Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Carrying the same surname as the New Zealand racing driver, Glencoe greyhound Van Gisbergen finally found top gear at Tara Raceway last Friday.
Contesting the second heat of the Gambier Vets Feature Grade Five (512 metres), Van Gisbergen turned in a dominant performance from box seven to lead all the way for a 5¼ length win – his first in four months – over Shannah’s Might in a best of day 29.92 seconds.
It’s probably fair to say that neither trainer Barry Shepheard nor owners Tim Aloisi and Matt Lehman had seen this win coming after the black dog, despite trialling well, had failed to really flatter at his first three Tara Raceway race starts.
By Magic Sprite out of Black Sambuca – a half-sister to Blonde Caviar, the dam of the “McIvor” dogs – Van Gisbergen arrived in the South-East in early January after having won two 520 metre races at Lismore and two over the 610 metre journey at Grafton.
But he also arrived with three strikes against his name, subsequently cleared, although only up to 599 metres.
“He’s run a pretty handy 35.46 seconds for the 610 at Grafton (the record is 34.89 seconds) so I wouldn’t mind getting him in a 600 metre event at Tara Raceway,” Shepheard said.
“The only problem is he still has to run a satisfactory trial over that distance and I’m struggling to find a few runners to go around with him in order to satisfy stewards’ requirements.”
And perhaps it’s Tara Raceway, one of only two tracks in Australia to conduct racing behind the finish-on-lure, that has assisted Van Gisbergen to find winning form again.
As Bruce Teague, writing in Australian Racing Greyhound, noted: “The FOL allows the dogs to complete their mission. Chasing is what they are all about. With the FOL they can succeed in that. With a conventional lure system, they can’t. Why wouldn’t they chase better with the FOL? It makes for a fun afternoon for them.”
Joining Van Gisbergen and Shannah’s Might in Sunday’s $2100 Gambier Vets final will be Sweeney Miss and Master Tron.
Mount Gambier owner-trainer Ken Feltus landed his first Tara Raceway win this year when Lil Arthur defeated Cee Rose Black, Brazen Beau and Anti Dentite in heat one of the feature grade five.
Away well from box four, Lil Arthur couldn’t match the early pace of Brazen Beau but took over the running down the back straight and held off a fast finishing Cee Rose Black and the early leader to win by a half length in 30.50 seconds.
The winner, a four-year-old by Cosmic Chief out of Ocean Magic – a litter sister to 2012 Mount Gambier Cup winner Rich Shiraz – has now won 13 races overall with two for Feltus who took over the black dog late last year.
And while his winning time was somewhat slower than Van Gisbergen in the second heat, Feltus was more than happy with the effort.
“Lil Arthur had been finding plenty of trouble in 400 metre events so I decided to bite the bullet and try him for the first time over the 512 metre journey,” he said.
“He hadn’t trialled over the distance or even trialled post to post so I reckon he’s still got a bit of improvement in him.”
The minor placegetters’ trainers wouldn’t have been too disappointed with the efforts of Cee Rose Black and Brazen Beau, either.
Cee Rose Black, which hadn’t run a place since last winning at Tara Raceway back in late January, pleased Portland trainer Andy Graham with the manner in which she finished off the race.
And Brazen Beau, another one having her first start over 512 metres, surprised Team Williams by the manner in which she battled on in the home straight, going down by only 1½ lengths.
Time-wise it’s hard to go past Van Gisbergen in Sunday’s final although the box draw hasn’t done him too many favours as he’ll jump from the six.
The David Peckham trained Anti Dentite and Ralph Patzel’s Master Tron, short-priced favourites in their respective heats, scraped into the final after both running fourth.
But they’ve drawn well – Anti Dentite in one and Master Tron next to him – boxes that both greyhounds have excellent records from.
Despite disappointing in last week’s heats, they both performed extremely well at Mount Gambier Cup time and a repeat of that sort of form should see them right in the mix.
The Gambier Vets Feature Grade Five final is one of the highlights of what looks to be another outstanding 12-race card at Tara Raceway on Sunday.
Three Mount Gambier Cup finalists – Thanks Captain, Colden Girl and Hutch – return for the meeting with the Peckham-trained Thanks Captain, well boxed in the eight in the Allestree Holiday Units Mixed Stake (512 m), taking on Hit The Runway who will be attempting to win three straight at the track for Nicole Stanley.
Colden Girl, trained by Bea Bryant, will take on a pretty handy field from box eight in the Produce Store Mixed Stake (512 m) while Robert Halliday’s Hutch, who will race at Warrnambool tomorrow night, doesn’t look too badly placed in the Klaassens Contractors Stake (512 m).