Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Heats of the 2019 Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s Summer Classic (512 metres), for dogs and bitches whelped on or after January 1, 2017, should kick off in sizzling fashion on Sunday afternoon at Tara Raceway.
In a response that would have pleased club officials, the first of three heats will see unbeaten youngsters Rose Ali and Galactic Athena – the only runners in the series to have broken the 30 second barrier – clash from boxes seven and three respectively.
Rose Ali, a March 2017 whelping by My Bro Fabio x Born Ali, is owned by highly successful Warrnambool breeder-owner Noel Mugavin and trained at Allendale East by David Peckham who is probably still pinching himself over a recent phone call he received asking him if he wanted to train the then unraced black bitch.
In the space of three weeks Rose Ali has won her only three races at Tara Raceway, the last one on February 6 in a quick 29.72 seconds which at the time had been the fastest at the track since Rockoon’s record-breaking run of 29.28 seconds back in July last year.
There was an air of expectancy about the track last Sunday when Galactic Athena, a fair lump of a bitch at 31.5 kilograms, headed to the boxes for her first race start with trainer Steve Bartholomew of Worrolong.
This was one of the dogs from the Paddy Whacker x Galactic Rumball litter that from all accounts had been trialling very quick times at the track. Many there last Sunday were aware of that and were keen to have a look at her under race conditions.
And she didn’t disappoint. Quickly away from box eight, Galactic Athena was never going to be beaten, eventually running out a 6¼ length winner over her litter sister Galactic Mojo (lining up in Sunday’s third heat) in 29.74 seconds.
Robert Chuck of Moorak bred and owns both the winner and runner-up. Did we detect just the slightest hint of excitement from Chuckie after the race? Surely not! Well, if we did then Galactic Athena must have the makings of one hell of a dog.
Interestingly, the winning time was the second-fastest maiden run at Tara Raceway, eclipsed only by Greg Board’s Spring Bridge – who certainly went on to bigger and better things – when running 29.63 seconds in the Produce Store Maiden at cup time last year.
Also interesting is the age of the Galactic pair, whelped in August 2017 (a perfect age for the Winter Classic run in August) and giving away up to seven months of age as the youngest dogs to ever contest the Summer Classic. However, as the old saying goes, they’re always old enough if they’re good enough.
Galactic Rumball’s first litter, by Milldean Panther, produced Galactic Panther, winner of the 2018 Summer Classic, Chuck certainly having no regrets in using another imported sire in Paddy Whacker for his bitch’s second, and final, litter.
He was an interesting choice, being Canadian bred, US raced and with a smattering of Australian, Irish, English and US blood. Paddy Whacker, a tough, sound and determined dog, raced 113 times for 37 wins and was a multiple track record breaker.
Adding further interest to heat one of the Summer Classic will be the appearance of Vermouth, a March 2017 son of Barcia Bale and Cocktail Party, and trained by the well-respected Lauren Harris of Finniss.
Vermouth has raced on 15 occasions for four wins, all at Angle Park over 515 metres with a best time of 29.80 seconds last Thursday night likely to put him right in the mix.
Harris also has Just Kenny, an April 2017 son of Kinloch Brae x Glass Roof, jumping from box eight in the second heat. The black dog has raced on only five occasions for three wins, all at Murray Bridge.
Leading trainer Tracie Price has won three Winter Classics but is yet to win a Summer Classic although he went close last year with Dynamite Danger who went down by a nostril.
The seasoned Maunganui Magic, with six wins from 19 starts to her name, looks well placed for Price in the second heat from box three, while in the third heat Portland trainer Nicole Stanley’s pair of Candy Chimes and No Song should figure prominently from boxes one and eight respectively.
The Summer Classic has an interesting history. First run in 2015, it was won by reserve runner Cryer’s Ricky, trained by Tom Cryer. The following year the Lisa Rasmussen trained Menzel Boys was successful. In 2017, Robert Halliday’s Hutch won the classic and last year Chuck and Bartholomew combined to win with Galactic Panther.
All four classic winners then went on to contest the Mount Gambier Cup the following month, with all reaching the final.