By the time the 2012 Mount Gambier Cup came around, long-time local greyhound trainer Allen Williams, by his own reckoning, had provided something like 10 cup finalists.
And when his smart pup Don’t Panic, a daughter of Premier Fantasy and Keep Token, came out on heats day and defeated Dare Devil by six lengths in a best of day 30.02 seconds then surely this was going to be Williams’ year.
Besides, in the previous heat, Don’t Panic’s half-sister Keep Looking had narrowly defeated Rouse Flyer – two runners for Williams and certainly giving him a great chance in the following week’s 512 metres final.
As he had often said, though: “They don’t give the cup away, you have to earn it.” Don’t Panic went into the final as an odds-on favourite but had no luck in the race won by Kevin Mugavin’s Rich Shiraz.
Fast forward six months and Williams renewed a long association with Lewiston trainer Don Turner when litter brothers Lika Gem and Colville joined his Tarpeena kennels. By year’s end the pair had collectively won nine races at Tara Raceway.
In fact, at the final meeting of the year Lika Gem defeated Kiss Me Donkey in the Christmas Cup (512 m) while Colville got up a by a whisker over Galactic Rumball, subsequently the dam of 2019 Mount Gambier Cup winner Galactic Athena.
With the 2013 Trackside Meats Mount Gambier Cup set to be run in March, Williams held high hopes for the Collide x Pampered brothers, although perhaps with a leaning towards his Christmas Cup winner.
And while Lika Gem failed to make the final after finishing third to Crymelon Talon, all was not lost. Two races later Colville chased the seemingly luckless Kiss Me Donkey, finishing hard for a head win and a spot in the final.
As luck would have it, Colville drew the one in the Friday final. Not a bad box for the trainer considering a $4000 first prize was up for grabs and he’d purchased the dog for $70 at the Calcutta which promised a $3000 payout to the winner.
The day was always going to belong to Colville, though, who led throughout to defeat Cassie Billington’s Ima Shoopa Star and the David Peckham trained Baurna Paddy in a time of 30.40 seconds.
Great finish line scenes followed. Hats in the air and all that sort of stuff generally associated with a Williams’ win.
“I’d had my share of success over the years,” Williams said this week. “But winning that Mount Gambier Cup was the greatest thrill I ever experienced in greyhound racing.
“It’s every local trainer’s ambition to win the cup and I have to say there was no prouder person than me when Colville’s name appeared on the Tara Raceway Mount Gambier Cup honour board.”
As an aside, shortly after Colville won the cup, Williams went out and purchased a Toyota Coaster, spotted recently in the driveway of Allen and Ros Williams’ Mount Gambier home – still proudly emblazoned on the front of the van in big bold lettering is Colville Express.
And paying the couple a visit this week was track photographer Bronwyn Nicholson looking for a picture of the Colville Express to place with this article.
“Come in Bronny,” said Allen Williams. “You’re just in time to get your tickets for the Colville Express.”