Tuesday, February 19, 2019
It was only a few weeks ago that Portland greyhound trainer Nicole Stanley was lamenting the fact that she really didn’t have anything for this year’s Group Listed Fairthorne Forestry Mount Gambier Cup.
But her stocks, as far as the cup is concerned, received something of a boost at Sunday’s Tara Raceway meeting when Wanchai Express ran out a seven length winner over the odds-on Cryer’s Plugger in the Greg Martlew Autos Stake (512 metres).
An impressive margin against a greyhound that had gone around Tara Raceway the previous week in 29.58 seconds and certainly an impressive winning time of 29.46 seconds – the fastest run at the track since Rockoon’s record-breaking 29.28 seconds last July.
At odds of $34, it’s probably fair to say that even Stanley didn’t see this win coming. Race caller Ray Fewings, generally good for an on-air quote or two, obviously didn’t either when he asked “was I calling the right dog or in fact the right race?”
Wanchai Express is raced by Adelaide owner Les Stewart who sent the son of Bit Chili and 15-race winner Aunty Chopper (also owned by Stewart) to Portland last August after the 36 kilogram black dog had won four races on Adelaide tracks.
Sunday’s win was his first at Tara Raceway since last October although Stanley had been successful with him at Warrnambool in December and at The Meadows the following month, Wanchai Express now nominated for Sandown Park tomorrow night.
“A run at Sandown Park should give us a fair idea of where we’re at with him,” she said. “Although, to be fair, his form leading into last Sunday’s race hadn’t been all that bad considering that at his past four starts he had raced at The Meadows and then three times at Angle Park’s Thursday night meetings.”
Earlier in the day, Stanley was also successful with Verev in the Winmore Greyhound Kennels Stake (512 m), the black dog taking the lead on the first turn before running away to a 4½ length win over the consistent Big Rough in 30.06 seconds.
Verev, who carries a US damline on his sire’s side through General Destini, is out of the US-bred dam Chasin The Dream, Sunday’s win his first over 512 metres at Tara Raceway since he defeated Bomber Creek in late March last year.
He was a finalist in last year’s Mount Gambier Cup after running second to Lektra Stomp in a heat, Stanley saying he was likely to line up again in this year’s cup, heats of which will be run on Sunday, March 24 and the final a week later.
For Stanley, the 2017 Mount Gambier leading trainer and runner-up last year to Tracie Price, Sunday’s double was her first at Tara Raceway since November 18 when she was successful with Miss Patchouli and Oh No Beta.