Wednesday, December 18, 2019
It’s been five years since the Tracie Price trained Who’s Doing What scored an upset win in Tara Raceway’s Christmas Cup (512 metres), the blue bitch leading all the way to defeat a couple of other outsiders in Bourne Again and Galactic Impact in a race record time of 29.77 seconds.
Then, a year later in 2015, the Compton-based Price was successful again with Fear The Rascal who easily accounted for a top cup field that included Upset Boy, Mojito Mayhem, Cryer’s Ricky and Cryer’s Fred.
And last week, Smart Knocka, a son of Knocka Norris and Who’s Doing What, returned to Tara Raceway for the heats of the Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup, seeking to emulate mum’s win of 2014.
It had been an injury-interrupted year for Smart Knocka and a frustrating year for WA part-owners Peter and Andrew Haines who race the blue dog in partnership with Karen Price and also part-own 16-race winner Who’s Doing What.
But after wins at Horsham and Murray Bridge in October and November, Tracie Price believed Smart Knocka had been ready to be stretched out over 512 metres even though he had raced on only eight occasions this year – and how right he was.
Only fairly away from box six in the second heat of the Christmas Cup, he quickly rounded up last year’s winner Hutch – trained at Portland by Robert Halliday – on the first turn before running away to a 4¾ lengths win in a best of day – and personal best – 29.60 seconds.
Smart Knocka and Hutch will line up in the cup final from boxes eight and five respectively, the latter now 4½ years old and also having to overcome his share of setbacks this year as he attempts to become the first greyhound to win back to back Tara Raceway Christmas Cups.
Meanwhile, Who’s Doing What has a 12 months old litter by Fernando Bale to follow and this week was mated with Mepunga Blazer.
Allendale East trainer David Peckham will also be chasing his third Christmas Cup with the Nineofus Syndicate’s Squishy Pea after Napoleon Wiz and Bourne Again had been successful in 2011 and 2013.
A giveaway greyhound, Squishy Pea took the lead off Wanchai Express going into the back straight before running away to a five length win in 29.83 seconds in the first of the two heats.
Through to the final after finishing a five length second, recent Border Challenge representative Wanchai Express is trained at Portland by Nicole Stanley who ran the quinella in the 2017 Christmas Cup with Hit The Runway and Fiorelli Rose.
And Apsley trainer Tom Cryer will be hoping Cryer’s Bob, third in his heat behind Smart Knocka and Hutch, can go one better this year than his litter brother Cryer’s Plugger who ran second to Hutch in the 2018 final.
Peckham also looks to hold a strong hand in the Christmas Challenge (600 m) and the Santa Sprint (400 m) with Dyna Carnie and Usain Insane, destined for retirement prior to finding a new lease of life.
The Christmas Challenge finalists will jump from a new set of trip-start boxes with Dyna Carnie looking extremely hard to beat on the back of a five length win over Polar Missile in 35.01 seconds.
Dyna Carnie is unbeaten in two starts over 600 metres at Tara Raceway, the son of Kelsos Fusileer and Xylia Allen ($743,000 in stakemoney) having raced on 80 occasions for 16 wins and earnings of $90,000.
They don’t come much more durable than Usain Insane – 112 starts and 25 wins with his first start pretty well three years ago to the day. The son of Bekim Bale x Swift Blaze was also a winner over 512 metres at last year’s corresponding Christmas meeting.