Monday, March 19, 2018
Before a record crowd, Portland greyhound Xtreme Caution won Mount Gambier’s richest-ever race when leading all the way in the $22,000 Group Listed Mount Gambier Cup final (512 metres) at Tara Raceway on Sunday afternoon.
Trained by 51-year-old Brian Weis, the $14 chance Xtreme Caution made full use of box one, defying Lektra Stomp and Galactic Panther in the home straight to score by three-quarters of a length in 29.95 seconds – the fifth-fastest time recorded in the 22 cups run at Lake Terrace East.
For Weis, it was his second Mount Gambier Cup win, Drone successful in 2009 and also third the following year behind Kirkstall Jane. This year was his first cup finalist since 2010.
By Barcia Bale x Xtreme Gretel, Xtreme Caution is owned by the breeder, Matt Morris, a plasterer from Gumly Gumly, a suburb of Wagga Wagga.
Morris, through his association with leading Victorian trainer Robert Britton, had purchased Xtreme Gretel from a ready-to-race sale in Texas, the fawn bitch later winning seven races in the US before finding her way to Australia where she had only a handful of race starts.
The intention was always to breed with Xtreme Gretel although by the time she had whelped a litter of five dogs and five bitches to the high-profile sire Barcia Bale Morris would have been the first to concede that the exercise had been anything but cheap.
Weis’s association with Morris came about in late 2013 when the NSW breeder-owner had been looking for a trainer for a couple of litter brothers that he had bred called Out This Way and In This Way, Weis later winning 13 races with the pair and cementing a successful partnership that ultimately led to Sunday’s Mount Gambier Cup.
Weis, who is currently training six of the “Xtreme” litter for Morris, makes no secret of the fact that he believes the cup winner, in his kennels since October last year, still has plenty of improvement in him.
“To be honest, I believe his potential is untapped,” he said. “I still reckon his condition is not quite right and as such there should be more improvement to come. I’ll talk to Matt this week and it could be that he will go back to Wagga Wagga for a break.”
For Weis, it had been a case of being reasonably confident in his cup heat the previous week but after being run down by Blazing Moment and qualifying for the final on the strength of one of the fastest seconds, he was the first to concede that the black dog would probably have the job ahead of him.
“I have to admit, though, after he drew box one in the final I thought that he might be some chance if the race was run to suit,” he said.
Sunday’s cup win was a tremendously popular result with Weis a regular at Tara Raceway for a number of years.
“I can remember when we used to come over here to get the kibble money, such was the standard of racing. That’s not the case today, though, with the class of greyhound now significantly better.
“But for all that, this is beautiful club and I love coming here.”
Weis also paid tribute to the support of his family – wife Sally and daughters Mandy and Sam.
“And I suppose I should mention my granddaughters, Alex and Zoe, they try to help.”
The cup winner collected $15,000 for connections, along with a service to the Group 1 winning champion Worm Burner. Also cashing in on the win were the Calcutta purchasers who collected more than $4000 after Xtreme Caution’s win.
Looking at the minor placegetters, the Phil Lenehan trained Lektra Stomp, lining up from box five on the back of a track record run the previous week in a heat, found himself well back early after a tardy start before storming home for second while Galactic Panther was always handy, eventually being beaten by only 1½ lengths for trainer Steve Bartholomew.
Blazing Moment was another finalist well back early before working home strongly to finish fourth for Tracie Price. And race favourite, the locally-owned Print The Money, who once again drew a big crowd of supporters to the track, finished on in fifth spot.
Meanwhile, Hutch, who never really got into the race last week when finishing fifth behind Print The Money and failing to qualify for the final, made amends in the Mount Gambier Cup Consolation.
Trained at Portland by Robert Halliday, Hutch, who was a finalist in last year’s cup, led all the way to defeat hot favourite Henry in a best of day 29.56 seconds.