Thursday, March 15, 2018
Greyhound racing in Mount Gambier has come a fair way since Tara Topar picked up $500 for connections after winning the inaugural Mount Gambier Cup, run over 479 metres at Glenburnie in 1981.
Sunday’s 38th Mount Gambier Cup, these days run over 512 metres, at Tara Raceway will be the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s first Group Listed race and with total prizemoney of $22,000 the richest greyhound race ever conducted in Mount Gambier.
From a locally bred, owned and trained point of view there will be plenty of interest in Blazing Moment and Galactic Panther, in the hands of long-time participants Tracie Price and Steve Bartholomew – both still chasing their first Mount Gambier Cup success.
And then of course there’s the great story surrounding Print The Money, trained at Avalon in Victoria by Michelle Mallia-Magri but bred and owned locally by Don Gordon, Ward and Diesel Leicester, Rohan Von Stanke and Dion Pannenburg under the banner of the Southern Bar Boys Syndicate.
The exuberant syndicate, desperate to win the home-town cup, had worked hard to convince Mallia-Magri to contest the event with Print The Money, runner-up in last December’s Group 1 Hobart Thousand.
Actually, husband John Magri, speaking after last Sunday’s outstanding heat win, said that they had known little of the Mount Gambier Cup until reading on the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing website that the owners had been keen for the dog to come to Mount Gambier for the cup.
Favourite for the cup, despite drawing box five, will be Lektra Stomp, a dog that had been threatening to break the Tara Raceway track record for a few weeks and finally did so in his cup heat with a run of 29.45 seconds.
Lektra Stomp is trained at Toolong by Phil Lenehan who had a finalist in the 2010 cup and will be looking to emulate the success of his father Brian in 1993 with Immortal Flash. A nice touch would be to see Lenehan snr on track for Sunday’s Listed race.
Jeff Guy, the Horsham publican-turned greyhound trainer, returns for a second crack at the cup with Paraphernalia, a wonderfully durable greyhound that will line up for start number 99 on Sunday. After a personal best 29.71 seconds heat win maybe he’s not a year too late.
Megellas Fairy is back for the final for Nambrok trainer Lyn Smith who took over the training of Fabregal after her Mount Gambier Cup win last year. Smith has been training Megellas Fairy for several months for Traralgon owner Terri-Maree Morris, no stranger to big race success through the deeds of Jesaulenko, a winner of $400,000 in prizemoney.
Box one runner Xtreme Caution is drawn to run a bold race for the Portland-based Brian Weis who is the only trainer in the final’s line-up to have previously won a Mount Gambier Cup – with Drone in 2009. And another Portland trainer, Nicole Stanley, who rolled the dice with last week’s $60 chance Verev, has found herself with a finalist for the second consecutive year following Berry Bling in 2017.
Prizemoney break down for Sunday’s cup is $15,000, $4000, $2000 with unplaced runners receiving $200. The winner will also receive a service to the Group 1 winning champion Worm Burner, donated by Cameron and Yvonne Butcher.
With the grassed surrounds of Tara Raceway looking immaculate, excellent catering, TAB and bar facilities, a free pick 6 and children’s playground, along with some outstanding greyhounds racing for record prizemoney, the Mount Gambier Cup is certainly the best meeting of the year.
If you didn’t know there was even a greyhound track on Lake Terrace East, or if you only intend taking in one greyhound meeting this year, then Sunday’s 12-race programme is the one to be at.
Pictures: Todd’s Photographics