Allendale East trainer David Peckham will be chasing back to back Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cups when Aston Ziebell lines up in Sunday’s 512 metre final at Tara Raceway.
Owned by Ray Borda, the son of Aston Kimetto x Aston Dinnigan has been in Peckham’s kennels for 18 months, during which time he has won 29 races.
Jumping from box seven in last Sunday’s first of two heats, Aston Ziebell virtually led all the way when defeating Mister Banjo by four lengths in 29.50 seconds.
And not only will Peckham be chasing his second consecutive Christmas Cup with Aston Ziebell he will also be looking to improve on his already impressive record in the end of year feature event – first run in December 2011.
He won the inaugural cup with Napoleon Wiz who defeated Going Home in 30.20 seconds before being successful again two years later with Bourne Again who ran down Flaming Gold in 30.41 seconds.
Then, in 2019, the Peckham-trained Squishy Pea defeated Compton trainer Tracie Price’s Adelaide Cup Consolation winner Smart Knocka by two lengths in 29.63 seconds – at the time a race record.
Last year it was Aston Ziebell who led Price’s multiple record breaker Giant’s Flash going out of the first turn and was never headed when defeating the odds-on favourite in a race record 29.34 seconds.
Price will be chasing his fourth Christmas Cup winner after Who’s Doing What was successful in 2014 and Fear The Rascal backed up the following year. Golly Gumdrops then won the cup in 2020.
Representing Price in Sunday’s final will be Mister Banjo, a gallant second to Aston Ziebell, and Whiskey Chaser who finished in fourth spot behind Oh Louise in the second heat which was won in 29.84 seconds.
Coming into the race on the back of four consecutive seconds at Tara Raceway, Oh Louise settled in third spot early before unwinding a powerful run off the back and storming home for a 6¾ length win over Here To Burn.
A winner of 14 races, Oh Louise is a daughter of Barcia Bale and prolific producer Molly Be Nimble. The blue fawn bitch is owned and trained at Meningie by Tim Richards who is no stranger to feature race success at the Mount Gambier track.
And the Richards trained Coorong Cam – Oh Louise’s litter brother – shrugged off an aberration of the previous week when carving out a quick 22.86 seconds in heat two of the Santa Sprint (400 m) and defeating Gladki by 4¼ lengths.
The Kerry Hawker owned and trained Nero Valentino, who turns five years old on Christmas Day, put in a terrific effort in the first heat of the Santa Sprint at what was his 112th race start – 46 of those coming this year.
Away slowly from box one, the son of Fernando Bale and Sweet Barbados never left the rails before finishing strongly for a 1¼ length win over Current Model in 23.11 seconds.
In what has been a remarkable year for the black dog, Nero Valentino has won seven races and recorded 21 second placings and nine thirds – more than enough to clinch the 2023 Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year award.
Complementing the Christmas Cup heats day were two heats of the Peter Whitehead Memorial Maiden (400 m), first run in 2019 when won by the Price-trained Elle Limes who defeated kennelmate Tandiki.
Price won the memorial again the following year with Sally Limes. Winners since have been Nifty Lenehan’s Smiling Stan and Robert Halliday’s Compton Robbie.
The Peckham-trained Bourne Sid, a son of Superior Panama and Sweet On Me, after finding plenty of trouble early in the first heat at start number five, stormed home from well back for a narrow win over Aston Zeppelin and Yesterday’s Hero in 23.80 seconds.
And in heat two, first starter Princess To Burn led all the way from box four for Hamilton trainer Kyle Goodwin when winning by 2¾ lengths in 23.66 seconds.
By Fernando Bale, the blue bitch is out of the unraced giveaway Princess Kiwi who is now with Goodwin and his mother Lorraine, a Tara Raceway regular.
“We reared Princess To Burn on a one for one basis but eventually ended up with both the pups. The other one hasn’t yet raced,” Kyle Goodwin said.
“Most of the litter has been named but so far only two have raced – Princess To Burn and a dog called Ferness who has had two starts at Goulburn for two wins.”