Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Leading local trainer Tracie Price’s win in last Sunday’s Newman McDonnell Memorial final (512 metres) at Tara Raceway came as no real surprise. After all, he supplied half the field, three of them in the top order of betting.
What did come as a surprise, though, was the performance of Banjo Lass, the fourth of Price’s finalists and at double-figure odds after having run just one third placing (to qualify for the final) from five starts over 512 metres.
Generally regarded as a short-courser, the beautifully-bred Banjo Lass – a winner of five races this year at the track over 400 metres – was transferred to Price’s Compton kennels in March by prominent NSW owner Andrew Varasdi.
By Knocka Norris, the March 2016 black bitch is out of Sandown Park and The Meadows winner Banjo Star, a litter sister to Varasdi’s former top chaser Banjo Boy who is now a successful sire.
Not surprisingly, Banjo Lass showed plenty of early pace from box seven in Sunday’s 33rd running of the memorial, matching motors early with another outsider in Rusty Sprocket before finding the front down the back straight and then holding off all challenges to win in 30.06 seconds.
Race favourite was the Price newcomer Shae’s Magic, formerly trained by Ryan Tugwell at Finniss. Also not surprisingly, the 35 kilogram black dog set himself a fair task after settling well back early from box six before working home well out wide to go down by 1½ lengths.
On the pace throughout was Robert Halliday’s four-year-old Brinza who maintained his consistent form with a 2½ length third placing while $41 chance Rusty Sprocket gave plenty of cheek when finishing fourth for Scott Blacksell.
With 128 Tara Raceway winners this year – many bred on his property – Price’s operation is considerable. At the presentation he thanked his team of workers. He thanked the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club and he thanked McDonnell family representatives Margaret Considine and Les McDonnell for their continued support of the race.
“Their support for more than 30 years of the Newman McDonnell Memorial and for the lovely trophy that always comes with the race is really appreciated by owners and trainers,” he said.
“Those of us involved in greyhound racing today owe a great debt to people such as Newman McDonnell. I’m sure he would be suitably impressed at the progress that has been made since racing commenced all those years ago at Glenburnie.”
Price’s race quinella with Banjo Lass and Shae’s Magic was the second time in two years that a trainer has provided the memorial winner and runner-up – only a half-head separating Richard Clayfield’s pair of Glenville Jester and Slipper’s Shadow in 2016.
It was also the second time that Price had won the memorial, Teddy La Plume, a son of Go Wild Teddy x Sun La Girl, successful in 2010.
Handling the presentation on Sunday was Bill Ward, MGGRC life member and president of the club between 1991 and 1997. Ward was also on the South East Greyhound Racing Club committee in 1979 when greyhound racing commenced at Glenburnie and Newman McDonnell was president.
And new to Tara Raceway since the McDonnell family was last at the track is the club’s memorabilia display – of much interest to them and highlighted by black and white considerably enlarged photographs on the back wall featuring participants and greyhounds of a bygone era.