Saturday, August 27, 2016
Secret Mantra is certainly not your average type of Masters greyhound.
Here he was lining up as a four-year-old in the 400 metre Gambier Vets Masters – for grade five dogs that are 3½ years or older – at Tara Raceway on Friday afternoon with only 26 starts to his name.
These races are generally for the likes of Twistex, only three months older than Secret Mantra but going around for a 171st time when contesting Friday’s Klaassens Contractors Mixed Stake (400 m).
However, being a grade three, Twistex was a fair way off from being eligible for the Masters class. Even further now after leading all the way and bringing up win number 30 and $45,000 in stakemoney for David and Toni Jones of Devon Meadows.
But back to Secret Mantra and his Charlton trainer Kevin Ashton, who landed his fourth Tara Raceway win this month, after the son of Mantra Lad and Dadda Poppa scored a comfortable win against the veterans in what turned out to be a best of day 23.34 seconds.
And according to Ashton, the secret to the white and fawn dog is to run him only at Tara Raceway, hence his limited number of starts.
“The simple fact is that he just won’t go on any other track,” he said. “I’m putting it down to the finish-on-lure. He certainly seems to enjoy chasing the big red lure.
“The only trouble is, of course, being four hours away it is not always convenient to get over here which is disappointing because Jan (Neil) and I really enjoy racing in Mount Gambier.”
Secret Mantra has now won three races – two of those being this month.
Another trainer who reckons the finish-on-lure has worked wonders for his greyhound is Robert Walsh of Koroit.
Walsh was over on Friday for the 400 metre maiden heats and landed his first Tara Raceway winner when Saint Flynn, the only greyhound he is currently training, was successful.
Having only his fourth race start, the well-supported brindle dog looked to be in plenty of bother early before bursting from the pack down the back prior to running out a strong 4¼ length winner in 23.55 seconds.
But, as Walsh explained, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the Peter Byrne-bred March 2014 son of Spring Gun and 13-race winner Real Frosty.
“When he was 12 months old he damaged a shoulder and as a result he spent some months getting over the setback before Peter asked me if I would be interested in having a go with him.
“Probably the best thing I did was to bring him over to Tara Raceway because he had been a little hesitant on other tracks and the finish-on-lure seems to have really brightened him up.”
Prior to Saint Flynn, the last greyhound Walsh had raced locally was Ima Harley which concluded his 86-start career at Tara Raceway on September 25, 2015 at 6½ years of age.
Earlier in the day, Saint Flynn’s litter brother, Saint Fox, put in a big performance for Byrne and Southern Cross trainer Ray Mahony to win the first heat of a maiden 512 metre series.
A short-priced favourite at his past three starts at Tara Raceway, the brindle dog looked like proving a costly conveyance once again after jumping slowly and still well back down the back straight.
But Saint Fox loomed large turning for home and finished too strongly to win by three-quarters of a length in 30.90 seconds.