Newman McDonnell was there at the public meeting held in the Mount Gambier City Hall on September 14, 1972 to form the SE Greyhound Racing Club.
In fact, it was on that night that he was elected to the committee, along with R. Clark, J. Cruise, E. Lewis, J. O’Brien, J. O’Connor, C. Potter, A. Steele, J. Taylor, J. Walters, R. White, J. Sullivan and B. Wittwer.
And almost seven years later he was president of the club when greyhound racing commenced in the south east at the Glenburnie race track.
But his involvement in the sport had begun long before that public meeting. In fact, in 1964 he had owned the inaugural winner of the Sandown Laurels – Tara Princess – a daughter of Chief Zephyr and Oliveen.
He also owned the inaugural Mount Gambier Cup winner, Tara Topar, successful in 1981 at Tara Raceway, the track that was named after the “Tara” prefix that many of his greyhounds carried. And the name that also carried over to the current-day track on Lake Terrace East.
Newman McDonnell died on November 15, 1985 at the age of 81.
Twelve months later the first Newman McDonnell Memorial race was conducted over 476 metres. Fittingly, it was won by a terrific greyhound called Kenzel Lad, a son of Satan’s Shroud x Gaylee Rose, who also won the inaugural Anniversary Cup.
Subsequent memorials run at Glenburnie were won by Bozie Flyer, Irkanda Leo, Invercoe Riot, National Ribbon, Foxtrot Oscar, Bush Pepper, Larradinya, Wild Welcome, Colin Ian and Ashanti Gem.
Racing switched to Lake Terrace East in 1997 but it wasn’t until 2012 that Sky Racing and TAB betting arrived at Tara Raceway. It was in that year that John Cameron of Penshurst won the 512 metres memorial with Camo’s Lucky.
Glenroy trainer Richard Clayfield won the event with the enigmatic Glenville Jester in 2016 in what was part of a barnstorming two months of racing for the black dog who won seven races and ran two seconds.
Lektra Stomp, a former Tara Raceway 512 metres track record holder, was successful in 2017 in race record time of 29.69 seconds for Brian Lenehan of Toolong.
And another local trainer in Tracie Price, after winning the McDonnell Memorial with Teddy La Plume in 2010, was again successful in 2018 with $13 chance Banjo Lass.
Killarney owner-trainer Kevin Mugavin won last year’s event with Spring Value who signalled his intentions with a 29.56 seconds heat win before giving his rivals a start and a beating in the following week’s final.
Heats of the 35th memorial will be run on Thursday, November 19 with the final the following week.
As far as the Newman McDonnell Memorial is concerned, Price probably summed it up best at the 2018 presentation.
“Those of us involved in greyhound racing today owe a great debt of gratitude to people such as Newman McDonnell. I’m sure he would be suitably impressed at the progress that has been made since racing commenced all those years ago at Glenburnie.”