Wednesday, November 7, 2018
For 73-year-old trainer Kevin Ashton, wins don’t come much better than that at Tara Raceway last Friday when Cement Socks overcame the odds and brought up her first win in 17 months.
Having her first start for three months in the Greyhound-Data.com Stake (400 metres), the daughter of Stagger x Hippy Chic quickly worked into second spot behind Penny La Moment, taking over the running off the back after the leader found trouble and eventually won by three lengths.
Fair enough, this was only a grade five time-graded race and the winning time of 24.10 seconds was nothing special. But as far as Ashton was concerned it was all about the win.
His involvement with the litter – Stagger, a winner of 64 races and more than $200,000 in stakemoney from 137 starts, and Hippy Chic a Sandown Park winner – goes back to late 2016 when he picked up Tipping Woody who early in 2017 won three successive races at Tara Raceway.
A couple of months later Cement Socks joined Ashton’s Charlton kennels after having won six races at Warragul and Traralgon, the black bitch then promptly winning at Tara Raceway and Shepparton for her wily trainer with 43 years’ experience.
And then on a cold winter’s night on June 26, 2017 Ashton and Jan Neil, his partner of 23 years, undertook the 2½-hour drive to Ballarat with Cement Socks who, after looking a winning chance turning for home in the 450 metre event, took a heavy fall.
Ashton takes up the story.
“It was a nasty fall that resulted in a broken leg and initially we rated her no chance of ever racing again. A year later though, somewhat amazingly, she was back on the track, resuming at Horsham before a close-up fourth followed at Tara Raceway.
“But Cement Socks’s third run back turned out to be another disaster when she fractured a metacarpal – here we go again, another three months off prior to last Friday’s return to racing.
“It’s certainly been a frustrating 17 months but it was a great thrill to finally see her win again after we’d put so much work into her.”
And the last word on the Rosemont Syndicate-owned Cement Socks goes to Jan Neil, who declared: “She’s just got so much courage.”
Involved with greyhounds prior to meeting up with Ashton and claiming a combined total of 80 years’ experience between the pair when it comes to the longtails, Neil said one of their better greyhounds in the 1990s was Favoured Spirit, winner of the 1996 Roy Maidment Memorial.
“A couple of other pieces of trivia for you,” Ashton said. “We won the final race at the old Robinvale track with a greyhound called Explosive Law in 2001 and Carrara Lad has been retired.”
By Mantra Lad x Dadda Poppa, Carrara Lad, at Charlton since a three-month-old pup, is one of the oldest winners at Tara Raceway, successful there on June 7 this year when just six weeks short of his sixth birthday.
“While he was certainly no champion, he was a wonderfully sound and durable greyhound that gave us a lot of fun,” Ashton said of Carrara Lad, who raced on 158 occasions for 11 wins and 38 minor placings.