LEADING breeder and owner Greg Board is shocked at the decision by Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) to suspend two of his promising pups in the wake of the controversial live-baiting scandal.
Board, who is the owner of boom sire Spring Gun, had two pups at the property of Zeke ‘Ziggy’ Kadir when the RSPCA raids were conducted in February, but was only told last Friday his youngsters had been stood down.
“They (GRNSW) rang me on Friday and told me that they were suspended — not to try and name them, sell them or do anything with them,” Board said.
“They microchipped all the dogs on the property when they did the raids, so I think it is a little bit late to be doing this — if they were that worried about it then why didn’t they do something there and then?”
The unnamed greyhounds had only been at Kadir’s property for a matter of days and, according to Broad, were there for a bit of fine tuning.
“I broke them in myself and they were going very fast so I just wanted to make sure that they had a bit of box work so I sent them down there for five or six days just to have a bit of practice,” Board explained.
Board says it has been a similar story for his friend, who is new to the industry, and is now feeling very discouraged and deflated by the whole ordeal.
“I have got another mate, its the first time he has had dogs in his life and he has reared a litter of Spring Guns – they are beautiful dogs and he is only a battler- but they have told him the same thing. His little girls had already picked out the dogs names and now he is shattered.”
This is not the first time in recent weeks that Board has been affected by the scandal, with one of his star performers, Armed And Ready, suspended by Greyhound Racing Victoria after Darren McDonald was also stood down.
“I missed out the Ballarat Derby with Armed and Ready because they scratched him and he was going to take a hell of a lot of beating. I am waiting for my barrister to get back to me to see about some compensation for that.
“How is it legal that we are getting punished? They can’t tell you what you can do with your own dogs. They have no evidence that my dogs were blooded.”
Board, who has been in the industry for over 40 years, says the actions taken by the authorities to suspend his young dogs has been an overreaction to a despicable practice.
“It is very disappointing. I know what happened (the live baiting) shouldn’t have happened but we have got to move on from it,” he said.
“If they are talking about closing down the industry because of what has happened they may as well close down all of the Catholic schools in Australia for what the priests do and the Police force for all the corruption that goes on, it would be never ending. The world has gone mad.”
GRNSW confirmed on Monday in a press release it had suspended 28 greyhounds which were in the possession of participants currently suspended and under investigation for alleged live baiting incidents, however the statement did not mention any unnamed greyhounds such as Board’s which may also be affected.
Australian Racing Greyhound was able to confirm with GRNSW there are also unnamed greyhounds that have been implicated by the suspensions but, unlike the named greyhounds, they will be assessed on a case-by-case basis if and when GRNSW receive their naming applications.
The suspended greyhounds will not be able to compete or be nominated for any events, sold or transferred into the care, custody and training of any other person until their respective inquiries are finalised.
The named greyhounds are — Almost Quoted, Aussie Quoted, Best Quoted, Beyond, Bleiswijk Billy, Boss Electro, Cee Cee Quoted, Club Shiraz, Combat Shiraz, Disclosure, Fezz, Kevin In Bangkok, Lucky Quoted, Mighty Quoted, Monkey’s Uncle, No No Notorious, Now Quoted, Others Quoted, Raramuri, Ryno’s Raider, Stilton Combat, Stilton Riverboy, Steel Rose, Tarks Black Rose, Topper Blue, Turtleman, Unbroken and Viva La Moon .
GRNSW said that the suspensions were pre-emptive in order to prioritise animal welfare and the integrity of the sport and reflect its zero tolerance attitude towards cruelty to animals.
GRNSW said if they were to identify any other greyhounds exposed to live-baiting practices then they too would be suspended until an inquiry had been completed.
In its release, GRNSW said that the its inquiry will include an assessment into the adverse affects associated with live-baiting and that any decisions to life suspensions would be based upon expert veterinary advise.
After six hours in the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday night, Awesome Project has been given the all clear to start in Saturday’s Group 1 Australian Cup heats at The Meadows.
It was announced early on Friday that Awesome Project would be ineligible to compete in the series after the Board of Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) met on Tuesday and resolved to amend the existing local racing rules and introduce a new rule which prohibits greyhounds to be transferred from a suspended person to a registered person who resides on the same property.
The Board of GRV amended the Local Racing Rule (LRR) 11.7 and introduced a new LRR 11.8 to directly address the situation that would allow a suspended person to transfer greyhounds into the name of another registered person living at the same address.
The rules came into effect at 9am Friday (February 27 2015) however the Board decided that the transfer of greyhounds from suspended former trainer Darren McDonald into his wife Joanne Gane’s name was to be voided. This struck many people by surprise, given the fact that Awesome Project was transferred into Gane’s name on February 14 2015.
It is the second time in as many weeks that Awesome Project has been withdrawn and re-instated from a feature race. Last week, Greyhound Racing Victoria stood down all greyhounds which were owned or trained by the persons suspended on Friday February 13, which meant that the black dog was taken out of the Group 1 Temlee.
It was later decided by GRV, after Canty threatened them with an injunction, that Awesome Project could line up in the race and he justified that ruling, running a terrific second behind My Bro Fabio for Gane.
The action continued in Victoria after the running of the Temlee, with GRV Chairman Peter Caillard resigning on Monday.
Ahead of tomorrows Australian Cup heats, Canty was informed on Thursday night that his greyhound would be withdrawn by stewards acting under their amended and new rules. Canty immediately sought legal advice which resulted in Friday’s after hours Supreme Court hearing.
GRV confirmed in a press release on Friday night that the Supreme Court of Victoria had granted an interim injunction allowing Awesome Project to take its place in the Australian Cup heats. It is still to be determined by the Court whether the injunction should be extended.
“Although we are disappointed with the outcome of this evening’s hearing, and respect the decision of the Court, we will continue take all available action to eradicate the practice of live baiting and take all available action against any individual involved in the practice of live baiting,” GRV’s CEO Adam Wallish said.
Canty on the other hand was understandably relieved to see his star chaser back in the field for the Group 1 Australian Cup heats.
“I think the right decision has been made …. he is back in the race,” Canty said.
Awesome Project will jump from box eight in race 11 at The Meadows on Saturday night for his new trainer Elizabeth Lloyd and will progress through to the following week’s $250,000 final if he is able to win his qualifier.
A NEW welfare levy is being imposed on greyhound prize money and subsidies by Racing Queensland, with it set to raise more than $1.6 million in additional funding as a part of a plan to improve integrity and animal welfare measures.
The new levy comes into effect from March 1 and coincides with Racing Queensland plans to implement a series of changes to the sport’s practices, such as stricter training regulations in regards to the use of lures.
The new levy will be imposed on all feature and base level prize money in addition to incentive and subsidy schemes.
RQ CEO Darren Condon said the changes were being pushed through as a way to improve the greyhound racing industry.
“The greyhound industry is being challenged and we must work together to completely eradicate this type of conduct from the industry forever,” he said
“Racing Queensland has a zero tolerance and will do everything it can to stop it.
“I recognise there are people in the industry who have not been involved in animal cruelty practices, but tough decisions are needed to be made around the way this investigation and our future welfare strategies progress.
“As a result, the levy has been implemented to ensure this contribution is made by the industry.”
Condon further enforced Racing Queensland has zero tolerance for animal cruelty.
“We have made it clear there is no place in the industry for people who engage in animal cruelty practices and while the new measures mean reduced returns to participants, animal welfare must be our number one priority.”
The authority body has outlawed the use of dead animals and animal products for training greyhounds as a part of a new local rule which relates to the types of lures used in training.
“Under the new rule, any lure or similar apparatus used in the training of greyhounds must be artificial and must not carry any organic product, including blood,” Condon said.
As a further rule, Queensland trainers must also provide copies of all invoices relating to the training of greyhounds for this financial year as part of RQ’s current investigation into animal cruelty allegations.
Another rule has also been implemented, giving Racing Queensland the right to take and retain possession of any greyhound they believe may have been involved in an act of animal cruelty or whose owner or trainer they believe has been involved in any act of animal cruelty.
In further news from Queensland, the lawyers of suspended trainers issued show cause notices as to why they should not be banned from all racetracks for life, in the wake of the Four Corners live-baiting investigation, have made their first submissions. The submissions have reportedly suggested that a lack of action by the racing officials was central to the scandal.
The deadline for trainers to show cause to Racing Queensland as to why they should not be warned off passed on Thursday.
In New South Wales, Harry Sarkis had his license re-instated after GRNSW Stewards received advice from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory in regards to the analysis of substances confiscated from his kennelling establishment on February 18, 2015. He will be able to resume training greyhounds until further inquiries are carried out.
In Victoria, the Board of Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) at its meeting on February 24 resolved to make amendments to the existing local rules and introduce a new rule which will now make it prohibited to transfer greyhounds from a suspended person into the name of another registered person residing at the same property.
The board made amendments to LRR 11.7 and introduced LRR 11.8 to address the issue of transferring greyhounds into the name of a registered person residing on the same property.
The amendments came into effect at 9am on Friday morning.
The Board resolved on Friday, in accordance with new rule LLR 11.8 that the transfer of greyhounds from suspended trainer Darren McDonald to his wife Joanne Gane on or after February 14 are voided.
Resulting from this, greyhounds which are engaged in the following events have been withdraw by stewards:
– Urban Cargo from Race 5 at Geelong on Friday February 27
– Awesome Project from Race 11 at The Meadows on Saturday February 28
Brad Canty, the owner of Awesome Project, is unable to comment on the situation which would see his greyhound ineligible to compete in a heat of the Group 1 Australian Cup, with the matter in front of the Supreme Court at present time.
GREYHOUND Racing Victoria chairman Peter Caillard has quit his post in the latest twist in the live-baiting saga.
Caillard informed Martin Pakula, the Victorian Minister for Racing, on Monday he has chosen to resign from his position on the board.
Nearly 40 registered participants have been suspended nationwide so far, including 15 from Victoria, after an investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners. Working with the RSPCA, Animal Liberation Queensland and Animals Australia, it exposed trainers using live rabbits, possums and piglets to train their dogs.
Caillard said in a statement he believed it was in the best interests of all involved for him to step down and that he was confident the required changes would be made for the sport to continue.
“Since the Four Corners program and subsequent discussions and developments, I have made the personal decision that I cannot remain as chairman,” he said.
“I believe in accountability for a chairman of an organisation and that it is in the best interests of the industry that a new person be appointed to this position.
“I wish to emphasise that I am firmly of the view that the new team that has been put in place at GRV are the right people to work with the RSPCA to stamp out this activity once they are given the appropriate powers to do so.
“As a final comment, I will remain available to work closely with the Government and the RSPCA to bring those responsible to justice. I am pleased this activity has been discovered and have no doubt it will be stamped out.”
Caillard also maintained he did not believe the practice was widespread, however, he said he could no longer be satisfied it was restricted to just those caught at the Tooradin trial track. He finished his statement by congratulating the government on its swift action to try to eradicate live baiting.
Also in Victoria and three Group 1 races were run and won at The Meadows on Saturday night with no major incidents to report after it was initially thought a large number of anti-racing protestors would be at the meeting.
The feature events – the Temlee, the Rookie Rebel and Zoom Top, were taken out by My Bro Fabio, Cosmic Wise and Space Star respectively.
Awesome Project, formerly trained by Darren McDonald, was on Friday given the all clear to take his place in the Temlee for McDonald’s wife Joanne Gane and finished second.
There was doubt as to whether the son of Collision and Honour Phase would run after he was suspended from racing earlier in the week when McDonald was stood down due to alleged baiting offences.
RQ Integrity boss on the outer
Racing Queensland has announced the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board has stood down the general manager of Stewarding and Integrity Operations, Wade Birch.
Kevin Dixon, chairman of the QACRIB Board, said the action was taken following recent evidence which suggested procedures of the integrity department need to be addressed.
“Information that has to come to light in the past week suggests there are procedural issues within the integrity area of the business,” Dixon said in a press release on Sunday.
“As Mr Birch is the officer responsible for that department, the board has taken the decision that it is appropriate to stand Mr Birch down while those shortcomings are further understood.
“There is no allegation of improper conduct on Mr Birch’s part, however, in the board’s view, it was appropriate he be stood down until the review is completed.”
In total, 13 trainers have so far been stood down in Queensland for alleged live-baiting practices.
Also in the Sunshine State, Australian Racing Greyhound has requested an update in regards to the greyhounds removed from the properties of suspended participants, however, Racing Queensland was not able to provide further information by the time of publishing.
It is understood some owners have lost patience and are considering legal action. RQ has put the number of dogs seized at 100 but it is believed to be much higher than that.
Lavender says standing down was right call
In NSW, Greyhound Racing New South Wales board member Megan Lavender has publicly spoken about her decision to step down.
The entire board and CEO of GRNSW were asked to stand down or be fired by NSW Racing Minister Troy Grant last week.
Lavender, while disappointed, conceded it was in the best interests of the sport for them all to step down.
“It was in the public interest and in the interests of the greyhound racing industry as a whole that I offered my resignation as a board member of Greyhound Racing NSW to the Deputy Premier, Mr Grant,” Ms Lavender said.
“The only other alternative for the Government would have been to call an immediate halt to greyhound racing in our state. This was an option which I was not prepared to countenance because it would have resulted in the immediate unemployment of thousands of innocent NSW residents associated with greyhound racing – from the ladies serving at the tuck shop to the blokes sweeping out the kennels.
“It was for the greater good – the sacrifice of the few to protect the many – and, to quote Sydney Carton, ‘it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known’.”
Lavender said she in no way supported the actions of the trainers depicted on the ABC’s controversial report.
“What we saw on Four Corners is not just abhorrent. It is revolting. It is vile. It is a crime predicated on evil,” she said.
“I hope that each and every one of the depraved individuals involved is prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which, in this case, can mean nothing short of a custodial sentence.”
JUST a week has elapsed since the nation was shocked by revelations of live baiting in the greyhound industry broadcast on the ABC’s investigative program Four Corners. The week has seemed more like a month as the hits kept coming in all three states affected by the raids. Here is how the scandal unfolded:
RSPCA and police raided five properties in Victoria, NSW and Queensland on February 10 and 11, after Four Corners, in conjunction with Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland, handed over details of its investigation into cruelty in the sport to state-based RSPCAs. The raids were driven by the RSPCA and targeted alleged use of live-baiting methods. Four Corners screened an episode entitled “Making A Killing” last Monday night (February 16) at 8.30pm, including hidden-camera footage of industry participants engaging in live baiting.
Breaking-in establishments in the Londonderry area were raided and the registration of the Box Hill Trial Track was suspended. Five participants were immediately stood down for alleged live-baiting activities. Another person, Congewai trainer John O’Brien, was stood down after a property inspection allegedly discovered eight live European rabbits. After Four Corners screened, northern NSW trainer John Thompson was also stood down. Greyhound Racing NSW announced a taskforce with wide-ranging powers to investigate the extent of live baiting in NSW, headed by former High Court justice Michael McHugh. The board of GRNSW was later stood down, as was chief executive Brent Hogan. Paul Newson, head of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, was installed as interim CEO. The NSW Greyhound of the Year awards night last Friday was postponed. GRNSW stood down three further registered participants for alleged live-baiting offences.
Licensed persons stood down:
John Cauchi: Box Hill Trial Track in the Hills District.
Tony Cauchi: Box Hill Trial Track
Zeke Kadir: Wilshire Park, popular breaking-in facility near Richmond. Has broken in notable dogs such as Keybow.
Ian Morgan: Sydney trainer with the notable “Quoted” greyhounds. It is a successful line including Best Quoted, which was part-owned by Morgan and won five group races, including the Sandown Cup, SA Distance Championship and Easter Chase.
John O’Brien: Trainer from Congewai in the Hunter district.
John Thompson: Trainer from Shannon Brook near Casino in northern NSW.
Majella Ferguson: Popular Sydney conditioner who won the 2008 NSW Trainer of the Year Award.
David Sundstrom: Trainer.
Bruce Carr: Trainer from Londonderry stood down after stewards allegedly found four live rabbits on his property.
After raids by RSPCA and police, the Tooradin trial track near Cranbourne had its registration suspended and 10 industry participants were quickly stood down. Their names were finally released by Greyhound Racing Victoria last last week. It also moved to suspend any greyhounds owned and/or trained by the 10 stood-down participants until after investigations were complete. GRV later stood down five additional persons for alleged live-baiting offences at the Tooradin track. Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, announced an Own Motion Inquiry into live-baiting practices, while the Victorian government also announced it will allocate up to $3 million from the Victorian Racing Infrastructure Fund towards bolstering GRV’s animal welfare and integrity measures. On Monday, February 23, Peter Caillard resigned as chairman of the board of GRV.
Licensed persons stood down:
Darren McDonald: Arguably Australia’s No.1 trainer. McDonald has prepared champions headed by the outstanding Brett Lee, which won 31 of 39 starts with eight placings and was inducted into the AGRA hall of fame.
Chris Connolly: Assists McDonald preparing his champion team of dogs at Devon Meadows.
Stuart Mills: Part of the Mills family, which is greyhound racing royalty in Victoria, and runs the Tooradin trial track. Trains greyhounds in his own right. Brother Andrew is head grader for GRV and a former deputy chief steward.
Tony Mills: Father of Stuart and veteran trainer who won the Ken Carr medal in 2013. The medal recognises outstanding contribution to a greyhound club or clubs. Mills has had a long association with the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club and the National Coursing Association.
Kerry Chalker: Veteran trainer from Pearcedale.
Paul Anderton: Well-known Devon Meadows trainer and lifelong participant in the industry. Anderson has formerly driven the lure at Cranbourne and was a former GRV Steward. Shifty Sticka is his most recent star, though the dog suffered a career-ending injury before it could reach its full potential. Anderson has also been the “slipper” at coursing events.
Dennis Dean: Well known for having the “Hand” dogs. One of the best-known was Henry Hand, which won $113,000 in prizemoney in the mid to late 90s, with 17 wins from 31 starts.
Neville King: The Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club president. Has prepared such stars as Return The King and Boomeroo.
Bob Smith: Former GRV integrity and racing operations manager.
Laurie Cunningham: Long-time trainer.
Jon Roberts: Trainer who owned and prepared the 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Lord Ducal.
The raids in Queensland centred around an unregistered greyhound training track at Churchable, 65km west of Brisbane. Seven trainers were immediately stood down for allegedly engaging in live-baiting offences. They have been given seven days to show cause why they should not be warned off Queensland tracks for life. Six others were later stood down and their greyhounds suspended from racing. Racing Queensland on Tuesday seized more than 100 greyhounds. On Sunday RQ announced it had stood down chief steward Wade Birch.
Licensed persons given show-cause notices:
Tom Noble: Owner and operator of the training track at Churchable.
Reg Kay: Champion trainer based at Lowood. Racing Queensland has said Kay will be removed from its hall of fame.
Debra Arnold: Trainer based near Tom Noble’s track at Churchable.
Tony McCabe: Coominya trainer.
James Harding: Coominya trainer.
Michael Chapman: Trainer.
Greg Stella: Trainer.
Licensed persons stood down:
ZIPPING WILLOW is back in the Richmond Vale kennels of her original trainer, Jason Mackay, after a tumultuous week in the lead-up to the Group 1 Temlee at The Meadows.
After drawing box one in the invitation-only feature, the New South Wales superstar was being prepared in Victoria by Darren McDonald for both that event and for the upcoming Australian Cup series.
But, after just one week in McDonald’s care, her quest for Group 1 glory was halted as she became one of the many chasers suspended across the state when her new trainer was stood down for alleged live-baiting practices on Friday, February 13.
Zipping Willow’s owner and breeder Martin Hallinan found out on Saturday that McDonald was in trouble with the authorities.
“I only found out through word of mouth, nothing official,” Hallinan said.
“On Saturday morning I got a call to say that Darren was in trouble and that his licence was suspended, but nothing from Greyhound Racing Victoria to say that owners must move their dogs, no email at all.
“I got a hold of Darren and we put her in Joanne’s (Gane, McDonald’s wife) name and we thought everything was cruising along good until the Four Corners program came out.
“Then I heard they were going to scratch us all if they stayed in Joanne’s name, so I rang Glenn Rounds (prominent Victorian trainer) on Tuesday and said, ‘Please, Glenn, can you go and get my dogs? I don’t want to be scratched’.”
Rounds quickly collected Zipping Willow and transferred the daughter of Goodesy and Sirocco Lass into his name while Hallinan made plans to travel down to Victoria.
“I was going to drive down and check her over because she went extremely well in a trial at The Meadows on Monday night and I was going to stay down there until Friday and then head home,” Hallinan explained.
“I left at 2.30(pm), it’s a 10-hour drive, and it was probably 5.30(pm) when Brad Canty (owner of Awesome Project, also trained by McDonald) rang me to say that we were going to be scratched from the Temlee.”
“About 7 o’clock Glenn Fish (GRV chief steward) rang me and said that there had been a board meeting and it was decided that all dogs that had gone into Joanne’s name were going to be suspended.”
“I said, ‘That’s all right but that there was no notification for me to move that dog out, you could have given me 48 hours and I could have done it officially’. He said the board had spoken.”
After his solicitors sent letters on Tuesday night requesting that Zipping Willow be allowed to start, Hallinan received an email on Wednesday morning to advise that his star performer would not be starting in the Temlee.
“We were sent a slip that was sent to everyone saying that Darren McDonald was suspended on Friday the 13th at 12 o’clock at night. I rang back and said, ‘Glenn, I don’t want that, I want you to tell me Zipping Willow will not start on Saturday night’.
“He then sent me another email that said ‘Zipping Willow is suspended’. I called him back and said, ‘Glenn, just tell me in your terms that she is scratched, because when I go I am not coming back with her’. That’s why she was down there, she doesn’t travel good.
“He told me, ‘Martin, head for home, you will not start’.”
Hallinan then started the long and arduous trip back home to NSW with Zipping Willow.
“I was driving for home on Wednesday and I was back at Albury when the solicitor rang and told me that all the letters had been sent in and that there was a big possibility that she may get a run,” Hallinan said.
“But I was headed for home, I had already driven five hours.
“Yesterday (Thursday) Glenn Fish rang me and told me that he thought I was going to be back in because they had lots of complaints.
“I told him to scratch Willow, because she went to my house on Wednesday night and then to Jason’s house on Thursday to get her back in training ahead of the Easter Egg.
“We all got notified last night (that Zipping Willow was back in the race), but we have to file an affidavit to allow her to start again.”
Hallinan is adamant Zipping Willow will not be taking her place on Saturday night.
“We cannot drive back down there in Group 1 racing taking on Free For All dogs to make her look ordinary – you’d kick yourself all the way back home on Sunday for being so stupid.
“It would be different if she was a great traveller, I wouldn’t hesitate to drive back down there today, but I weighed her when I got home and she was 0.6kg down.
“She hasn’t had the normal week that she needed in the lead-up to a Group 1.”
Despite his disappointment, Hallinan has remained understanding in what has been an extremely difficult time in the greyhound racing industry.
“Realistically, what’s happened has happened and I just want to move on. Everyone is saying to sue or do this, do that, but it has been a traumatic week and I just want to move on and live with it and go from there,” he said.
“Everything has gone wrong but sometimes you have just got to turn the other cheek and that is my attitude with it all.
“I would love for Willow to be in it, I have never had a Temlee starter and I don’t think I have had a bitch as good as her for many years. It has all been a bad dream, but I just want to move on.”
GRV released a statement on Friday afternoon explaining that the suspension had been lifted on all involved greyhounds, meaning that technically Zipping Willow and Awesome Project could rightfully contest the race.
Awesome Project will still jump from box four in the Temlee on Saturday night for Joanne Gane.
“The Board of GRV yesterday received a report from the Chief Steward in relation to the progress of that inquiry,” their release said.
“Following receipt of that information, the Board has resolved to lift the suspensions provided that it receives a statutory declaration from the owner stating that, having made reasonable inquiries, they are not aware of the relevant greyhound having been trained using live baiting.
“Needless to say, the suspension may be reinstated if subsequent evidence has been received that the greyhound has been trained in such a manner.
“Suspensions under this Board resolution will be lifted in relation to greyhounds only. The 15 alleged offenders suspended by GRV in relation to live-baiting offences remain suspended.”
LEADING Londonderry trainer Harry Sarkis has been suspended immediately by GRNSW stewards following an inspection of his property and kennels.
Sarkis is no stranger to trouble with GRNSW stewards and has been stood down after the inspection revealed vials of substances permanently prohibited under the rules of greyhound racing.
The substances found have not been confirmed but were believed to be growth hormone. If that’s the case Sarkis would be the first trainer in any racing code in Australia to have been found to have used growth hormone, despite decades of its rumoured use in all codes.
GRNSW board member Peter Davis feels like a victim
Sacked GRNSW board member and Fairfax journalist Peter Davis on Thursday told Sky Sports Radio he “feels like a victim”, adding he “was in the right place at the wrong time”. Davis, who once owned and raced a greyhound named Amongst Thieves which was trained by Darren McDonald, says his greyhounds have “never seen a bunny … or anything else” and that “Brent Hogan is the best racing administrator racing has ever seen”.
Davis and his fellow board members were reportedly given the option to stand down or be sacked on Wednesday night.
Seized greyhounds in Queensland have uncertain future
Racing Queensland has confirmed to Australian Racing Greyhound it now has approximately 100 greyhounds in its care following a series of raids. The greyhounds were seized on the basis they may have been exposed to a practice which could compromise their welfare.
Veterinarians have inspected each greyhound to ensure the animals’ health and well-being. RQ will continue to have oversight of the welfare of any greyhounds seized.
RQ said “any owner, whose greyhound has been seized, and who wishes their dog to be returned to their ownership, is encouraged to contact RQ’s licensing department”.
The fate of high-profile and high-worth greyhounds such as Happy Haswell, owned by Reg Kay, is as yet unknown.
GRV names 10 and stands down a further five
Late on Thursday afternoon Greyhound Racing Victoria confirmed the 10 suspended registered greyhound participants and alleged offenders as: Paul Anderton, Kerry Chalker, Chris Connelly, Laurie Cunningham, Dennis Dean, Neville King, Darren McDonald, Anthony Mills, Stuart Mills, and Bob Smith.
Notably, as reported earlier, Anderton is a former GRV steward; King was at the time the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club president; Smith is a former operations and integrity manager of GRV; and, McDonald has been considered one of the most successful trainers of the past two decades.
GRV also announced another five participants have been stood down following review of video footage, but has declined to name them.
Close to 40 participants have been stood down nationwide, including some of the sport’s most prominent trainers. It is not yet known exactly how many registered participants will be implicated in total, however, Queensland Animal Liberation, which conducted the live-baiting investigation in conjunction with the RSPCA and Animals Australia, has estimated the figure to be 70.
Huge fines and jail terms are possible for those found guilty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
GRV announces only artificial lures permitted
The board of GRV has resolved that only artificial materials are permitted for use as a lure for the purpose of training a greyhound. This is effective immediately.
The decision means trainers will no longer be able to use dead animal carcasses or skins on the arm of a lure as a reward for their greyhound.
Controversy surrounds Temlee night at The Meadows
Brad Canty has threatened to put an injunction on The Meadows racing on Saturday night if his greyhound, Awesome Project, is not reinstated in the field for the Group 1 Temlee.
Trained for most of his career by Darren McDonald, Awesome Project was one of the greyhounds stood down from competing after his trainer was also stood down for alleged live-baiting practices.
“If the dog is not reinstated, we’ll be getting the race stopped and pretty confident that will happen,” Canty said.
“No one rang us … we heard nothing … they [GRV] have no idea what they’re doing.”
Also implicated by suspension is NSW star Zipping Willow, which was transferred to McDonald’s kennel just days before he was stood down in order to compete in the lucrative Australian Cup carnival. She had drawn box one in the invitation-only Temlee.
Staying on Temlee night, and it is expected a large group of animal activists will be holding a protest at The Meadows on Saturday. GRV CEO Adam Wallish said they were preparing for action such as this with increased security set to be in place.
”There has been a lot of planning and investment [that has gone into the carnival], it is an event that is steeped in history and some of the best greyhounds from around the country will be participating,” he said. “We are hopeful that it will be an uninterrupted and successful event.”
More sponsors pull the pin on greyhound racing
The list of sponsors which have pulled their sponsorship for greyhound racing has continued to grow. Mazda, Schweppes, Hyundai, Autobarn, Bendigo Bank, Century 21 and Macro Meats have all reportedly cut ties with the sport after the damning live-baiting footage that was shown on the ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday night.
As greyhound racing continues to lose valuable sponsors, Greens MP John Kaye has called for an immediate suspension of the sport.
“Trainers live-bait their dogs to give them a winning edge. All races must be suspended to stop these participants profiting from their unconscionable behaviour and the opportunity for any incentive for the practice to continue,” he said.
Amanda Hill stands by her statements
Amanda Hill, the former GRV steward who appeared on Four Corners, stands by what she said in the show despite a backlash from many greyhound racing participants. Australian Racing Greyhound spoke with Hill and on Friday will feature a full interview about her decision to appear on the ABC’s program and her thoughts on the future of greyhound racing.
GREYHOUND Racing Victoria CEO Adam Wallish has told Australian Racing Greyhound that it expects to stand down more registered participants in coming days as the live-baiting saga intensifies.
The state body suspended the registration of 10 participants and the Tooradin Trial Track last week for alleged baiting offences after it was advised on Wednesday that the RSPCA had been investigating alleged illegal activity at the track.
After receiving further information from the RSPCA and the Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, last Friday, GRV made the decision to instantly suspend the registrations.
While GRV is yet to formally disclose any names, shocking vision on the ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday seemingly identified many of the implicated trainers, including one of Australia’s top mentors.
On Wednesday, Wallish said more suspensions were on the way, while he would not divulge when GRV would confirm the names of all suspended participants.
“We are still acting in accordance with our legal advice at the moment not to make those names public so until that changes we will keep them within GRV,” he said.
“We are going through the process at the moment and within the next day or two it is likely that [more suspensions] will happen.”
Wallish went on to say GRV had no tolerance for those who engaged in live-baiting activities.
“We are all disgusted by the footage and the criminal behaviour that we saw on the Four Corners program on Monday night, it was despicable. Make no mistake, it was criminal behaviour and I am sure that the RSPCA and GRV will prosecute as hard as we can.”
While there has been speculation the sport may be suspended following the shocking Four Corners vision that depicted participants training their dogs by allowing them to maul rabbits, pigs and native possums, Wallish also said he believed that was highly unlikely.
“I don’t think it is warranted (suspending racing) and I think that it is over the top and I think it would be very unlikely to happen,” he said.
“Greyhound Racing employs directly 3000 people in Victoria and 20,000 people are involved. We have an economic impact in Victoria of $350,000,000, it is an important business, so I think it would be unlikely.”
In other developments:
THE crime has been exposed, now it’s time to find all of the culprits.
Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, has announced an Own Motion Inquiry into live baiting practices exposed on the ABC’s Four Corners report on Monday night.
The aim of the inquiry is to investigate the integrity of the greyhound racing industry and the failures of the industry’s governing bodies to identify such widespread cruelty and criminal activity.
The Victorian Government also announced it would allocate up to $3 million from the Victorian Racing Infrastructure Fund towards bolstering GRV’s animal welfare and integrity measures, including:
Commissioner Perna said the report into live baiting had come as a shock to him and his department.
“I’ve been in this role for five years and I’ve certainly not seen anything like this before,” Perna said.
“Like anyone else who has seen the footage, I was sickened and angry at what I saw.”
Perna said he had spoken with the Victorian Minister for Racing, Martin Pakula, and both had agreed the Own Motion Inquiry was the best course of action.
“I hold the racing industry in high regard and questions over the integrity of racing must not be left unanswered,” he said.
While Perna could not put a timeline on the results of the inquiry, he did admit he had concerns that it took an animal welfare group and a television program to unearth the criminal activity before his office.
“It is a worry. In my own view, the culture of the industry is good. I have been involved for five years now and we have had just one anonymous call and complaint on live baiting in that time.
“There have been a lot of improvements made across the three racing codes over the past give years, but if there are things that need to be fixed, we will fix them.
“The questions I ask are, how widespread is this? Should they have known? Did they know?”
Perna also flagged reform for greyhound sanctions after it was revealed that Darren McDonald and Paul Anderton had transferred greyhounds into their wives’ names before investigations into their actions had even begun.
“There is reform needed for sure. When you look at sanctions, the thing you need to look at is proportion and effect.
“What effect does it have on the person receiving it?
“If the sanctions have no effect because they can move a dog to somewhere else and continue to be doing what they did, then the sanctions are not working and need to be addressed. The legislation needs to be addressed and the rules need to be addressed.”
Perna pleaded with anyone with information on live baiting or other illegal practices in the racing industry to contact his office. You can phone (03) 8684 7776, fax (03) 8684 7778 or email: email@example.com.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, the fall-out from the live-baiting expose on Four Corners included:
GRNSW boss Brent Hogan told Fairfax Radio: “We only became aware of John Thompson’s involvement through the broadcast last night. He’s registered in NSW, he’s been suspended and we’re now working with Racing Queensland in relation to that matter.”
NSW GBOTA boss Brenton Scott said in a statement: “Live baiting is an illegal practice and represents animal cruelty at its worst. Despite considerable funds being expended by controlling bodies across Australia on animal welfare, integrity and rule compliance grounds, the Four Corners program has shown extreme weaknesses exist in current regulation processes.
“Given this, the independent taskforce, which will assess training methods and arrangements and controls that need to be in place at trial tracks, is welcomed and supported.”
“This is the vision the greyhound racing doesn’t want you to see.”
Powerful opening words backed up by a horrific image of a terrified live rabbit on the lure.
In the lead-up its screening on Monday night, ABC’s investigative program Four Corners promised to expose “the gruesome underbelly of greyhound racing” in its latest episode, Making A Killing, following last week’s co-ordinated raids by police and RSPCA on multiple training establishments across the country, which found illegal live baiting occurring on-site.
CEO of Greyhound Racing Victoria Adam Wallish called the story, which started with findings from Four Corners in conjunction with Animal Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland, “explosive, emotive and extremely damaging to the future of this sport in Australia.”
What was delivered is a serious wake-up call for regulators and a shocking look into the illegal practices of some trainers – one that can be used as a vehicle for change.
- Prominent greyhound breeder and trainer and president of the United Queensland Greyhound Association Deborah Arnold allowed her 70 greyhound puppies and racing dogs at her property ‘Dessa Downes’ in Churchable to be filmed by Four Corners. “The kennels have to be RSPCA QLD-approved,” said Arnold. “It definitely meets the requirements.” When questioned on the practice of live-baiting, Arnold denied any knowledge of it: “If they do I don’t know about it, and I don’t really want to know about it.”
- Undercover footage from Animal Liberation Queensland and Animals Australia earlier filmed a training track in Churchable, Queensland, across the road from Arnold’s property. On film, it captures Arnold and her dog Dorak Des chasing a live pig on the lure while Arnold asks “what’s the quickest been today” before being informed her dog is. Arnold is later asked by Four Corners what mantra is at the forefront of greyhound racing in 2015, to which she states, “animal welfare.”
- Professor of animal behaviour and animal welfare science Paul McGreavy offered his comments on the matter of live-baiting coming from a decade of research into the breed, insisting there are breeds far more dangerous and that greyhounds are simply “chasing to catch, not to kill”. He emphasises the dogs “love racing, they love moving around that speed – they’ll be getting off on this,” and that they “are so sedentary when they’re not exposed to this stimuli.”
- Animal Liberation Queensland investigator Hailey Cotton reveals the first tip-off regarding live-baiting in Churchable was passed to her: “Their words to me were ‘something really bad is going on there,’ and they said ‘it smells like death’”.
- Undercover cameras were placed in the property of prominent Queensland trainer Tom Noble, a celebrated, award-winning greyhound trainer with almost 50 years in the game. His break-in centre is the epicenter of greyhound training in Queensland, and the live baiting footage of Deborah Arnold’s dog occurred on his track.
- More than 40 owners, trainers and handlers are recorded on camera while live baiting occurs on Tom Noble’s property. “These people are leading trainers, they’re training their dogs with these methods,” said Cotton. “They’re then going on to win races using these methods, so the whole integrity of greyhound racing is really brought into question here.”
- Footage confirms four times a week, piglets and later possums are flung around Noble’s track 26 times at high speed. The piglet is shown squealing with a man on the camera swearing at it, and one or two dogs are let loose to chase, grab and maul the possum while it’s still alive. Some 56 minutes later, the lure stops and the possum is snapped in half, the corpse still attached by its spinal cord, with the men in the footage making light of the situation.
- Discussion of dumping dead dogs is captured on film, leading the investigation to ask NSW greyhound trainer John Thompson about the issue. Animal Liberation Australia links him as the man in the footage telling others to smash a baby possum’s head in so the live baiting of its mother can begin. “They ripped the baby from the mother, they tied the mother on the lure, and they then stick the baby’s head in the sand to kill it while its mother is watching on, all the time laughing and joking on how amusing it is,” said Hailey Cotton.
- In mid-November 2014, Lyn White of Animals Australia simultaneously led an investigation at the Tooradin Trial Track in Victoria after a tip-off. Considered to be in the heart of greyhound racing territory in the state, the track is run by owner operator Stuart Mills, whose brother is Andrew Mills, former deputy chief steward for Greyhound Racing Victoria and now the regulator’s chief racing grader for the entire state.
- Lyn White reveals 17 people were captured live baiting the first time undercover footage was recorded. The first trainer identified is former steward of Greyhound Racing Victoria Paul Anderton, who arrives as Stuart Mills attaches a lure on a wooden plank with leather straps, before returning with a live rabbit and stretching it out tightly as he buckles it down flat. The rabbit is shown returning five minutes later, mauled but still alive and twitching in agony. “It tells me this is a practice that has been going for an acceptable level to trainers for years and years,” White said.
- Anderton’s dogs went on to win three races days after being captured on the footage in Tooradin. President of Cranbourne Racing Club Neville King is also filmed on camera live baiting two days before Christmas at Tooradin.
- Trainer Dennis Dean and a young girl watch as live rabbits are leashed and thrown to the dogs to kill. CEO of Greyhound Australasia Scott Parker was questioned on his thoughts of live-baiting behaviour during the revelations of the footage and the discovery of children being brought to watch while it occurs: “I think that’s ridiculous and abhorrent. I don’t support that at all. I’m not aware of it, and never heard of it, live baiting is illegal as well as being wrong and against the rules of greyhound racing.”
- Footage of dogs on the Tooradin track is shown, encouraged to savagely kill several rabbits, which are skinned or tied as they maul them.
- Former steward at Greyhound Racing Victoria Amanda Hill says there was a problem inside GRV regarding regulators failing to pick up and follow on rumours of live-baiting in the state: “Lack of resources, lack of funds, lack of knowledge, or plainly, they don’t want to accept that it’s a possibility.” She believes some trainers are “doing it to try and get an edge. It’s probably harder to get caught live baiting than what it is to using performance-enhancing drugs.”
- Hill left GRV in 2004 and became the Chair of Stewards in Greyhound Racing Tasmania, where she was able to do better in stopping live baiting. In 2008, Hill caught a female trainer red-handed live baiting a possum. Possum carcasses were found all over the track, and it remains one of two cases in the past decade where a steward has followed through and successfully convicted a live baiter.
- Hill identifies two-time Australian greyhound trainer of the year Darren McDonald as one of the figures caught on film three days before the 2014 Melbourne Cup, engaging in live baiting at Tooradin alongside handler Chris Connelly. He is shown on camera carrying a sack with a tiny pink piglet before placing it on the lure. The two men remove the muzzles on their dogs after two laps and the dogs maul the piglet, heard squealing as it dies off-camera. McDonald has since transferred all of his greyhounds to his wife’s name.
New South Wales wrap-up:
- McDonald’s top sprinter Keybow is revealed by Four Corners to have been broken in across the border in NSW at Londonderry by Zeke Kadir.
- Four Corners received a tip-off within the industry that Kadir was rumoured to be the best live baiter within the state, and that it occurred at his property as part of his training purposes. “He mentioned that he broke (in) Keybow, and he talked about how he gets live rabbits from a person he knows, and he gets about 30 a week,” a private investigator for Four Corners confirms.
- Footage shows Zeke Kadir using the rabits tied to a hand-pushed lure, controlled by Kadir. They’re dragged along the ground at speed pursued by dogs in training. On January 12, 2015, the footage captures Ian Morgan arriving at the venue for a private session, where a native possum is strung to the lure struggling to escape as two muzzled greyhounds attempt to bite the possum. Four minutes later, the muzzles come off and the cry is captured off-screen of the possum’s demise. “I am fearful at how widespread this is, and the consequences for literally thousands of animals each year,” said Lyn White.
- Morgan is later seen removing the dead possum from his greyhound, Cee Cee Quoted. Four days later, Four Corners catches him leaving his Western Sydney home bound for an afternoon race meet in Newcastle, where Cee Cee Quoted places third. John Cauchi, of Box Hill, was also caught practising live baiting by hand.
- Four Corners notes requests for interviews with the regulators in all three states caught live-baiting were declined, deferring comment to CEO of Greyhounds Australasia Scott Parker. “I don’t suspect this is a systemic problem at all,” Parker said. “It’s illegal, abhorrent, and totally rejected by the industry.”
- When asked about how three tracks have been confirmed to have had live baiting occurring on site that have not been detected by regulators, Parker surmises “our controlling bodies do a great job, but it’s a big industry and a lot of these facilities are a long, long way away from Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane – and that’s why compliance officers are employed to get out there.”
- In Queensland, RSPCA caught the live-baiters at Tom Noble’s establishment during their follow-up raids and saved a live piglet tied in a sack moments away from being bound and baited. Tom Noble was on-site, as well as his staff James Draws and Tony McCabe. They denied any wrong-doing despite being caught on film. RSPCA eventually found a second piglet hidden inside a shed on the property, wounded from a previous live-baiting session.
- At Tooradin, Stuart Mills was watched closely, but no animals were caught on-site. Four Corners visited him the next day of the raids, and he’s clearly shaken as he maintains his denials about live-baiting.
- Zeke Kadir’s property was visited, but he refused to answer Four Corners’ reporters on live baiting.
- Four Corners’ investigations are now a criminal matter, with state charges imminent.
- In Victoria, GRV chair Peter Caillard has welcomed a $6 million government investment for investigative resources for GRV to help detect and prevent practises such as live-baiting from occurring in the future. In addition, GRV have also announced that dead animals will no longer be allowed to assist in the training of greyhounds. “The use of live animals is already outlawed. GRV will also outlaw the use of dead animals in greyhound training whether on private premises or registered training premises,” Mr Caillard said in a press release. Caillard has also agreed to cancel the Greyhound Industry Awards night, which was to be held this Friday night, after instruction from MP Martin Pakula. The Darren McDonald-trained Sweet It Is was the frontrunner to take out the highest honour, 2014 Victorian Greyhound of the Year.
- In New South Wales, GRNSW have announced that a taskforce has been established to investigate the extent of the live-baiting practices in the state. The taskforce will be led by former High Court justice and eminent legal practitioner, the Hon. Michael McHugh AC, QC. The taskforce will look into the training methods used in NSW and will arrange for trial tracks and training facilities to be monitored. It is also set to examine whether GRNSW and relevant agencies such as the RSPCA NSW have the necessary powers to correctly investigate animal cruelty allegations. “We need to stamp out live baiting once and for all. Not only is it illegal but it is sickening and we are disgusted with what we have witnessed on air,” GRNSW CEO Brent Hogan said in a press release. “GRNSW welcomes Michael McHugh’s acceptance to head this taskforce and is committed to working closely with him and the taskforce as quickly as we can. The taskforce will help ensure that live baiting and other acts of animal cruelty identified in NSW are eradicated as quickly as possible.”
THE final fields have been announced for three of Australia’s most prestigious invitation-only greyhound races: the Temlee, the Rookie Rebel and the Zoom Top.
Each race holds Group 1 status and will be run and won at The Meadows on February 21. The box draw for each will be held on Saturday (February 14).
The Temlee, worth $100,000 to the winner, will be run for the sprinters over 525 metres with the finalists in the race having won an incredible $2.42 million between them.
Each individual greyhound is a Group winner and all eight are in tremendous form with Dyna Villa being the boom pup on the scene. A win in the Temlee would take him within $10,000 of becoming Australia’s highest stakes earner.
The field in alphabetical order is as follows:
Above All, Allen Deed, Awesome Project, Chica Destacada, Dyna Villa, Flash Reality, My Bro Fabio, Zipping Willow
Res: Marcus Joe, Musquin Bale
The Rookie Rebel will be conducted over the 600-metre trip offering $75,000 to the winner. The standout performer at this early stage appears to be Star Recall, the winner of last year’s Sale Cup, but she will face a tough task against the likes of Lamia Bale, Ralphy Cinel and the Kelly Bravo-trained duo of Ride The Rails and Waymore’s Blues.
The eight chosen runners are:
Cosmic Wise, Echelonic Action, Lamia Bale, Ralphy Cinel, Ride The Rails, Sisco Rage, Star Recall, Waymore’s Blues
Res: Cornelius Fudge, Come On Fantasy
Finally, in the Zoom Top eight stayers will battle for Group 1 glory, however, the race will lack some depth with the absence of top Victorian bitch Sweet It Is. Darren McDonald’s multiple Group 1 winner hasn’t been seen since the end of last year when finishing third in the Sale Cup behind Star Recall. Still, an intriguing final awaits.
The final field will consist of:
Blinker’s On, Flying Twist, Lady Toy, Psychotic Gold, Pumped Up Zarr, Shall She Rock, Space Star, Starc
Res: Zipping Maggie, Zipping Rory
The three races will be run on the same night as the preliminaries of the Group 1 Australian Cup with the winners guaranteeing themselves a spot in the following week’s heats.
Many of the Temlee contenders will also head towards the Australian Cup series, with the final on March 7 boasting $250,000 to the winner.
AZZA Azza Azza has arrived. The son of Collision and Alotta Mojo won tonight’s Group 2 Shepparton Gold Cup in devastating fashion to take his career earnings past the $100,000 mark after earning connections $45,000 with tonight’s victory.
It was a very similar performance to his heat win after spearing to the front early and giving the chasing brigade no chance from there. This exciting chaser has now won 20 of his 30 lifetime starts and there is plenty more wins on the horizon.
Dyna Villa started the race as the clear second favourite but seemed to stumble soon after box rise and was unable to get into the race from there, finishing a clear last. The son of Collision and Roxio Bale was found to have a mild strain in both thighs and was given a three day stand down after a post-race vet check.
Both Allen Malik and Tiggerlong Amigo found the line strongly to fill the minor placing, however neither were ever winning possibilities.
Group Two Shepparton Cup Full Results
1st: Azza Azza Azza (1) – Wayne Vassallo
2nd: Allen Malik (7) – Steven Collins
3rd: Tiggerlong Amigo (2) – Darren McDonald
4th: Armed And Ready (8) – Darren McDonald
5th: Midnight Flynn (4) – Michael Carter
6th: Ronray Spirit (3) – Terrence Reid
7th: Sisco Rage (5) – John Galea
8th: Dyna Villa (6) – Jenny Hunt
1st Split: 6.47
2nd Split: 11.08
Run Home: 14.04
Margins: 4 3/4 x Head
Scratchings: Luca Neveelk (9), Samus Allen (10)
THE 2015 Shepparton Gold Cup will give some of the best chasers in the land a chance to add $45,000 and a Group 2 title to the trophy cabinet. An amazing spread of established group performers and up and coming stars will contest one of the most intriguing country cups of recent times.
The undoubted current “King Of The Loam” in Dyna Villa will have his work cut out against the new kids on the block in Azza Azza Azza, Ronray Spirit and Armed And Ready. The winner of a staggering $634,990 will be looking at cracking the $700k mark on his quest to become greyhound racing’s first million dollar dog.
The hardest to beat will be the Wayne Vassallo-trained Azza Azza Azza from the inside. Although he can be a bit risky early, if he jumps and runs the same times as last week he will be near impossible to run down. Tonight might be the night that this immensely talented chaser announces himself on the big stage.
Warragul Cup winner Ronray Spirit and the Darren McDonald-trained Armed And Ready will be extremely hard to beat with early luck as well.
Like any feature race, the start will make the race and this promises to be an exciting charge to the first turn.
|Azza Azza Azza|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Has always showed tremendous potential and always looked like he would be a perennial country cups contender. Last week he shanghaied out and he made Luca Neveelk look pretty ordinary when posting a blistering 24.93 heat win. He posted best of the night sectionals in his heat and if he begins like that he should hold them out and win, the only concern with him is that he can bomb the start at times.”|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Was well placed in the wide draw in his heat and once he found the early lead he was always going to be hard to reel in, he is a Derby winner so it’s no surprise to see him in a final like this but he isn’t at his peak at the moment and from the inside draw I can’t see him making an impact.“|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Recently captured the Warragul Cup final and is a great chance of grabbing his second country cup. Last week in his heat he copped a knock soon after the start but he picked himself up quickly and assumed control. His winning time of 25.33 is just fair but I think if he pings the lids and finds the bunny like he did at Warragul he will be able to get down to around the 25 flat mark and that makes him a major player.“|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Has a great record here and powered to the line in his top 25.34 heat win, the concern with him is that he will get a long way back early and I can’t see him giving classy chasers a head start and reeling them in. He isn’t the worst though and if there happens to be some trouble up front he may be able to run home into a place.“|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Has turned in some monster performances in recent weeks and one out he would beat any runner in this field. Last week he got held up mid race and he gave Dyna Villa a big head start but once he got into some clear running he went into overdrive and he almost picked the leader up. Once again the box draw will make life difficult for him but if he can somehow find the rail and avoid bother he will be breathing down the leaders necks as they turn for home and he may just cause an upset.”|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “One of the most reliable chasers in training and he reminds a fair bit of El Galo. Last week he flew the lids and set a cracking pace before posting an impressive 25.18 heat win, he got a little tired in the run home but I think he will be better for that run and if he finds the lure again tonight I believe a sub 25 second run could be on the cards. The draw isn’t great but it’s hard to knock him because at the present time he just keeps pinging the lids. I think he is under the odds but he is clearly a great winning chance.“|
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Has been a consistent sprinter for quite a while now and it is great to see him make a final of this calibre. His effort in his heat was very impressive and a similar effort tonight could see him sneak into the placings. The concern tonight is that he is likely to settle well back in the field and he will have to try and reel in some classy animals.“
|Armed And Ready|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Exciting prospect who looks ideally drawn in the pink draw. He generally pings the lids and once he hits the ground he goes into overdrive. His heat winning time of 25.18 was just fair and Allen Malik got very close to him in the run home, however it was his first look at the track and I would expect him to improve a fair bit on that run. On Warragul Cup night he did post a ridiculous 25.58 win, which was just under three lengths faster than the actual cup. He is my tip for the race and I think he could have enough speed to burn them off and getaway mid race.“|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “His record speaks for itself and he was a tad unlucky not to make the final. He got shown up in his heat by Azza Azza Azza but I think if he happened to gain a start he is more than capable of turning the tables. He has already won a couple of country cups and it would be great to see him gain a start.“|
|ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Strong effort when placed in her heat and she has been racing in consistent style of late, she is capable of showing good speed but I think these days she is better suited to racing over the 500m journey. Unlikely to gain a start but even if she did I can’t see her being a major player.“|
Top Four: 8 – 6 – 1 – 5
Boxed Quinella: 1,5,6,8 ($6 for 100%)
Exacta: 1,6,8/1,5,6,8 ($9 for 100%)
Trifecta: 8/1,5,6/Field ($18 for 100%)
THERE is no doubt that Victoria is the home of country cups racing and with $45,000 on offer to the winner of Sunday’s Group 2 Shepparton Gold Cup, the trend continues.
Monday’s heats unearthed a new generation of superstars which shared the spoils with some established champs on a fantastic night of racing at the Kialla track, with Azza Azza Azza producing a freakish best of the night run of 24.92 in the fifth heat.
The first heat of the night was a sign of things to come, with early leader and recent Warragul Cup winner Ronray Spirit saluting in a time of 25.32 for trainer Terrence Reid, defeating a very gallant Jack Silver. There was a line of four early, but Ronray Spirit was able to hold out the outside brigade, with Jack Silver working extremely hard out four-wide. On the turn Jack Silver looked a genuine chance of overhauling the leader, but Ronray Spirit was extremely strong to the line and won by a widening margin of just under a length-and-a-half.
Armed And Ready won the second heat of the night in a time of 25.18 from a fast-finishing Allen Malik. This exciting Spring Gun youngster has now won seven of his ten lifetime starts and will be a force to reckoned with over the coming months. Allen Malik got within a quarter of a length on the line and qualified for next week’s final with a personal time of 25.20.
Dyna Villa has now won 20 of his 31 starts, with a 25.18 win over powerhouse sprinter Sisco Rage in the third heat putting him in with a chance of more group glory. He led all the way to beat Sisco Rage, which put in a phenomenal run to get within a half length of the Melbourne Cup winner after spotting him four lengths on the home turn. His run of 25.21 will see him make the final as the second fastest runner-up. Lamia Bale was third over the line, six lengths from Dyna Villa.
Darren McDonald secured his second finalist in the fourth heat, with talented chaser Tiggerlong Amigo leading all the way in 25.25 to score by three quarters of a length from the fast finishing Samus Allen. Odds-on favourite Caustic Bale finished in third position, two lengths from the winner.
The fifth heat was a display of pure speed, with Wayne Vassallo’s freak sprinter Azza Azza Azza producing an amazing run of 24.92. The early split of 6.44 was super impressive, with the speedy Luca Neveelk unable to make an impression. The Gerald Kleeven-trained star chased his heart out to the line, but his finishing time of 25.23 will see him miss out on the final field of eight by less than half a length. Who Told Blackie was an honest run from the pink box to finish in third.
Midnight Flynn bucked the trend in the final heat, with the Mick Carter-trained dog being the only non-leader to salute throughout the six heats. It was a strong performance to win in 25.34 after being extremely wide for the entire trip from the pink box. Early leader El Grand Seal was run down late, but fought on well to finish second, one length from the winner. Steven Clarke’s Big Ticket continued his run of good form with a fast finishing third.
The box draw has played into the hands of emerging superstar Azza Azza Azza, with a repeat of tonight’s effort making him near impossible to beat in the final. If the son of Collision can go 6.44 to the peg again it will make it near impossible for anything to cross him and with five of the six heats going to the early leader, it’s of paramount importance to find the front. It promises to be a sensational final, with a fantastic field of chasers assembled.
Group 2 $45,000 Shepparton Gold Cup Box Draw
Box One – Azza Azza Azza (Wayne Vassallo)
Box Two – Tiggerlong Amigo (Darren McDonald)
Box Three – Ronray Spirit (Terrence Reid)
Box Four – Midnight Flynn (Mick Carter)
Box Five – Sisco Rage (John Galea)
Box Six – Dyna Villa (Jenny Hunt)
Box Seven – Allen Malik (Steven Collins)
Box Eight – Armed And Ready (Darren McDonald)
First Reserve – Luca Neveelk (Gerald Kleveen)
Second Reserve – Samus Allen (Jenny Hunt)
THE 2015 Group 2 Shepparton Cup series will see some of the sport’s brightest stars compete for a spot in Sunday night’s final worth $45,000-to-the-winner.
With six heats being conducted, each winner plus the two fastest seconds will progress through to the final.
Lets get straight into our selections…
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,500 3rd: $750.
Great lineup to kick off the Shepparton Cup series and I think the Darren Mcdonald-trained Quick Succession might have the speed to burn them off and score. Three starts back she was airborne early in her sizzling 25.56 Geelong win and a repeat of that effort will see her score again.
Ronray Spirit recently captured the Group Two Warragul Cup final and he appears to be going from strength to strength. My only concern with him is that he isn’t a lid pinger and he takes a couple of strides to get going but when he does hit full stride there aren’t many chasers that can go with him.
Dream It is a class act and he returned to form at Sandown last time when placed behind his kennelmate My Bro Fabio in brilliant time. He is better suited to the 500m journey but he still has enough zip to be competitive.
Quarrel Bale has a big engine and he should run a big race if he can gain a clear passage early.
Top Four: 6 – 4 – 5 – 3
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,500 3rd: $750.
Armed And Ready has won six of his nine starts to date and last time out he won at Warragul and went faster than the Cup final on the same night. He seems to ping the lids when he exits wide draws and there doesn’t appear to be a lot of speed drawn around him. This is his toughest test to date but he should be up to the challenge.
Dewana Result is probably one of the fastest chasers in the land and if he can step cleanly he will be in the finish. He is first up from a spell and he should be primed for a bold first up showing, my only concern with him is that he can bomb the start and he may get squeezed out in the early stages.
Natural Player is an explosive NSW speedster who has won 27 of 43 on the provincial circuit in his home state. If he handles the track at his first look he should run a monster race.
Grand Legacy could be the value in the race, he has won three of four here and if he can hook to the outside early he may run over the top of them late.
Top Four: 6 – 2 – 4 – 5
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,500 3rd: $750.
Dyna Villa is probably the most reliable chaser to race since El Galo and with the empty draw underneath he should get every chance to lead throughout tonight. He is already a multiple Group One winner in his brief career and he is likely to be the first ever greyhound to crack the million.
Sisco Rage is in career best form and his effort when placed in a heat of the Warragul Cup was enormous, he can be hit or miss early but if he gets away he will make the favourite work hard for victory. There is one small concern though, if he misses away from the red he may get buried back mid race.
Access is a classy provincial sprinter and he is well placed in the pink, he probably isn’t as brilliant as some of his rivals but he is reliable early and he always puts himself into contention.
Lamia Bale rounds out the chances, she returned to form with an explosive 29.27 Sandown win and she will be hitting the line hard.
Top Four: 6 – 1 – 8 – 7
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,500 3rd: $750.
Caustic Bale is an absolute beast and if he gets room to wind up in the first 50 metres he should put a space in them. Last time out he missed the kick from this draw but he whipped around the field quickly and put a space in them before posting a dazzling 25.14 Ballarat win. Once again, the concern is what he does at box rise but he has great track sense and he should be able to overcome a couple of early difficulties.
Samus Allen has the great draw and she is unbeaten in her two tries here, she has the early speed to hold them out and she can run some serious time when on the bunny.
Size Does Matter has a ridiculous amount of talent but he has been a little disappointing to date, he is second up after six weeks off and he should be ready to fire.
Tiggerlong Amigo could be the value, he is better than his form reads and he should be suited to the wide draw.
Top Four: 8 – 1 – 3 – 7
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,500 3rd: $750.
Luca Neveelk is super talent and he has dominated the country cups in recent months. He was a tad unlucky when runner up in the Warragul Cup last time and he should make amends tonight. He is making his debut here tonight but he generally handles himself quite well when having his first look.
Azza Azza Azza has explosive speed and he is unbeaten in his two starts here, he normally pings the lids and if he does he should be able to go with the favourite for most of the journey.
Dawkins Bale is a promising speedster and he turned in a real eye catcher when placed in a heat of the Warragul Cup recently, he is going to need some luck from the draw but if he gets it he will run a monster race at nice odds.
Alex’s Entity must also be respected, he has plenty of gears but I’m a little concerned that he may get shuffled back soon after the start.
Top Four: 6 – 3 – 5 – 1
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,500 3rd: $750.
Lady Ronray is a faultless beginner and she has scored some sizzling wins at Maitland and Bulli in her career to date. With a slow beginner on her inside she should be able to find the rail early and if she finds the lure she will prove extremely hard to reel in.
Big Ticket loves racing here and he is armed with a devastating turn of foot soon after box rise, he has the luxury of a slow beginner on his outside tonight so he should get plenty of room to drive through.
El Grand Seal should put pressure on Lady Ronray for most of the journey and she should be able to hang on for some minor money.
Walt Bale could be the value for the place, he will get burnt off in the early stages but if he can find the fence he will be powering home.
Top Four: 2 – 4 – 3 – 6
Fifty-three invitations have been sent out for the three Group 1 races on February 21: the Temlee (525m), Rookie Rebel (600m) and Zoom Top (725m), all of which will be run and won at The Meadows.
Twenty-six greyhounds have been invited to compete in the $100,000-to-the-winner Temlee, the list containing some of the best sprinters from across Australia (and New Zealand).
Group 1 Temlee invitees:
Above All - Winner of the Group 1 Hobart Thousand and Group 1 Silver Chief Classic. The Kiwi-owned son of Magic Sprite and Kara Janx is one of the most exciting youngsters in the country.
Allen Deed – The Andrea Dailly-trained powerhouse, which won last year’s Adelaide Cup final, is an absolute freak when he gets some clear galloping room and is the track record holder at The Meadows.
Avondale Porche – Extremely consistent bitch which was on the sidelines for nearly a year with seasonal issues. She returned in fantastic style winning the Group 2 Cranbourne Cup earlier this year.
Awesome Project – Darren McDonald’s ultra-consistent charge which is yet to salute in a Group 1 but does have two Group 2 features to his name – the Group 2 Gosford Gold Cup and the Group 2 Harrison-Dawson.
Blitzing Mayhem – Top-class New Zealand greyhound which has won 35 of his 55 races including two Group 1 races and one Group 2.
Chica Destacada – Flying NSW bitch which scored a memorable victory in the 2014 Group 1 National Sprint Championship at Cannington. She also ran second in the Melbourne Cup behind Dyna Villa.
Dream It – Honest dog which has some top wins around Victoria and has saluted in 19 of his 49 starts for trainer Brooke Ennis.
Dyna Double One – Freakish animal with just six starts to his name. He clocked an incredible 29.52 in his semi-final of the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic before running third to Above All in the final.
Dyna Villa – Rarely puts a paw wrong in his races and at less than two-and-a-half years of age has already tasted success in two of the sport’s biggest races – the Group 1 Melbourne Cup and the Group 1 Paws of Thunder.
Flash Reality – Talented Queensland sprinter which won the Group 2 Queensland Derby and made the final of the Group 1 National Sprint Championship and the Group 1 Dapto Megastar before being sidelined through injury. Has resumed racing in recent weeks and should be nearing his peak.
Iva Vision – Boom youngster from the Sunshine State which took out the Group 3 SA Derby and the Group 2 Sandown Shootout. While he can be tardy early, he has a massive motor and excellent field sense that tends to find him in the money.
Keybow – Dual Group 1 winner which has been a model of consistency throughout his career for Darren McDonald. He is blessed with a mix of speed and strength and is rarely too far away in feature races.
Lamia Bale - Won two Group races in the space of 10 days late last year for Steve Collins. She is also invited to compete in the Rookie Rebel which may be a better fit for her.
Luca Neveelk – One-turn specialist which has limited experience on two-turn tracks but has proven he can match it with the best of them, making the final of last year’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup.
Marcus Joe – Group 1 Maturity Classic winner which is never in the spotlight but rarely puts in a bad effort.
Maximum Lil – Is in career-best form. She recently won a heat of the Group 1 Paws of Thunder for trainer Andrea Dailly before running fifth in the decider.
Musquin Bale - Old-timer with 22 wins from 74 starts which is still capable of matching it with the youngsters on his night.
My Bro Fabio - Absolute machine when he is on song which has put in some dazzling performances around Sandown and The Meadows while he also won last year’s Group 3 Canberra Cup the week after smashing the track record in his heat.
Oakvale Destiny - The blue bitch oozes class and makes up for her lack of early speed with her excellent navigation. She was a winner of last year’s Group 1 Sapphire Crown Classic.
Ride The Rails - Has been flying since coming into Kelly Bravo’s kennels, making the finals of the Group 1 Hobart Thousand and the Group 2 Warragul Cup.
Ritza Hattie - After a string of luckless runs, things finally turned around for the Mark Gatt-trained bitch when she took out this year’s Group 2 Gosford Gold Cup. She has experience in Victoria and is capable of holding her own against the top dogs.
Shoulders - Gun speedster which ran a cracking second in the Group 1 Maturity Classic and has posted scintillating times around Wentworth Park.
Spring Leaf - Another from Andrea Dailly’s kennels which has been in top form of late, making the Paws of Thunder final.
Star Recall - Extremely versatile bitch which was placed twice at Group 1 level in 2014 before finally breaking through for a deserved win at the top level in the Sale Cup on Boxing Day.
Winsome Prince - Won his first 11 starts and looks to be one of the most promising youngsters in New South Wales. Would be interesting to see how he stands up against the elite class away from home.
Zipping Willow - Pin-up Sydney greyhound which has won 20 races at Wentworth Park and 34 overall from 52 starts.
Group 1 Rookie Rebel invitees:
Allen Deed - Also invited to take his place in the Group 1 Temlee. Would be right in the race if he were to accept.
Awesome Project - Looks like he would be suited nicely by the middle-distance run, even though he is a dual Group winner over the sprint trip.
Blinkers On - Handy stayer trained by Brooke Ennis which will be targeted towards the Zoom Top.
Come On Fantasy - Has a handy record over the middle distance for Joe Borg and is a winner of six from 27 overall.
Cornelius Fudge - Ultra-consistent dog which rarely puts in a bad performance. Deserves a shot at a big feature such as this.
Cosmic Wise - Made the Melbourne Cup final over the sprint trip but is much better suited to the middle distance and would make her presence felt in a race like this.
Echelonic Action - Litter brother to Sweet It Is which is nowhere near as fast as his superstar sister but has his share of ability.
Eliza Blanche – Looked like being a superstar when she broke her maiden at The Meadows and she has indicated she has the potential to become a genuine middle-distance campaigner once she matures.
Hostile - Hasn’t been seen so far in 2015 but is a massive talent when on song.
Lady Toy - Recently won the Listed Maidment Memorial, indicating she has plenty more to offer over the longer trip.
Lamia Bale - Well suited over the middle trip. She won the Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial over 595 metres at Sandown last year and this looks to be her caper.
Lillycette – Tassie bitch which held her own over the middle distance when she had a three-week stint in Victoria late last year/early this year.
Mullaway - Queenslander that mixes his form but could feature if he brought his best
My Bro Fabio - Is better known as a sprinter but he would be a massive player if Brooke Ennis decided to accept for the Rookie Rebel rather than the Temlee.
My Mate Cobber - WA sprinter turned stayer which would represent the West well if he were to get his chance to line up.
Ralphy Cinel - Has a serious engine, particularly when drawn on the inside, and is capable of matching it with most on his night.
Ride The Rails - Has been in dazzling form recently and despite being predominantly known as a sprinter, he is another which looks as though he would be suited by the rise in trip.
Sisco Rage – Consistent dog which has won 20 races for trainer John Galea.
Space Star – One of the best stayers in the country, but he holds two track records over the middle trip so he would be right in this race, too.
Star Recall - Scored her Group 1 win over 650 metres at Sale after two placings at the top level over the sprint. It will be interesting to see which race Jeff Britton opts for.
Waymore’s Blues - Another in-form greyhound which is really hitting his straps at present for Kelly Bravo. He always looked to be a super talent and he is finally showing it off.
Group 1 Zoom Top invitees:
Ash Flash - WA stayer which made the final of the National Distance Championship last year and would hold her own if given the chance to start.
Blinkers On - He is capable of a feature win over the staying trip. The son of Comic Rumble and Good Oil is a winner of 10 races from 27 starts.
Flying Twist – Perhaps not of the same class as some of the other invitees but has been racing well enough to deserve an invite for Andrea Dailly.
Lady Toy - Also invited for the Rookie Rebel but she would probably be more suited for the Zoom Top as she tends to get back in her races and charge home.
Luna Jinx - SA stayer which has a handy record in her home state.
My Mate Cobber - The WA dog has put together some excellent performances over the staying trip at Cannington in recent weeks and looks ready to be tested. He is also invited to the Rookie Rebel, but this race looks a better fit.
Opec Bale - Has only just stepped up over the staying trip for Mark Delbridge but he looks like he could be a genuine top stayer in the making.
Psychotic Gold - Reasonable distance runner from South Australia which has done enough for an invitation.
Pumped Up Zaar - Has put in some handy runs at Wentworth Park during his career and has been racing against Group company at his past few starts. Wouldn’t be without claims in a race such as this.
Shall She Rock - Recently broke the track record at Warragul over 680 metres. Can definitely run and would not be out of place in this.
Space Star - Looks to be Australia’s next top stayer and has really made the step up to Group class since joining Rob Britton’s kennel.
Starc - Has been mixing it with some top-grade stayers and he recently led for most of the way in the Group 2 Summer Distance Plate. May be short of top class but is as honest as the day is long.
Sweet It Is - Australia’s staying sweetheart which is an absolute freak. She will have no problems making the cut.
Takahashi - Has an excellent record of 21 wins from 33 starts and appears ready for the challenge of the rise in class.
Zipping Maggie - Excellent stayer on her night which can put in some breathtaking performances.
Zipping Rory - Has been down on his best form recently but is a talented greyhound and deserves a crack at a Group 1 win.
THE 2015 Warragul Cup was taken out in superb fashion in 25.78 by the Terrence Reid-trained Ronray Spirit (8) from a gallant Luca Neveelk (1). The first surprise in the race was Luca Neveelk being clearly crossed early by Jubilea Bale (2). Ronray Spirit started the race off extremely well from the outside and soon found himself challenging Jubilea Bale for early supremacy.
Big Ticket (5) and Sisco Rage (6) both loomed as dangers during the middle stages of the race, but both met interference, leaving the race at the mercy of the son of Cosmic Rumble and Ronray Disco.
The hard luck story of the race was the Kelly Bravo-trained Ride The Rails, which is owned by Nadine Brown and was undoubtedly the sentimental favourite of the race.
The win was the first group victory of Ronray Spirit’s career and takes his career record to 12 wins and two placings from just 18 starts. His prizemoney earnings are just short of $60,000 after pocketing connections $45,000 in tonight’s final.
Special mention to the sensational win in race seven by the Darren McDonald trained Armed And Ready in 25.57. This chaser has a big future ahead of him.
Group Two Warragul Cup Full Results
1st: Ronray Spirit (8) – Terrence Reid
2nd: Luca Neveelk (1) – Gerald Kleeven
3rd: Ride The Rails (4) – Kelly Bravo
4th: Big Ticket (5) – Steven Clarke
5th: Jubilea Bale (2) – Jenny Hunt
6th: Caustic Bale (3) – Steve Collins
7th: Narralee (7) – Stephen Creighton
8th: Sisco Rage (6) – John Galea
1st Split: 6.53
2nd Split: 11.23
Run Home: 14.55
Margins: 1 1/4 x 1/2
Scratchings: Alex’s Entity (9), Droopys Bentley (10)
Six superb finalists have been announced for the 2014 Victorian Greyhound of the Year with the winner to be announced on Friday, February 20.
Three sprinters and three stayers make up the numbers for the prestigious title and, between the six of them, they have won eight Group One races, four Group Two races and three Group Three races.
The finalists won a combined total of more than 100 races throughout 2014 and have earned more than $2.68 million between them.
The finalists in alphabetical order are:
Awesome Project won 19 races in 2014 including the Group Two Gosford Gold Cup and the Group Two Harrison-Dawson in what was a remarkable year for his trainer, Darren McDonald.
The son of Collision and Honour Phase made a further six Group race finals, most notably the Group One Topgun (3rd), the Group One Brisbane Cup (4th) and the Group One Melbourne Cup (6th).
The bonny Dyna Willow had an affinity with Wentworth Park, winning both the Group Three Betfair Cup and the Group Two Summer Distance Plate in the Harbour City in 2014.
The brindle bitch won in three different states (Victoria, NSW and Western Australia) during the year, claiming seven races overall.
Dyna Willow has since been retired and is expected to whelp her first litter to Magic Sprite within the next few days.
The unfashionably-bred sprinter was one of the most consistent greyhounds during 2014, making eight Group finals, finishing out of the placings in only one of those, the Group One Topgun (6th), at what was his first start back from injury.
The black son of Take The Kitty and Key Exit won two Group One races, the Perth Cup and the Brisbane Cup, as well as the Group Three Silver Bullet.
He ran second in the Group One Australian Cup, the Group Two Cranbourne Cup and the Group Two Queensland Derby while he also finished third in the Group One Melbourne Cup.
Trained by Jeff Britton, the gutsy blue bitch won the Group One Sapphire Crown in brilliant fashion before landing further success in the Group Three SA Oaks later in the year.
Owned in SA by Nathan Wilson, she made a further six Group race finals during 2014 with her best performance arguably being a strong second in the Group One Topgun behind Buckle Up Wes.
Sweet It Is
The black powerhouse was a dominant force in the staying ranks throughout 2014, winning four Group One races (Sandown Cup, National Distance Championship, Bold Trease and Association Cup) and one Group Three race (Sydney Cup) over the 700s.
On top of this, the kennel-mate to fellow finalists Keybow and Awesome Project, made a further seven Group finals, finishing either second or third in four of them.
The versatile champion Xylia Allen rounds out the six finalists for Victorian GOTY with her biggest 2014 victory being in the Group One Gold Cup at Albion Park. The daughter of Turanza Bale and Tayah Bale also took out the Group Two McKenna Memorial.
Australia’s highest stakes earner qualified for seven other Group finals during the year, retiring in late 2014 with $743,730 to her name.
There is no doubt the six finalists for the 2014 Victorian Greyhound of the Year are all exceptional athletes, ensuring a tough battle to determine which chaser will take home top honours.
NSW, Western Australia and South Australia have also announced their finalists for greyhound of the year.
NSW has three outstanding finalists in National Sprint Championship heroine Chica Destacada, Group One Megastar winner Tommy Brislane and the Queen of Wentworth Park, Zipping Willow.
WA has three contenders in grand campaigner On Coin and the Linda Britton-trained duo Star Recall (now trained in Victoria by Jeff Britton) and Zelemar Fever.
SA’s title should be a tight finish with Cairnlea Layla, Galilee Spirit, Genghis Kahn, Sidney’s Shadow and Wild Soul all in contention to be crowned the state’s top dog.
A new wave of hopefuls and some seasoned veterans ventured to Cranbourne today to contest six heats of the Group Two Cranbourne Cup. The six heat winners and two fastest seconds will contest next weeks $45,000 to the winner final, with ambitions of joining an already star-studded honour roll.
The first heat saw the Jason Thompson- trained Whodat Knockin’ lead all the way from box seven in 30.36, holding off the fast finishing Wind Whistler by just under half a length. It was a huge run from Wind Whistler after finding trouble on the first turn and rattling to the line late in proceedings. Recruitment ran an honest race to finish third in his first start for Darren McDonald.
Recent Ballarat Cup winner Luca Neveelk headlined the second heat and was sent out as the $2.60 favourite. As expected the Gerald Kleeven- trained speedster speared out to the early lead from box four, but was unable to clear out down the back. Hostile was always going to be very hard to hold out if he could position himself on the speed, and when he lobbed second down the back things were ominous for the early leader. Hostile finished strongly on the rails to win by over a length in 30.24, with Ride The Rails grinding home for third.
Keybow was sent out a raging $1.50 favourite in the third heat from box five but was slow to begin and found trouble early. Once the Kel Greenough- trained Avondale Porche found the front early it was goodnight, with the comeback chaser clearing out to win by nearly six lengths in a slick 30.21. Dyna Geldof and Bit Berger filled the minor placing’s, with Keybow beaten out of sight in seventh after finding constant trouble.
The 2014 Cranbourne Cup winner Banjo Boy lined up in the fourth heat at the $2.40 favourite with hopes of defending his title for Ken Virtue, however the Graham Whitford- trained Zambora Magic was having none of that. The despised 20/1 outsider ran down early leader Ibrox Digger late in proceedings by a half-length in a steady 30.54. Banjo Boy loomed up as a threat on the turn but could only manage third in the run to the line. Bunga Bunga was the unlucky runner in the event after copping a check in the home straight.
The 2007 Cranbourne Cup was won by Vapour Whirl and one of his well performed progeny in Oakvale Destiny will be attempting to etch her name into the same record books as her father. The Jeff Britton- trained star made a fantastic start to her Cranbourne Cup campaign with a dominant performance in the fifth heat of the day, winning by an ever widening five lengths in 30.32. Although she was slow early, the breaks went her way and when she lobbed second on the fence behind early leader Turbo Norris, it was a case of times and margins. Dave Burnett’s quality chaser Kiss Me Ketut was a huge run to finish second after being crossed early by Turbo Norris.
Sonic Pirate provided the second massive shock in the sixth and final heat. The Peter Reinders- trained son of Premier Fantasy and Sonic Jet chased his heart out to come again and beat the much more fancied Weblec Belle at 33/1. When Weblec Belle railed underneath Sonic Pirate to find the front clearly down the back it looked like it was going to be a one act affair, but Sonic Pirate fought back and got up in the last stride in a slow time of 30.64.
The field for the $45,000 to the winner final is as follows :
1 – Wind Whistler – Angela Langton
2 – Sonic Pirate – Peter Reinders
3 – Hostile – Darren Beasley
4 – Luca Neveelk – Gerald Kleeven
5 – Avondale Porche – Kel Greenough
6 – Oakvale Destiny – Jeff Britton
7 – Zambora Magic – Graham Whitford
8 – Whodat Knockin’ – Jason Thompson
Dyna Geldof – Steve Collins
Ibrox Digger – Steven Clarke
STAR Recall has finally broken through for a deserved win at the highest level, claiming tonight’s Group One Sale Cup in terrific fashion.
Beginning brilliantly from box four, the daughter of High Earner and No Recall went straight to the lead and was never headed, holding off a late surge from Star Recall to score in 37.15 over the 650 metre trip.
The race favourite was Sweet It Is which gained a start following the scratching of Zipping Spike from box three. Darren McDonald’s champion bitch began fairly but dropped back to the tail of the field in the early stages, as per usual, and was unable to reel in the leader, finishing third.
Trained by Jeff Britton, Star Recall has been in terrific form since stepping up from the sprints, winning four of her five appearances over the middle distance.
Her victory in the Sale Cup brought her career record to 44 starts for 25 wins and 11 minor placings while she has now earned over $256,000 for connections.
The bonny black speedster has been a superb greyhound for owner Kevin Dover, having been previously placed twice at Group One level.
The former WA star ran third in the 2014 Perth Cup, while she ran second to Chica Destacada in the National Sprint Championship in August while trained by Jeff’s sister Linda.
In addition to this, Star Recall has also made the finals of both the Group One Melbourne Cup and the Group Three Mandurah Cup.
It is unsure where she will be aimed at next.
Four star studded heats of the Group Two Woy Woy Poultry Gosford Gold Cup will be run and won this Friday night over 515m, with thirty two greyhounds vying for a chance to qualify for next week’s $40,000 to the winner final.
Long time greyhound enthusiast Laurie Refalo from Woy Woy Poultry Supplies has again come on board as the races’ major sponsor, with an enticing amount of prizemoney up for grabs next week.
Last year’s victor Awesome Project went onto win the Group Two Harrison-Dawson Final for Victorian mentor Darren McDonald and finished third in the Group One Topgun Final back in October 2014.
Gosford Gold Cup Heat One
Group Two Sandown Shootout Winner Iva Vision (3) will make the trip down from Queensland, after two disappointing runs at his past couple of outings at Albion Park. The son of Ivan Brown, trained by Peter Young, has the ability to recapture the form that saw him clock a sizzling time of 29.27 at Sandown Park last month.
Pocket rocket chaser Magic Display (8) will be looking for her third straight victory on Friday evening, after a very impressive 29.80 performance here last week. Spearing the lids from box two, the Evelyn Harris trained chaser, has an impeccable record at Gosford of three wins and two minor placings from seven starts and should get a beautiful cart across from the wide alley.
Chasing The Line (1) is coming off the back of two sensational wins at Wentworth Park including a sizzling 29.67 performance last week. Ideally drawn near the rails, the Loren Harborne trained speedster recorded a very strong run home of 11.70 last week and will be charging home at the finish.
Gosford Gold Cup Heat Two
Sprinting sensation Zipping Willow (4) will be looking to redeem herself this week after finishing third in the Group Three Christmas Gift Final at Wentworth Park. Making her debut at Gosford on Friday, the daughter of Goodesy and Sirocco Lass has scintillating early pace and will be looking to notch up career win number 34 from start 51.
Ritza Hattie (7) will also make her debut at the track for trainer Mark Gatt and has been consistent of late at Wentworth Park, with some solid placings in free for all company. Despite a wide box draw, this talented daughter of Bombastic Shiraz and Midnight Flare has a very strong motor and will figure at the finish.
Topper Road is beautifully drawn near the rails for trainer Anthony Azzopardi and has early speed to burn. The son of Oaks Road and Uno Emi has been consistent of late at Wentworth Park, recording a solid 29.97 victory at the track two weeks ago. Another Gosford debutant, who has only been unplaced twice in his 13 start career, could run a very cheeky race and qualify for next week’s final.
Gosford Gold Cup Heat Three
Coming off the back of another Group victory for the year, Chica Destacada (5) will again need to overcome a poor box draw to get the fly over this classy field of runners. Doreen Drynan’s chaser was simply amazing in the Group Three Christmas Gift Final two weeks ago, leading all the way from box one in a flying time of 29.62. The daughter of Cosmic Rumble and Eluthra was victorious in her only start at Gosford back in February, recording a blistering time of 29.46.
Queen Esther (3) has speed to burn and is a consistently brilliant beginner. The Noelene Holloway trained chaser had her last start at Gosford in June, where she recorded an outstanding victory over Evil Punk in 29.77. The daughter of Lochinvar Marlow has a love affair with this track, having recorded five wins and two minor placings from just eight starts.
Shoulders (2) is an extremely talented chaser who has a great opportunity to return to the winners circle this Friday night from box two. This beautifully bred son of Cosmic Rumble and Bit Stressed’ last win was a speedy 29.77 performance at Wentworth Park back in October. Making his debut at Gosford for trainer Anthony Azzopardi will need to step cleanly to ensure he’s competitive in this event.
Gosford Gold Cup Heat Four
In form training duo John and Melinda Finn have Anything Less (3) engaged in the least heat, who will be very well supported from box three after sizzling around Wentworth Park two weeks ago in 29.67. The son of Bekim Bale and Casey’s Angel has recorded 11 wins from 18 career starts thus far and has a huge motor when he winds up.
Rue De Kahn (2) returns to Gosford after a few starts at Wentworth Park and flew over the 515m distance at the beginning of this month in 29.74. Ideally drawn near the rails for trainer Dean Swain, the Group One National Futurity winner has two wins from three starts at this track and consistently finishes off her races strongly.
Silent Effective (5) comes into this heat after finishing second in the Goulburn Cup on Sunday. Despite a difficult box draw, the son of Cosmic Rumble and Best Percentage has a blistering personal best of 29.32 at Gosford and has won three out of four over the 515m. Trainer Darren Sultana will be hoping for some luck early on as this greyhound produces very strong finishes.
The first heat will commence at 8.38pm AEDT, with the winner and runner up from each event moving through to next week’s final.
THE early speed will be on in the Sale Cup, to be run on Boxing Day, but there are also several more than handy stayers who have claims on the $75,000 feature.
In what is shaping as an intriguing affair on paper, many of the runners are speedy sprinters, who may be tested by the 650 metre trip, while there are also a few stayers in the mix, giving the race some added strength.
Let’s see what the trainers had to say going into the last Group race of 2014.
|Jeff Britton (Trainer) – “He will probably want to get off the track a little bit so box one is probably not ideal, but we will just wait and see what happens.”|
|Steven McKenna (Trainer) – “It is is favourite box so hopefully he puts his best foot forward. He seemed a little bit flat in his heat, I don’t know whether that may have just been from the travelling, but I am hoping he comes out firing on Friday night. Although I was a little disappointed with his overall time in his heat, he did what he needed to do to make the final and I think he should run out the distance strong. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.”|
|ARG Comment – “Lightly raced dog that faces a tough challenge in the final against some of the best chasers going around in Victoria at present. He isn’t quick early, so will need to stay out of trouble and get a bit of luck in the running.” |
|Jeff Britton (Trainer) – “I wouldn’t say it is ideal how she is drawn, there is a bit of pace drawn directly outside her and that is the last thing that we needed. It was a really good run last week, I am hoping she will just get 20 metres of clear running early in the final, I just don’t know if she is going to get it.”|
|Kelly Bravo (Trainer) – “Initially we thought it was a bad box but not once we saw how the field was drawn. Allen Deed is on her outside and she has a bit of pace on her inside so it probably isn’t too bad. We are hoping she will show enough pace to be up near the lead because I don’t think she would be able to come from behind, she seems to be more of a frontrunner.”|
|George Dailly (Co-Trainer) – “I would rather him drawn on the outside than the inside. The way he went up the straight last week, he only had one dog on his outside and he nearly pushed him out and into the grass early. The wider he is, the better he is. I was very happy with how he went last week overall because I wouldn’t really consider him a true stayer. He had a lot of good dogs chasing him and he hung on well and ran the best of the night, he did a very good job.”|
|Robert Britton (Trainer) – “He has stepped up to the top level very well. He won and won well in his heat, he did it the hard way, but to be honest I thought he might have gone a little bit better. I think there is some improvement in him, I would like to see him run up to his trial time.”|
|ARG Comment – “Ran a top race last week to claim his heat, but his is a very strong final and he will need luck with three wide runners drawn on his direct inside.”|
|Sweet It Is|
|ARG Comment – “Australia’s best stayer who ran a credible second in her heat last week. That was her first start at the track so she is sure to improve. She is one greyhound that should never be discounted.”|
|ARG Comment – “Received a 28 day suspension at Sale for failure to pursue the lure with due commitment. Will not be taking his place in the field, even if there are scratchings.”|
Star Recall (4) has been desperately unlucky not to have won a Group One and I think she will finally get her chance on Friday night. She is blessed with early speed and she should be up near the front early on. She may be threatened early by Kiltah Magic (5) on her direct outside, but that runner wanted to shift off the track a bit last week which shouldn’t hinder Star Recall, a railer. The Jeff Britton-trained greyhound proved that she is very strong with a 37.18 heat win, just three one hundredths off the best of the night set by Allen Deed.
Kiltah Magic was the quickest early last week in the heats, but she cannot afford to let Star Recall slip underneath her on the rails as her overall time was better.
Allen Deed (6) is a Group One winner and is better boxed here than what he would be on the inside. Last week he wanted to get off the track early on, so he will be giving ground if he does that again. He has wide runners boxed directly on his inside and outside so will have to avoid getting tangled up if they are all trying to get off the track at once. If he can get some clear galloping room, he is right in it, but will need some luck.
Agent Jack (2) ran a good race behind Allen Deed last week. He hit a few flat spots but hung on well. I think he should improve off that run and he is boxed where he wants to be tonight, his biggest issue is that he has a runner on his inside that will want to get off on the first turn.
Space Star (7) is all class but will need to be able to adapt to the step down in distance from the longer journey against the top class greyhounds. He wont be able to give any of these too much of a head start.
The Group One Sale Cup is race eight at Sale this Friday and is set to jump at 9:42pm.
Adelaide Cup winner Allen Deed has qualified fastest for the Group One Sale Cup to be run and won on Boxing Day with a superb 37.15 effort tonight over the 650 metre trip.
Starting as the $2.30 favourite from box seven, the son of Jarvis Bale and Greta Bale jumped a little awkward before recovering in the straight to race into third around the first turn. Charging into the back and the Andrea Dailly- trained chaser showed a brilliant burst of acceleration, finding the front and striding to the line two and a half lengths clear of a gallant Agent Jack in second position.
It was just Allen Deed’s second start over the track and distance after being run down by Sisco Rage at his last start. The classy campaigner seemed to derive great benefit from that hit out and will definitely be a key player in Friday’s $75,000 to the winner final.
Another impressive performance was from WA speedster Star Recall which blitzed her rivals to score by just under six lengths in a hot 37.18. It was her first start at Sale and she was ultra impressive, making it her third win from four starts since stepping up over the middle distance.
Now trained in Victoria by Jeff Britton, Star Recall has now won 24 races with 11 minor placings from 43 starts.
Jeff also won the last heat with Texas Titan too good from box one. A member of the fantastic Vapour Whirl – Foot Luce litter, Texas Titan was having his first go over the testing trip, his only other attempt at a middle distance journey being the 595 at Sandown where he won in April.
The striking black dog appeared to get a little tired in the run to the line, although that was to be expected, clocking 37.49.
Jeff’s brother Rob Britton qualified a runner for the final with Space Star claiming the opening heat. The son of Bekim Bale and Tonto Tears relished the wide draw, giving him room to move, sweeping around the outside to race to the lead on the home turn. Although he got a little weary a few metres before the line, Space Star was able to hold on to defeat Deadly Boy by half a length in 37.34.
Sweet It Is was all the rage in the fourth heat, but she was only able manage second behind the Peter Dapiran- prepared Zipping Felix. As per usual, the daughter of Mogambo and Off Springer dropped back to last early before making her move mid-race. However, Darren McDonald’s star stayer found plenty of congestion before powering home to finish under two lengths off the winner that clocked 37.25. All honours were with the winner which put in a gutsy effort himself, flashing home from midfield to score his eight win at start 29.
The remaining heat was taken out by the in form Kelly Bravo kennel with Kiltah Magic. She bounced straight on the bunny from box two and was never in danger, holding out Zipping Spike by two lengths in a speedy 37.21.
The final of the Group One Sale Cup will be run this Friday evening.
The box draw for the final is as follows:
1 TEXAS TITAN – Jeff Britton
2 AGENT JACK – Steven McKenna
3 ZIPPING SPIKE – Darren McDonald
4 STAR RECALL – Jeff Britton
5 KILTAH MAGIC – Kelly Bravo
6 ALLEN DEED – Andrea Dailly
7 SPACE STAR – Rob Britton
8 ZIPPING FELIX – Peter Dapiran
9 SWEET IT IS – RES – Darren McDonald
10 DEADLY BOY – RES – Steven McKenna
Six heats of the Group One Sale Cup will be held tomorrow night over the testing 650 metre trip.
Worth $75,000 to the winner, the Sale Cup was first run 1968 with some stars of the track featuring on the honour roll such as Chariot Supreme, Miss Brook, Mantra Lad and Destini Fireball. Last year’s race was taken out by three time Group One winner Dyna Nalin.
Group One Sale Cup Heat One – 6:48pm
Rob Britton looks set to qualify for another Group One final with the brilliant Space Star (8) drawn ideally in the pink. The son of Bekim Bale and Tonto Tears is a dual track record holder with a massive motor and has been racing competitively at the top level at his last few starts. He has won 13 from 23 and should go close to recording another win here.
Zipping Maggie (4) debuted at the track last week, running fourth behind Dyna Kayla. At the start before that she finished second in the Group Three Summer Cup at Wentworth Park and, although she hasn’t won in a while, she has been racing the nation’s best stayers and has been far from disgraced. She races at her best when leading and looks capable of doing so tonight.
Deadly Boy (1) is having his first start over the track and distance, but has won well at The Meadows over the middle distance so he should be capable of running out the trip. He has a brillant record from box one so should go well from where he wants to be.
Perfect Tess (7) has clocked 34.17 at Sandown Park so must also be respected.
Group One Sale Cup Heat Two – 7:09pm
WA bitch Star Recall remained in the care of Jeff Britton after competing in the Melbourne Cup final and has made quite an impact since stepping up to the middle distance. Although finishing midfield at her last start, she had recorded two slick wins at The Meadows (34.26 and 34.01) prior to that. She should be able to find the lead from box seven and, although it is her first start at Sale, her class should get her over the line.
Tyra Giselle (3) is exceptionally bred being out of the great Paua To Burn, she is a last start 34.64 winner at The Meadows so must be included.
Shall She Rock (2) has been mixing it with some classy chasers of late and should enjoy being drawn in box two whilst Go Jetta Go (8) has a handy record from the pink and should be finishing strongly.
Group One Sale Cup Heat Three – 7:31pm
Eliza Blanche (2) is a highly promising bitch that loves an inside draw and should go close to finding the lead early on. She has been racing against some exceptional chasers lately and has recorded wins at Sandown (34.02) and The Meadows (34.19). Under the care of Darren McDonald she should go well
Allen Deed (7) is drawn out wide where he wants to be and is a freakishly fast greyhound when at his best. He recently contested the Ballarat Cup final before stepping up to the 650 last start when finishing second to Sisco Rage. He should derive great benefit from that run and be better for it when the lids fly open tomorrow night.
Agent Jack (4) is first up since his fourth placing in the Ballarat Cup behind Luca Neveelk. He is a very strong greyhound who should relish the extra distance here.
Group One Sale Cup Heat Four – 8:14pm
Australia’s best stayer, Sweet It Is (2), will be aiming to bounce back from her last start failure in the Group Three Summer Cup and should appreciate the slight drop in grade. She has a tendency to drop out early and find a lot of trouble in running, so she always needs a lot of luck, but on her night she is better than any of these by a long mile.
Sisco Rage (4) defeated Allen Deed over the track and distance in 37.38 at his last start. The advantage of having a look at the track should favour him over a few other runners in this affair.
Ralphy Cinel (8) clocked a flying 33.94 in a heat of the Sir John Dillon Memorial at Sandown two starts back before running third in the final to the in-form Lamia Bale. He doesn’t appear very well suited out wide but he is too fast to leave out.
Group One Sale Cup Heat Five – 8:33pm
Should be a cracking heat with the likely favourites being Hostile (6) and Blinker’s On (7).
Hostile made the step up over the middle distance two starts back and won impressively in a smart 34.19 at The Meadows. He returned the following week and ran second behind Star Recall. That form is solid going into a race like this and, if he can run out the extra 50 metres, he should be in the finish despite the ordinary draw.
Blinker’s On has been knocking on the door for a feature win for a while now and gets his chance to make it through to another Group final here. He finished fifth behind Lamia Bale in the Sir John Dillon Memorial last start but is far better suited over this journey.
Kiltah Magic (2) will go close to leading from her inside draw and should be up near the front for a long way. She ran a fast 33.96 at Sandown two starts back but she is unraced over the 650 so it will be a big test for her.
Mepunga Hayley (3) is the class runner as the winner of the Group One Maturity Classic earlier this year but she is racing below her best at the moment and is a little hard to follow.
Group One Sale Cup Heat Six – 9:15pm
Dyna Kayla (6) is hard to follow but is a flying machine when she is on the task. She recorded a fast 37.11 win over the track and distance last start and a repeat of that would see her hard to beat, despite being drawn in box six.
Texas Titan (1) looks suited by the rise in distance here. He is a moderate beginner over the sprint trip but may find himself near the lead early here and he would be hard to run down if he is on the bunny.
Zipping Rory (8) is a recent winner of the Summer Cup at Wentworth Park before finishing at the tail of the field at his track debut last week. He is a classy dog but will need a bit of luck to cross from box eight.
Volksjager Blue (2) is a litter brother to Shot To Bits and he has run some handy placings over the middle distance at Geelong recently. He may not be quite good enough to win, but he can definitely run on into a minor placing.
The Hobart Thousand is the oldest race in Australia and has been won by some of the sport’s finest since it was first run in 1935.
The 2014 Group One Hobart Thousand will see a terrific lineup of some of the most promising young chasers in the country.
Lets have a look at each runner individually.
|Steven Clarke (Trainer) - He has got his box so hopefully he takes advantage of it. He can be a little bit tardy from the boxes but if he can begin with them he certainly has the speed to match it with them.|
|ARG Comment – Melbourne Cup winner that was very impressive in his 25.94 heat win. Has been jumping consistently well lately and would prove very hard to catch if he bounces on the bunny.|
|ARG Opinion – Has won five of his last seven and began well last week but he comes up against a terrific field and looks like he will have to improve a few lengths or hope for a lot of interference to win.|
|Kelly Bravo (Trainer) – It is probably not the greatest box for him because he needs a clear few strides early to get moving, if he gets that he goes ok.|
|ARG Opinion – His heat run was his first start since finishing fourth in the Group One Melbourne Cup behind Dyna Villa. He put in a terrific run last week and is right in the race if he can begin cleanly.|
|Anthony Bullock (Trainer) – I give him a big chance. I think it depends on what the one (Big Ticket) and the two (Dyna Villa) do at the start…if he begins like he did last week I will be very happy.|
|Ride The Rails|
|Kelly Bravo (Trainer) – His heat run was impressive. Hopefully being drawn off the track will allow him to get clear room to get into the race and he won’t find too much trouble. The Tassie dog in the pink (Señor Slamma) seems to go pretty straight, it doesn’t crash down to the fence, so as long as he (Ride The Rails) can begin with them I think he will improve a lot from his heat.|
|Gary Johnson (Trainer) – He likes the outside but the key to the dog is that he has got to jump to win. He usually runs pretty good sections and his second section is where he usually clears out away from them.|
|ARG Comment – A very fast greyhound that is capable of clocking some scintillating times. He is tardy at box rise but has great acceleration when he is given time and room to balance up. Will need luck if he gains a start but is more than capable on his night.|
|Buckle Up Wes|
|ARG Comment – Class runner of the field that has been a little disappointing at his last two starts. Despite this, he is one of the best dogs in the race and would prove hard to beat if he gains a start|
Dyna Villa (2) is the class runner of the race. He is the winner of this year’s Melbourne Cup and is a genuine Group One star. He is drawn well in box two on Thursday night and if he can get room to move in the early stages he should get to the front and prove very hard to run down.
A few of the dogs in this race are hit and miss early but, if they time the start right, they can really fly. Big Ticket (1) looks to be a quality dog in the making and he has the ability to match it with any of these if he begins with them. Box one will help him but he can’t afford to let them get away from him in the early stages. He is the fastest qualifier coming into the race so must be respected.
Above All (5) ran a phenomenal race in his heat after striking trouble in the early stages. He didn’t manage to break 26 but the style of the win was amazing. You would think if he steps well he is good enough to challenge for the lead and take out the title.
Senor Slamma (8) is in terrific form as a winner of 11 of his past 12 starts, but he comes up against a whole new class of greyhound tonight and will have to make a big step up in grade.
Ride The Rails (7) has had two starts back since fracturing a hock for two outstanding wins. He is fast enough to win but he can mix his box manners and that won’t be any help in a Group One field. Hellyeah Bolt (6) is a quality dog but his form is hit and miss. He was back to his best last week but it is a big ask to do it again the following week and he only has an average strike rate from the green. Not saying he can’t win, but he would need to do everything right.
While all the focus will be on the Group 1 Hobart Thousand, the R.W (Bob) Brown Memorial Consolation event will again take its regular spot on Tassie’s biggest night, and as such stands as much a part of the Thousand series as the heats and final itself.
Since 1999, the consolation event has been named in memory of the late Robert William “Bobbie” Brown, the local legendary trainer whose name is etched all over the in the history of the race, and sport in the state of Tasmania.
Apart from being a stellar boxer (a winner of 69 of 72 bouts fought), Bob Brown became an inductee of the Tasmanian Greyhound Hall of Fame in 2008. He was witness to every Hobart Thousand that took place during his lifetime, from the first running in 1939 right up until his death which actually occurred on December 17, 1998; the same day 59th running of the race.
Despite winning just about everything a trainer could win on the Apple Isle, the Hobart Thousand eluded him as a trainer. However it remains a great gesture for the Hobart club to honour him with what has proven to be a high-class listed event in its own right.
One doesn’t have to look back any further than to last years’ race when a virtually unknown-at-the-time black dog named Buckle Up Wes took it out, with the eventual Launceston Cup winner, Varcoe, third in the same event.
Emerald Lee won the 2011 version for Debbie Cannan, while Penny’s Angel led all the way previous to that. Even a Victorian in Banger Harvey can be seen on the recent honour roll for the Bob Brown Memorial.
But the 2014 running of the race is arguably the best version to date, with five of the seven runners coming second in their respective heats last week.
Though Buckle Up Wes isn’t there to go back to back, there are three interstate chasers that have remained to challenge an excellent crop of local stars.
Kelly Bravo will take a duo of chasers into the main event two races later, and her chaser Hekate Belle was less than a half-head away of making it a Group 1 trio. It couldn’t quite catch Senor Slamma from box one on that occasion, but gets the chance to atone from the same draw this week. It will likely be one the favourites, with a consistent form line in the past month.
Fellow Victorian, Kicking Rocks had no problems coming out the 461-metre start last week, but found Big Ticket a touch too fast. It broke 26 seconds on that occasion being beaten narrowly and a repeat would go close to getting it back into the winners’ circle for master trainer, Darren McDonald.
While Nicole Mcrae’s veteran Walk Hard could only manage fourth in its heat, it was the manner in which the son of Bit Chili finished the event that suggests it will be hard to beat. While he may be giving away youth to his rivals, the dog is no stranger to the Elwick track and with any luck in running will be storming over the top.
The race won’t be an all-Victorian show, as Night Tremors and Bruny Venture couldn’t be racing in better fashion to defend their home turf.
Trainer Eileen Thomas would be well aware of the brilliant mid-race burst the Night Tremors possesses, and it will be right in the picture again from the outside draw. Given the amount of interstate talent, this Tassie youngster could well be the knockout dog for punters looking for a bit of value.
Likewise for Bruny Venture, who despite the six-rug should be well in the race at the half way point and well placed to capitalise on any mid-race bother that may come the way of those behind him.
The R.W Bob Brown Memorial Consolation is scheduled to run at 9.05pm as race six on Hobart’s Thursday night fixture – a race that carries a lot more weight than the $4465 on offer for the winner.
R.W Bob Brown Memorial Consolation Box Draw
Box 1 – Hekate Belle – Kelly Bravo
Box 2 – Kicking Rocks – Darren McDonald
Box 3 – Wynburn Rush – Ben Englund
Box 4 – Warehouse Mouse – Mick Stringer
Box 5 – Bit Hot Rusty – Shane Whitney
Box 6 – Bruny Venture – Gary Fahey
Box 7 – Walk Hard – Nicole Mcrae
Box 8 – Night Tremors – Eileen Thomas
Izon Destruction – Shane Whitney
Lamia Bale (2) notched up her third victory within the space of a week when taking out tonight’s Group Three Sir John Dillon Memorial at Sandown Park.
Stepping brilliantly from box two in the 595 metre feature, the Steve Collins trained bitch strode straight to the front and was never in doubt, stretching out beautifully to record a three and a half length triumph in a scintillating 34.09.
Starting at $4.50, Lamia Bale defeated the Darren McDonald trained Awesome Project (1) which was sent out as the punter’s elect at $3.00. The son of Collision and Honour Phase railed through into second spot early and held his position well, although he was no match for the winner which was in a class of her own out in front.
The fastest qualifier from the heats, Ralphy Cinel (7), ran on well to grab third after railing underneath Joey Valdez (3) to sneak into the placings.
Lamia Bale has now won 10 races from 33 racetrack appearances. After winning her heat of the Sir John Dillon last Thursday, the daughter of High Earner and Maple Bale returned to the races last Sunday to score in a heat of the Group Two Laurels Classic in a hot 29.37.
She will venture back to Sandown Park on the weekend for her semi-final of the bitches only series where she will need to finish in the top two to secure a berth in the decider on December 21.
2014 Group Three Sire John Dillon Memorial Full Results
1. Lamia Bale (Box 2) – Steve Collins
2. Awesome Project (Box 1) – Darren McDonald
3. Ralphy Cinel (Box 7) – Joe Borg
4. Joey Valdez (Box 3) Ben Divirgilio
5. Blinker’s On (Box 4) – Brooke Ennis
6. Skyfire (Box 8) – Shane Drummond
7. Nockabout Aussie (Box 6) – Peter Akathiotis
8. Flying Twist (Box 5) – Andrea Dailly
Scratchings – Starc (1st Res), Big Kat (2nd Res)
Margins: 3 1/2 x 1 1/2
A cracking field will contest the 2014 running of the Group Three Sir John Dillon Memorial tomorrow night. Run over 595 metres at Sandown Park, the race will see some of the state’s elite sprinters make the step up in trip while some of its consistent stayers will drop back down to the middle distance.
Lets take a look at the runners in this year’s race and hear what their connections have to say about their chances.
|Darren McDonald (Trainer) – He should go alright, he has got a good box and he has had a good week so he has no reason not to go well. He will be relying on a couple of the other dogs, the two and the three get off the track, so hopefully he can get a run through and be pretty competitive.|
|Steve Collins (Trainer) – “She wants the middle of the track but I still think the draw will suit her because she can angle out on the corner. I think her and the one (Awesome Project) will be the frontrunners and I think she will probably make the race for him. She runs about three wide for most of the trip, he has probably got the right draw on the inside of her. She will probably shepherd him away from the other dogs going into the corner, but it just depends on how he comes out and how she comes out.”|
|Ben Divirgilio (Trainer) – Box three probably suits him. There is speed in the one and two but Blinker’s On doesn’t have much pace, hopefully he can do everything right to put himself in the race. It was his first go at the 595 last week and he got a little bit lost going through the catching pen so I think he will find a little bit on that run.|
|Brooke Ennis (Trainer) – He is drawn ok, but it is probably not his suited distance. He put in quite a good run last week, he got squeezed coming out of the boxes and he made his way though the field quite good. I think he will be better for the run, he hadn’t had much work going into his heat after the Bold Trease. He has just got to do everything right and hopefully he can be up near the leaders early.|
|ARG Opinion – Does not have a great record from the draw or over the track and distance. Lacks the early zip of some of the other runners and is probably better suited over the staying trip.|
|Peter Akathiotis (Trainer) – The draws haven’t been kind to him lately, he has been getting five, six, seven and eight and he is not really suited to them. He is not a brilliant beginner, his strength is his finish so I am hoping he can run a place. I can envisage a fair bit of trouble in the race because there are a few dogs that want to get to the lead early and they are starting on the bend so I want him to miss the kick a little bit and go back to the rail.|
|ARG Comment – Dazzling heat winner last Thursday but he does not have a great record from the outside boxes. If he can step cleanly and position himself well in the early stages he will take a power of beating but he will have to overcome his dislike of wide draws to do so.|
|Shane Drummond (Trainer) – I just hope he gets a clear run. I think the eight will suit him because I think some of the others might crash to the rails and he doesn’t do that so hopefully he can stay wide and get a clear run around them through the first bend.|
|ARG Comment – Very strong chaser but takes a while to start his motor. Probably not well suited to this distance and class.|
|ARG Comment – Looks outclassed and will need a lot of help if she were to gain a start.|
Awesome Project (1) is in the best kennel in Australia and he was very good in claiming his heat in 34.23 last Thursday. He did get a little tired in the final stages but that was to be expected at his first run over the middle distance since winning over 600 at Gosford in November last year. Lamia Bale (2) is expected to shift off the track which would provide him with a trouble free run on the rails and if he steps and is able to hold his position he should take a power of beating.
Lamia Bale (2) is in terrific form and was a dominant 34.11 heat winner at her 595 metre debut last week. She will want to get off the track a bit so it is important that she clears the field before doing so to avoid causing herself trouble.
Joey Valdez (3) has been crying out for the middle distance for a long time and was solid in his second placing behind Awesome Project last week. He did a few things wrong in his run last week and with an attempt at the trip under his belt he should improve.
Blinker’s On (4) drops back in trip which isn’t ideal but he is probably the strongest runner in the race. He can’t afford to give them too much of a start but if he gets clear room he is a major player.
Ralphy Cinel (7) is the fastest qualifier and broke the elusive 34 second barrier in his heat but he is not as good from the outside as he is from the inside. He is normally a great beginner but can’t afford to do anything wrong against this classy lineup.
The Apple Isle’s most prestigious series, the Group One Hobart Thousand, kicks off this Thursday night at Hobart with eight heats of the time honoured feature. Each heat victor will go through to the $75,000 to the winner final which will be held the following Thursday on December 18.
The Hobart Thousand is the oldest feature race in Australia and was first run back in 1935 as the Hobart Cup at the old TCA grounds. It was first run as the Hobart Thousand in 1939 before reverting back to the the Hobart Cup in 1942 for two years. The race was not held in 1944 or 1945 due to the war but recommenced in 1946 as the Hobart Thousand and has remained under that name to this day.
The Tassie race has been won by some stars of the sport including Rookie Rebel (1958), Ophir Doll (1961-62), Benjamin John (1969), Black Aztec (1981), Brother Fox (1985) and Dyna Tron (2011).
Lets have a look at the heats of this year’s race.
Heat One – 7:58pm
The first lot of Victorian raiders step out in the first heat, looking to dominate yet another feature race series.
Hekate Belle (1) is a classy bitch but she can be hard to catch as she does tend to be hit and miss at the start. Box one should be a big advantage for her and she boasts a great record from the cherry with six starts for three wins and two minor placings. As a recent 29.29 winner at Sandown, she is definitely one to keep an eye out for from the inside.
Scenic Shot (3) will start very close to favourite in the opener. She comes into the series as a last start winner at Warrnambool where she clocked a BON 25.42. The Victorian city winner will be aiming to emulate the feats of her father, Dyna Tron, which won the race in 2011, while her trainer, Michelle Mallia-Magri, took out the 2012 running with Blackalls Boss.
Señor Slamma (8) is the best local shot in the heat and is one of the most consistent sprinters in Tasmania at present. The well named son of El Grand Señor and Tequila Mall has only been beaten once in his past 11 starts and he has run 25.88 over the track and distance. He only has one win from six starts wearing pink but he is a quality dog and should be right in contention for a berth in the final.
Heat Two – 8:19pm
The second heat will see just seven runners face the starter. 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Dyna Villa (4) is one of the most promising chasers in the country but he will have to contend with an awkward draw in box four. He comes into the race following his last start in a heat of the Ballarat Cup where he finished third behind the eventual series winner Luca Neveelk. He has trialled in 25.92 in preparation for this assignment so despite the poor draw he is right in the race if he can get some clear galloping room early.
Top Secret (2) is another Victorian which has won 11 races from 41 career starts. He has been racing a little below his best at his last few runs, albeit against top company, but if he can find his feet he is a great shot.
Wynburn Wizard (6) is a local chaser capable of breaking the 26 second barrier which puts him right into calculations. The box won’t help but he is a very consistent boy as a winner of nine from 22 and he will only need a little bit of luck to feature in the finish.
The remainder of the field are pretty even. Pipstar (8) could provide a bit of value, she has won four at the track with a best time of 26.05 and she wont mind being drawn out wide in the pink.
Heat Three – 8:41pm
Size Does Matter (3) is a recent edition to the Rodney Ransley kennel in Tassie, transferring from Brooke Ennis late last month. Ennis still owns the son of Bekim Bale and Size It Up and will be hoping that he can go better than his Tasmanian debut where he finished fifth behind Señor Slamma. He has only won once from four attempts from box three. Looking at his box statistics, it is interesting to note that he has won eight of his 14 races from box one, which he has drawn 11 times during his 33 start career.
Blurred Lines (4) is capable of putting some slick times on the board but he can be hard to catch. He has been racing some great dogs lately so his form is probably better than it reads, but he still has a tough task ahead from box four.
Brunys Venture (7) looks to be a very promising youngster, but this will be his biggest test to date from box seven. He has run BON times at Hobart, Devonport and Launceston throughout his career and has won two of his last three over the track and distance. Definitely the leading local hope in this heat.
Heat Four – 9:05pm
Quartz Bale (2) has been dominant in his limited starts back home in WA, winning nine of 11 racetrack appearances to date. The 38 kilogram light fawn dog is in the hands of Paul Stuart and has had a look at the track last Saturday, running 25.98 on trial morning. Being such a big boy, it does take him a while to find top gear, but he does have plenty of upside and will only need a bit of luck in running to go close to winning.
Ride The Rails (5) bounced back to his best form with a dazzling 29.23 Sandown victory last week. Now trained by Kelly Bravo, the son of Cosmic Chief and Pearl Napoleon has the potential to blow this field away if he brings his best on Thursday night.
Punk Pirate (3) heads to Hobart from Victoria as a winner of five of his past seven starts. He had no luck in his heat of the Ballarat Cup, finishing seventh behind Blue Giant. He is more than capable of reversing that result and going close here.
That Was Then (6) is a track specialist which has won eight races at Hobart while Get It Right (7) and Night Tremors (8) have had just 16 and 13 starts respectively. Both have strong strike rates and look like they can make the step up in class.
Heat Five – 9:25pm
Tasmanian champ Buckle Up Wes (1) is a dual Group One winner which will be looking to score his first success at the elite level in his home state. He put in an average run last start at Hobart but he is the class runner of the race and he is undoubtably the one to beat. He loves the track, as a winner of eight from 14 with a best of 25.77. He would probably be better boxed a few off the rails but he still has a fantastic record from the red with four wins from five starts.
Hellyeah Bolt (5) hasn’t been racing at his best recently but he has a 25.76 personal best here and is too good to leave out when on song, despite having to overcome box five.
Waymore’s Blues (6) looked like being an outstanding sprinter earlier in his career but he has been a little disappointing. I still maintain that he is capable of winning a group race, just not sure he is going well enough for this to be the one.
Punk Panther (2) is a more than handy sprinter but this will be a big test for him.
Heat Six – 9:45pm
Some great youngsters engaged in this heat including Kicking Rocks (7) from the Darren McDonald kennel. Despite winning nine from 21, I don’t think people realise how fast this bloke actually is. Earlier this year he broke his maiden in at The Gardens in an airborne 29.30, a time usually reserved for Group class greyhounds. He should be right in this race after trialling in 26.09 on a slow track.
Big Ticket (3) looks like being the real deal too and the Victorian pup will be having his first race start at Hobart after a 25.96 trial last Thursday. He loves the inside so should be suited in box three.
Axis Bale (6) has only had nine starts but has shown promise. He will have to overcome box six but he does look to be very talented.
Heat Seven – 10:08pm
Above All (4) hasn’t had a start since finishing fourth in the Group One Melbourne Cup last month but the former Kiwi has run 25.84 in a trial to prepare for his Hobart debut. A winner of six races from just 10 starts, it is a testament of his class that he has been able to mix it with the best Australia has to offer so successfully with such little experience. He will be a short favourite.
Good Odd Demons (1) is a little below his best and doesn’t have a great record at Hobart, but he has his favourite draw from which he has recorded five wins from seven starts.
Winsome Tommy (8) has won two at the track and doesn’t mind being boxed out wide, but he will probably need to improve on his 26.32 pb to win the race.
Heat Eight – 10:28pm
White Spyro (5) is back to her best and has had one start at Hobart for a 26.26 win last month. You would expect her to improve on that time with a look at the track.
National Time (6) has been mixing his form but is right up to this class. He has won six races from box six so, although it is not ideal, he should be able to overcome the poor draw.
Buckle Up Fletch (7) is a younger half brother to Tassie champ Buckle Up Wes and he looks to have his fair share of ability. He doesn’t mind being off the track so I can’t see box seven posing any issues.
Walk Hard (3) is yet to win in his two starts since returning from a spell but he is a very fast animal on the bunny. He made the final of the Hobart Thousand two years ago, it would be an incredible achievement to contest the 2014 edition too.
Less than 24 hours after star chaser Keybow won the Group One Brisbane Cup at Albion Park, his Hunter Valley based owner Kel Lean was already driving back down to Sydney to start work.
The father of four flew back to New South Wales in the early hours of Friday morning, giving him just enough time to celebrate his speedster’s success in the Sunshine State with his wife Michelle.
Trained by Darren McDonald, Keybow started a $2.40 favourite to take out the Brisbane Cup. Despite his short quote, it was never going to be an easy race for him to win.
Also in the field was last year’s winner Kiss Me Ketut (Box 8), gun Queensland sprinter Iva Vision (Box 2) and sizzling beginner Exhibitionist (Box 4).
“I don’t get overly confident going into races because there is generally eight good dogs in these finals and I know how hard it can be to win a fifth grade final let alone a Group One final”, Kel said of his thoughts going into the race.
Punters expected Keybow to circle the field and lead from box seven, but that didn’t happen.
Stepping slightly tardy, the black greyhound mustered pace in the run to the first turn, a good feat considering he had Kiss Me Ketut applying pressure on his outside.
Down the back and he was looming as an ominous threat on the outside of the leader, You Can Talk (Box 3) but had to dig deep as Fusaichi Kahn (Box 6) joined the leading duo three wide, forcing Keybow into a high speed sandwich.
Keybow showed his might and determination, pushing through the pair to find the front and racing away to triumph by three and one quarter lengths in 29.98.
“He needed to do a lot of work and he needed a few things to go right for him to win that race, he was really gutsy in the end and he showed his class to get the win”, Kel said.
“It was a very tough performance and I had my heart in my mouth when they were down the back, not knowing if he was going to get spat out the back. He did well, he pushed through and he showed his will to chase.
“It was a gutsy win. There are a lot of dogs that would have pulled out if they got in a sandwich like that but he pushed through, came out the other side and ended up putting a few lengths on them.”
The Group One triumph took Keybow’s prize money earnings to a whopping $483,885. In addition to the Brisbane Cup, Keybow has claimed the Group One Perth Cup and the Group Three Silver Bullet during a career that has seen him face the starter 38 times for 18 wins and 11 minor placings.
To see Keybow going from strength to strength on the track is especially rewarding for Lean and his family because he was bred in their backyard from the first bitch they ever owned.
The son of Take The Kitty and Key Exit remains a part of the family and Kel said he hasn’t forgotten them either.
“We went down and saw him after the race and on his way home and he was happy go lucky, ready to go again, up on his toes and with his tail wagging a hundred miles an hour.
“As soon as he heard my voice his ears pricked up and the tail started going, even after being with Darren for twelve months he still remembers who I am.”
Kel said Darren will now give Keybow a few weeks off. It has been a tough campaign for the 30.8 kilogram rocket with his six runs back from a spell seeing him contest the Topgun (6th), Silver Bullet (1st), Melbourne Cup (3rd) and Brisbane Cup (1st).
“He is going to have a couple of weeks off, his fitness is there but he has had a pretty gruelling past month and a half with six pretty hard runs. After his few weeks off he will get set for Cranbourne in the new year.”
And Kel is set to enjoy the remainder of the journey with Keybow whose success has changed the lives of himself and his whole family.
“The ride has been unbelievable. It is life changing and just incredible, it still feels unreal.”