Yesterday’s highly anticipated clash at Tara Raceway between Mount Gambier Cup contenders Giant’s Flash and Rio Hato in the Williams Crane Hire Mixed Stake (512 metres) certainly lived up to expectations.
This was always going to be Giant’s Flash’s toughest test since joining Tracie Price’s Compton kennels in January. Upon arrival, he promptly ran a track record of 29.19 seconds over 512 metres in a time-graded 1-4 wins stake.
The son of Banjo Boy x Navada Flame then followed up with a four length win over promising youngster Lektra Rhino in 29.39 seconds in a grade six event on February 13.
But yesterday’s mixed 4/5 stake was certainly a step up in class given the inclusion of well-performed Victorian bitch Rio Hato, a winner of eight races from only 12 starts.
The race soon developed into a two-dog affair. Rio Hato, a winner of her past three starts over distances ranging from 385 metres to 410 metres, took the lead going into the back straight before quickly opening up a two-length break over Giant’s Flash.
And it wasn’t until the pair hit the home straight that Giant’s Flash found the front before running out a two lengths winner in 29.71 seconds.
With several niggling issues having curtailed Giant’s Flash’s recent racing schedule, Price was quick to check out the black dog’s webbing on a front foot after the race.
“It’s been a bit of an issue for a while,” he said. “But he looks to have pulled up well today and that’s really pleasing. I was also very pleased with the way he stretched out and finished off the race.”
Price said he was still undecided as to whether he would run Giant’s Flash in next week’s heats of the Murray Bridge Cup (455 m) as a lead-up to the Carlin & Gazzard MG Mount Gambier Cup, heats of which will be run on Sunday, April 3.
“I haven’t written off the Murray Bridge Cup with Giant’s Flash or his litter sister Minnie Banjo who recently ran a good second behind Departure Gate over 512 metres. Since then she has won at Murray Bridge and looked good today over 400 metres,” he said.
“There are certainly attractive incentives to tackle both cups so I’ll just have to see what this week brings.”
Rio Hato, who is trained at Wattle Flat by Rosalyn Hume, was handled yesterday by owner Geoff Collins, well known in Australian greyhound racing circles but at Tara Raceway for the first time.
And he was more than happy with the brindle bitch’s first-up run at the track, given the winner’s time of 29.71 seconds.
“I also thought she ran the race out pretty well considering she hadn’t been over this sort of distance since last August,” he said.
“Look, the cup is still on the radar. And there’s a chance I might return with her before the heats to give her another look at the track.”
Collins and Hume established World Class Sires, a decision that stemmed from what they believed to be a need to bring international breeding options to the Australian greyhound scene.
Rio Hato is by the boom US sire Superior Panama out of the 20-race winner Little Bit Sweet.
Meanwhile, Mortlake trainer Peter Crawley will be hoping the Faye Craig owned Mick’s Kimmy can emulate her dam, Mick’s Angel, in the Rock’s Tavern Distance (732 m) – one of the feature events on cup day on Sunday, April 10.
Also owned by Craig, Mick’s Angel was trained at Hopper’s Crossing by Allan Meyer who ventured over to Tara Raceway for the first time back in 2018 with the daughter of Kilty Lad and Seabrook Lass.
A winner of 12 races and more than $85,000 in stakemoney, Mick’s Angel defeated Cryer’s Plugger and Bekim Lucy’s in the cup day distance in a time of 43.94 seconds.
Mick’s Kimmy, third behind New Year Tears over the staying journey the previous week, was still chasing her first win this year when lining up in yesterday’s Metal Worx Stake (732 m) from box five.
Midfield early, the fawn bitch was always travelling well before storming home for a 2¼ length win over New Year Tears in 43.71 seconds. This was her first distance success and took her overall winning tally to four from 82 starts.
The strike rate doesn’t look all that good but as far as Crawley is concerned it’s been a frustrating couple of years with Mick’s Kimmy.
“The biggest problem I’ve had with her in all the time I’ve been training her has been a lack of distance races. But when I was finally able to get her into distance races over consecutive weeks I was pretty confident she would perform well.
“And, to be honest, I thought she was travelling like a winner a long way from home.”