It was the previous Thursday’s time-graded meeting at Mount Gambier’s Tara Raceway and the wins of Black Booker and Yellow And Black that commenced Mount Moriac trainer Kevin Ward’s recent winning run.
The following day he was at Geelong where Tiger’s Twenty – a Tara Raceway winner on January 3 – and Oreo Lady both won. Then, on Monday at Warrnambool, Southern Thunder opened his winning account.
Tiger’s Twenty was again at the track on Tuesday, racing up the straight over 350 metres at Healesville where he brought up his seventh win.
And a couple of days later, at the most-recent Thursday time-graded meeting, Ward’s return to Mount Gambier saw him take training honours with Dodgy Digger, Rower’s Rule, and Swamp Donkey.
Dodgy Digger, a winner at Tara Raceway earlier in the month, was always going to be hard to beat when drawing box one in the Winningformula.net.au Stake (400 metres).
That’s how things turned out, the son of Magic Sprite and Bogie Jewel (a granddaughter of Hall of Famer Bogie Leigh) leading all the way to defeat Not All Over by 4¾ lengths in a personal best time of 23.25 seconds.
Two races later and Ward was confident in Rower’s Rule’s chances in the Gordon Refrigeration Stake (400 m) after the black dog earlier in the month had been beaten only 3½ lengths when finishing fourth at his first look at the track.
“He drew the wrong side of the track when last here,” he said. “He can run a bit, though, and I expect him to perform well today from box one.”
And despite the son of My Bro Fabio and Trixie Diamond finding himself well back early, he finished strongly along the rails in the home straight to defeat Aston Leomie by three-quarters of a length in a handy 23.19 seconds.
Swamp Donkey looked anything like a greyhound that had won only one race from 34 starts when contesting the Rock’s Tavern Stake (512 m).
Fair enough, the blue dog, after being a clear last early, was favoured by first turn interference. However, after taking the lead down the back he eventually ran out an 11 lengths winner in a pretty handy time of 30.10 seconds.
By My Bro Fabio out of the unraced Nova Heart, Swamp Donkey is a half-brother to Tiger’s Twenty and Tiger Time, the latter winning for Ward at Bendigo over 500 metres the following night.
So in the space of just over a week – Thursday, January 21 to Friday, January 29 – he trained 10 winners in two states at five different tracks. At Tara Raceway, he finished with nine winners for the month.
Ward currently has approximately 30 greyhounds in work, some giveaways which predominantly race at time-graded meetings.
“I’m now working with a younger and better crop of dogs than when previously racing at Tara Raceway in pre-Covid days. Giveaway greyhounds play a big role at the time-graded meetings and it’s good that there’s an outlet to keep them in the system,” he said.
Involved in the sport for more than 20 years, Ward has enjoyed his fair share of success over the journey – the highlight so far being Go Wild Jack’s win in the 2007 Group 2 Ballarat Cup (450 m).
Other notable achievements include Greyhound of the Year successes with Exclusion (2005 Ballarat and Warrnambool), Tiger Stress (2006 Ballarat) and Go Wild Kev (2007 Horsham).
Meanwhile, the appropriately named Grand Giveaway brought up her second win for the month at Tara Raceway when leading all the way on Thursday in the Bourne Kennels Stake (400 m) for Mortlake owner-trainer Shaun Baulch.
Originally, it was a case of Ward receiving Grand Giveaway as a giveaway in April last year before winning a maiden in June at Healesville with the daughter of El Grand Senor x Bel Air Mist. He then handed her over as a giveaway to Baulch who has now won a further four races with her.