Glencoe greyhound trainer Dean Fennell will be chasing his biggest win at Tara Raceway when Saint Maddie lines up in the final of the Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup (512 metres) next Sunday afternoon.
Owned by Peter Byrne of Koroit, Saint Maddie chased Bay Me throughout in the first heat last Thursday, eventually going down by a half length in 30.39 seconds.
A win in the Christmas Cup, first run in 2011, would top off another good year for Fennell who will end the season in third spot in the Ian Badger Leading Trainer award.
Involved in the sport since the introduction of racing at the Lake Terrace East venue back in 1997, this year he has currently trained 36 winners, 46 seconds and 55 thirds.
Saint Maddie, a daughter of Peter Rocket and Miss Lava, has won eight races this year at Tara Raceway, as well as running seven seconds and six thirds, and is still in the mix when it comes to this year’s Mount Gambier Greyhound of the Year award.
She found her way over to Fennell’s kennels in April this year when Victorian trainers were unable to cross the border. Four months later she spent a short time with Lara trainer Brendan Pursell before returning to Glencoe in September.
A Christmas Cup win by Bay Me, a daughter of 2015 Mount Gambier Cup winner Lots Of Yap, would also give Portland owner-trainer Andy Graham his biggest success at the track.
Last Thursday he also won with Bay Me’s litter sister See Nitro who led all the way to defeat Billie Burner by four lengths in the Bourne Kennels Stake (512 m) in a best of day 30.05 seconds.
Ask Me Now, a reserve in this year’s Mount Gambier Cup when trained by Damien Bates, returned for the Christmas Cup heats – this time in the care of Lewiston trainer Scott Feltus.
And the son of Oaks Road x Tarks Nemesis gave them something to chase in the second heat when opening up a big break down the back. But it was Rotate who got up in the last bound to score in 30.11 seconds for another Portland owner-trainer in Robert Halliday.
In a race of changes, the Tracie Price trained Falcon Heavy railed through down the back and held on for a head win over Dynamite Miss in 23.29 seconds in heat one of the Santa Sprint (400 m).
The second heat saw the Steve Bartholomew trained Galactic Zeus take over off the back before going away to a 3¾ lengths win over Raw Luxury in 23.18 seconds.
The past two Santa Sprints have been won by Cryer’s Harper, raced by Tom and Margaret Cryer. They were missing this year, Tom Cryer now in care at Edenhope. Local greyhound racing is the poorer for their absence.