Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club

Tara Raceway, Lake Terrace East, Mount Gambier, SA

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Tara Raceway regulars chasing first cup success

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Worrolong trainer Steve Bartholomew was at the first Mount Gambier Cup, back in 1981 at Glenburnie. In fact, he’s been at every cup – all 38 of them.

But he’s still looking for his first cup success, a greyhound called Habit, a grandson of the inaugural winner Tara Topar, giving him his first finalist in 1993 when running seventh behind Immortal Flash.

Steve Bartholomew (left) and Robert Chuck with their top local cup hope Galactic Athena.

In 1996 he reached Glenburnie’s last cup final with Moorak Flyer who ran fourth behind Colin Ian prior to finishing sixth to Ashanti Gem at the Lake Terrace East venue’s inaugural cup the following year.

Also into the 1997 final for Bartholomew was Charles, a son of Knockash Chief and Habit’s litter sister Tara Pixie. Then, in 2001, So Gentle ran a two length third behind Explosive Doll in what was then a race record 30.24 seconds.

It would be 16 years before he reached another Mount Gambier Cup final, this time in last year’s first Group Listed event with Galactic Panther, a son of Galactic Rumball, a bitch that had been bred at Worrolong.

Raced by long-time mate, Robert Chuck of Moorak, Galactic Panther, the youngest and least experienced of all the finalists, ran a great third in the final behind Xtreme Caution and Lektra Stomp.

Fast forward 12 months and Chuck and Bartholomew are back for another crack at the cup, this time with Galactic Panther’s half-sister Galactic Athena – lining up in Sunday’s final at an even younger age and, with only five starts to her name, even less experience.

The 19-month-old brindle bitch faces a tough test in Sunday’s final from box two. But she could well be something special and as far as Bartholomew is concerned worth waiting 39 years for.

Portland trainer Nicole Stanley will rug up her fourth consecutive Mount Gambier Cup finalist on Sunday with Wanchai Express who will jump from box seven.

Old Jock, a Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year, was unplaced in 2016 as were Berry Bling, an SA Country Cup winner, and Verev in the following two cups.

Wanchai Express pictured with trainer Nicole Stanley.

But Stanley’s involvement in the cup goes back somewhat further, Wagsalini, a daughter of Trousers and Rokana, running sixth behind Bay Rhode in 2004 and Waymy (Rating One x Gemtrea Pixie) seventh to Ripin Ruby the following year.

Wanchai Express, who found his way over to Portland in August last year after having previously been racing in Adelaide, has been something of an enigma although Stanley said she believed the black dog was now racing better in a field.

“There was a time when he wouldn’t go around a dog but would wait for a rails run that often never came,” she said. “But he has shown this year that he has plenty of ability after running 29.46 seconds at Tara Raceway.”

By Bit Chili, Wanchai Express is out of Aunty Chopper, a winner of 15 races and $26,000 and who traces back to Miss Cleopatra on the dam’s side as does fellow cup finalist Pure White Evil.

Aunty Chopper, these days a family pet, was raced by Adelaide owner Les Stewart, who also owns Wanchai Express. A long-time stalwart, he first became interested in greyhound racing when it was being conducted in Whyalla.

“I used to enjoy also taking in meetings at Port Lincoln and Port Pirie,” he said. “Now, disappointingly, I see that Port Augusta is also to close this year.

“I really enjoy the country racing and I’m hoping to be able to get down for Sunday’s final and cheer on Wanchai Express.”

Stewart leased out Aunty Chopper for her Bit Chili litter, taking a pup in return which turned out to be Wanchai Express, a winner of four races in Adelaide before joining Stanley’s kennels from which he has won a further six races at The Meadows, Tara Raceway and Warrnambool.

Big Casey is Cap Abbott’s third Mount Gambier Cup finalist.

Cap Abbott, of Edenhope, is in to his third Mount Gambier Cup final, this time with Big Casey, raced by one of his long-time owners in John Dihm in partnership with Craig Sheridan.

His cup involvement goes back to 2007 when Cape Arrow ran second to Army Officer prior to one of her offspring in White Arrow finishing unplaced in Kirkstall Jane’s 2010 cup.

A former NSW greyhound, who at one stage early in his career raced at a hefty 41 kilograms, the son of My Bro Fabio x Book Of Days has won four races at Angle Park and Tara Raceway since joining Abbott’s kennels in November.

Big Casey is into the final from box six after running a pretty handy second to Slingshot Hammer, Abbott saying that he is happy with the draw and keen to talk up the dog’s chances for Sunday.

“For sure, I’m happy enough with box six. I reckon he’ll stay out wide, scout around them on the first turn after there’s interference on the inside and then finish the race off well for a top three finish.

“Look, we’re in there and he’s a good dog. He’s been set for the Mount Gambier Cup and now we’re in the final. I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

And while Abbott is yet to win a Mount Gambier Cup, he can lay claim to Melbourne Cup success, winning the 1974 event at Sandown Park with the NZ-bred Kwik Metal, purchased as a pup for $30.

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