Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club

Tara Raceway, Lake Terrace East, Mount Gambier, SA

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Youngster powers home to answer the challenge

Max Power winning the Border Challenge at Tara Raceway on Sunday.

Well, it took a while, three years in fact, for the Border Challenge to finally find its way to Mount Gambier.

The proposed annual concept of four greyhounds each from Warrnambool and Mount Gambier contesting the challenge kicked off back in 2019 across the border when Lektra Fireball stormed home to grab victory in the shadows of the post.

The following year was Mount Gambier’s turn. But Covid and border closures soon put paid to that – and again in 2021. Somewhere in storage there still lies a 2021 trophy and presentation rug that never saw the light of day.

After heats had been run at both tracks, the stage was then set for a top final to be decided on Sunday over 512 metres at Tara Raceway.

Dennington trainer Dustin Drew’s Incinerator, Aston Marvel and Max Power ran the placings and were carrying the hopes of Warrnambool after fourth placed Inga Zach was scratched from the final.

Mount Gambier’s leading three trainers in Tracie Price, David Peckham and Jason Newman supplied the local representatives – Banjo Bert, Aston Marlon, Wind Burn Flash and Departure Gate.

Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club manager Mark Dwyer (left), Dustin Drew, Craig Monigatti (Warrnambool Greyhound Racing Club manager and Noel Perry (MGGRC president) at Tara Raceway on Sunday with Max Power.

Following the scratchings of Inga Zach and Rhonda Lily, Peckham then found himself with a second runner in Aston Ziebell who went into box one and jumped close to favourite.

And the locals looked well placed as the field rounded the first turn in the $5800 Border Challenge. Departure Gate, already a winner this year of the Mount Gambier Cup and the SEGRC Anniversary Cup, led the way from kennel mate Wind Burn Flash and Aston Ziebell.

But looming large down the back was Max Power, one of the youngest runners in the field. A striking-looking 32 kilogram daughter of Bella Infrared and Aston Selena, she was also the outsider of Drew’s trio at $9.50.

Into the home straight and she was simply too strong, defeating the Newman-trained Wind Burn Flash by 1½ lengths in a best of day 29.88 seconds. A further two lengths back in third spot was Aston Marvel.

For Drew, who had declared Max Power as the run of the race when she ran third in her heat, it had been almost a Border Challenge clean sweep after his greyhounds filled the placings at Warrnambool and then finished first and third in the final.

Max Power, an August 2020 whelping, was bred by Ray Borda who later organised for her to be trained by Drew for the Future Syndicate.

The syndicate, which comprises Port Adelaide AFL identities Tom Rockliff, John Butcher, Ollie Wines, Darcy Byrne-Jones, Tom Jonas and Craig Davies, is managed by coach Ken Hinkley.

“I took over her training when she was about 20 months of age and still unraced,” said Drew. “And while she’s done pretty well for the boys, having previously won at Ballarat, Geelong and The Meadows, I thought my other two runners were probably better chances in the challenge.

“She handled the step up in class pretty well, though, especially when she was mid-field down the back straight and still had a fair amount of work to do. But as she showed at Warrnambool she does finish off her races strongly.”

On course for the final was Warrnambool Greyhound Racing Club manager Craig Monigatti, one of the driving forces behind the Border Challenge back in 2019.

“I remember coming over here several years ago to discuss the cross-border concept with the Mount Gambier committee. Full marks to the club for the manner in which it conducted today’s Border Challenge meeting. It had been a long time coming.

“We now look forward to welcoming back Mount Gambier to Warrnambool for the 2023 Border Challenge.”

Back: Zari and Melissa with Laine. Front (from left): Bayle, Zayden, Jason Newman and Chase with Nitrogen Outlaw and Super Cobra.

And it’s congratulations to Moorak trainer Jason Newman and to his partner Melissa Freitag who recently gave birth to Elaine Margaret.

Laine was the centre of attention when taking in her first greyhound meeting onSunday. She also featured in her first family photograph at the track after the Freitag/Newman-trained pair Nitrogen Outlaw and Super Cobra ran the quinella in the Klaassens Contractors Stake (400 m).

And while on the subject of babies. Congratulations also to Moesha and Matt on the birth of Patrick John.

Meanwhile, the latest Tara Tipsters series wrapped up last Sunday with Kevin “KD” Douglas finishing on top with 810 points.

The next series, a shortened version, will commence on Sunday, November 13 and support the Mount Gambier Christmas Day Community Lunch.

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