Mumbannar-based Monty Wilson, a “hobby” trainer, who not so long ago had been more than happy to average a winner a month at Mount Gambier’s Tara Raceway greyhound track, has this year taken his involvement to a whole new level.
And it’s an involvement that goes back to 2008 when the former harness racing trainer picked up a greyhound called Midnight Madness.
“I still remember her well,” Wilson said. “By Collision out of Moonlight Song, she came down from Bundaberg as a giveaway. Interestingly, I’ve been working with giveaway greyhounds pretty well ever since.
“Anyway, she was my first greyhound and my first winner when successful at Tara Raceway over 277 metres in a time of 16.74 seconds in September 2009.”
With 30 winners this year, and with Sianna Magic and Saint Charlotte both sitting in the Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year top 10, this has been by far Wilson’s best season.
Certainly somewhat better than last year when Covid restrictions severely curtailed his activities at the Mount Gambier track.
“Living just over the border in Victoria I was unable to get over to gallop my dogs at the Tara Raceway slipping track – something I do on a regular basis – or race them at the Mount Gambier meetings. So I was virtually hamstrung,” Wilson said.
“But later in the year when it appeared as though the borders would soon re-open I made contact with an old mate of mine, Dennington greyhound man Ray Drew, to see if he could find another dog for me.
“Ray soon came up with a well-bred daughter of Premier Fantasy x Smooth Momentum, an unraced maiden giveaway that he had sourced from Victoria. She now races as Sianna Magic and has won eight races and run 10 minor placings from 22 starts.”
And it was Sianna Magic who brought up a treble for Wilson at Thursday’s Tara Raceway time-graded meeting. Leading all the way in the Trackside Meats 5+Wins Stake (400 metres), she hung on to defeat Midnight Daisy by a nose in 23.16 seconds.
Kicking off Wilson’s most successful day ever at the track was Santino Gold who he races in partnership with local owner and long-time mate Kevin Jones. The pair also races litter brother Simeon Star who last month strung together two wins in the space of a week.
Lining up from box one at start number 12 in the Rock’s Tavern Maiden Stake (400 m), Santino Gold chased Miss Nala for much of the journey before finishing the stronger for a half length win in 23.78 seconds.
The St Arnaud-bred giveaway brothers found their way over to Wilson’s five acres property in May after being classed as not up to Victorian standard.
Saint Charlotte supplied the middle leg of the treble with an impressive all-the-way win over Tsunami Fire in the Hyland Fox 5+Wins Stake (400 m) in 23.18 seconds.
By Lightning Frank, the winner is out of Jasmine Lilly, the daughter of Oaks Road x Saint Dellsy a winner of four races at Tara Raceway and trained for much of her 102-starts career by John Cameron of Penshurst.
And what of the highlights Monty and his wife Jen have enjoyed with their greyhounds at Tara Raceway over the past dozen years or so?
“Well, when the majority of your greyhounds are giveaways the highlight usually is when one of them wins a race,” said the laid-back Monty Wilson.
“We did have a bit of fun with Charley Arabali back in 2015 when she won several races here in quick time before going to Melbourne. Mind you, she wasn’t quite as quick as her brother, Bruce Tycoon, who won 36 races and something like $270,000 in stakemoney.
“And in 2017 we won the Ivor Dowdell Memorial with Lektra Excess and in 2019 the John Reid Memorial with Cimarron Magic.”
Also, it’s probably fair to say that Thursday’s treble would go down as a highlight. Especially considering the generally camera-shy Jen Wilson felt it important enough to join in for a photograph of the winning team.
A team that comprises a trainer who travels countless kilometres to make sure his greyhounds receive the galloping they require. Plus a wife who works tirelessly behind the scenes, rarely missing a meeting when the Mumbannar dogs are racing. And Jonesy, always willing to lend a hand.
Top picture: Monty (left) and Jen Wilson and Kevin Jones with the winning treble.