Tuesday, July 7, 2020
In a couple of weeks the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club will celebrate 41 years of racing, first at Glenburnie and since the late 90s at Tara Raceway on Lake Terrace East.
And while this year’s cup – the 36th running – will be something of a low-key affair given that it will be run as a one-off race on Thursday, July 23, it will ensure the continuity of the long-time 512 metres feature event.
The first Anniversary Cup run at the club’s current venue was on Saturday, July 19, 1997 when it was won by the former Adelaide greyhound Becker McLaren who defeated Ashanti Gem by 4½ lengths in a time of 30.28 seconds.
In what was quite a remarkable story, the son of Denver and former top stayer Stone Free had incurred a 12 months suspension for marring (back then referred to as fighting) at Angle Park at the beginning of 1996.
Almost 18 months later, in May 1997, Becker McLaren returned to the track, this time at Tara Raceway and in the kennels of Carpenter Rocks trainer Col Sims who registered three minor placings with the four-year-old black and white dog prior to winning the Anniversary Cup.
Fast forward 17 years and the 2014 Anniversary Cup meeting became billed as the “Million Dollar Meeting” after leading Victorian trainer Robert Britton brought over some of his high-earning greyhounds.
In fact, he left nothing to chance, making the long trip over from Lara to Mount Gambier to trial some of his runners prior to returning for heats and then finals the following week.
Rod Morris of The Border Watch gave the meeting the back page lead in Friday’s edition leading up to the final and Britton did his bit with a treble, including Amadeus Strikes in the Anniversary Cup and Zipping Basil in the Eric Lewis Memorial.
The good greyhounds certainly drew the crowd that day. In fact, there’s probably never been a better meeting at Tara Raceway than the one run on Sunday, July 27, 2014.
While racing had actually commenced at Lake Terrace East in January 1997, it wasn’t until Monday, May 18, 1998 that the complex was officially opened by Allan Scott, Chairman of the Scott Group of Companies.
The opening coincided with the running of the 18th Mount Gambier Cup which was won by Manawartoo, trained by John Drennan of Warrnambool.
Scott praised the work of committee persons – past and present – and in particular that of Des Corcoran and Noel Miller for their effort in securing a suitable site for the new track.
The club’s search for a suitable 11 acre venue close to the city culminated in 26 applications being sent to council before the former site of the Woods and Forests cricket ground in Lake Terrace East was decided upon.
Miller, a key figure in the venue search, told racegoers at the opening that this was their day and that the new track and clubrooms were “something to enjoy for the future”.
Meanwhile, contenders for this month’s Anniversary Cup will clash in what should be a keenly-contested JB Irrigation Mixed Stake (512 m) at Tara Raceway on Thursday afternoon.
Compton trainer Tracie Price, on the back of four winners last week, looks to hold a strong hand with two of his winners from that meeting – Spring Cuervo and Tandiki.
Spring Cuervo is unbeaten at his only two starts at the track, both wins over 512 metres in sub-30 seconds while Tandiki, a 512 metres winner in 29.69 seconds, is unbeaten at her three runs over 400 metres since returning from a spell.
Adding further interest to the race are Perseverance and Rock It Fernando, winners of seven and six races respectively at Tara Raceway for Glencoe trainer Dean Fennell and David Peckham of Allendale East.
Perseverance had no luck on the first turn when running a 1¼ length third over 512 metres a fortnight ago behind Rock It Fernando who last week finished a 1¾ length third to Tandiki.
It will be a busy day for Peckham and his team with the kennel having seven runners at Tara Raceway while Double Vision, Angelo’s Entity and West On Tia will race at Angle Park on Thursday night.
Moorak owner-trainer Jason Newman is also having a throw at the stumps at Angle Park with Like A Slug who will jump from box one in a grade six 512 metres event.