timeslot.
In the end, with only a “matter of hours to spare”, the 512 metres memorial was run on Thursday, December 31. Local trainer David Peckham’s Midnight Daisy and Rajasthan ran the quinella with the winner recording 30.12 seconds.
Another local trainer, John Little of Kongorong, is looking to go one better this year after falling short by 3¼ lengths in the 2019 final with Scartnamuck Diva who ran second to Spring Value in 30.08 seconds.
A giveaway greyhound after being suspended at Cranbourne for failing to chase, Scartnamuck Diva was giving plenty of cheek down the back straight. And fleetingly, it had appeared as though Little could have been in line for his biggest win at Tara Raceway with the $34 rank outsider.
Next week he will be pinning his hopes on Bungaloo Anne, who has won eight races and run 14 minor placings from 33 starts. Little also bred the white and black bitch – the pick of the Pure Titanium x Bungaloo Sunset litter.
The little-known sire Pure Titanium raced on only 15 occasions for six wins while Bungaloo Sunset (Fear Zafonic x Sun’s Up) has produced 19 winners this year at Tara Raceway from her one litter.
Bungaloo Anne will go into the Newman McDonnell Memorial series in pretty good form, having won three races at Tara Raceway during October – 400 metres in 23.07 seconds and two over 512 metres in 29.84 seconds and 29.85 seconds.