Glencoe-based trainer Dean Fennell, racing greyhounds at the Lake Terrace East-located Tara Raceway since its opening in January 1997, is confident Saint Tommy can measure up in next month’s Carlin & Gazzard $10,000 Summer Classic (512 metres).
Second only to the Group 3 Mount Gambier Cup in monetary value, the 2024 Summer Classic is a non-penalty event for all greyhounds whelped on or after January 1, 2022.
By Tommy Shelby, a winner of 31 races and more than one million dollars in prize money, out of Mepunga Prue, Saint Tommy is owned at Koroit by Peter Byrne who also bred the black and white dog.
Fennell took over the training of Saint Tommy in October. He has now won two races over 400 metres at Tara Raceway with the trainer yet to step him out over 512 metres.
“I was pretty happy with his most recent win when he clocked 23.12 seconds,” Fennell said. “From a Summer Classic age point of view he’s certainly well placed given he was whelped in January 2022. And I certainly don’t believe the 512 metres will be an issue.”
Interestingly, it was back in 2019 that Fennell was involved with the Summer Classic winner Banjo Bad Boy. He took over the training after the son of Banjo Boy x Banjo Bewdy had won his heat for Compton trainer Tracie Price.
A $21 chance, Banjo Bad Boy won the final in 30.13 seconds from Rose Ali and the 18-month-old Galactic Athena who generated tremendous interest when winning a heat at only her second race start in a time of 29.61 seconds.
First run in 2015, the Summer Classic is a series relatively rich in short-term history, helped in no small way by the Robert Chuck and Steve Bartholomew owned and trained Galactic Athena who only a month later won the Mount Gambier Cup.
The inaugural Summer Classic was won by Cryer’s Ricky, owned and trained by Margaret and Tom Cryer of Apsley. Cryer’s Ricky, who had gained a run in the final as a reserve, later contested the Mount Gambier Cup final won by Lots Of Yap.
Cryer’s Ricky was from the first of two successive Spring Gun x Cryer’s Midget litters that also included Cryer’s Fred, Cryer’s Jack, Cryer’s Plugger and Cryer’s Bob. These litters made a significant contribution to local racing between 2015 and 2019.
The following year, Menzel Boys, raced by Langhorne Creek owner-trainer Tony Hinrichsen – still a Tara Raceway regular – defeated Cairnlea Lewis in 30.01 seconds.
Menzel Boys, a son of Dyna Tron and Fighting Fury, the following month ran third in the Mount Gambier Cup to Mojito Mayhem – the greyhound scratched the previous year from the Summer Classic when eventual winner Cryer’s Ricky gained a start.
In 2017, the Robert Halliday trained Hutch defeated Blitz And Bolt in the classic before reaching the Mount Gambier Cup final won by Fabregal three weeks later.
And the following year Chuck and Bartholomew had combined with Galactic Athena’s older half-brother Galactic Panther (Milldean Panther x Galactic Rumball) to narrowly defeat Dynamite Danger prior to running third behind Xtreme Caution in the cup final.
Other Summer Classic winners have been 2020 Sweet On Me (David Peckham), 2021 Justice For All (Tim Richards), 2022 He’s All Purpose (Tim Richards) and 2023 Honey Rocks (Tracie Price), successful in the inaugural $10,000 classic.