Mount Gambier Week in Review
Memorial winner ‘a little ripper’
Malevolent Girl (No. 3) finishes strongly to defeat Federal Flash and Mister Banjo in the Newman McDonnell Memorial final.
For Branxholme-based Laughlan McLean, a 38-year-old truck driver/farm worker come part-time greyhound trainer – and partner Taylor Marsh-Stewart – it’s been a ripper of a year.
First, mid-year, there was the birth of their son Mahli prior to Malevolent Girl bursting onto the scene at Tara Raceway in August when winning a heat and the final of the Carlin & Gazzard Winter Classic (512 metres).
She’s the 26-month-old daughter of Sennachie x Won’t Stop Her that McLean picked up as a three-month-old pup for $1500. Later, he purchased a couple of black bitches from her second litter – by Zac Monelli and now 12 months old.
Malevolent Girl was back in Mount Gambier last week for heats of the Newman McDonnell Memorial, a time-honoured grade five series run over 512 metres. And she secured a spot in the final when defeating Four Longnecks in the fastest of the three heats – 29.94 seconds.
The McDonnell Memorial final never disappoints – it’s always a terrific race and last Sunday was no exception as Malevolent Girl headed to the boxes an even money favourite.
She quickly put herself into the race when smartly away from box three but down the back straight it was Federal Flash who established a big break over the favourite and Mister Banjo.
And with a personal best time of 29.61 seconds the white and brindle dog looked to be well on the way to giving Allendale East trainer David Peckham his fourth McDonnell Memorial success.
However, in the run home it was Malevolent Girl who finished powerfully when defeating Federal Flash by a half-length in 29.89 seconds. In third spot, a further 1¼ lengths back, was the Tracie Price trained Mister Banjo.
“She’s a real little ripper,” an emotional McLean said after the race. “She’s the sort of dog that just doesn’t like to be beaten and gives it her all. I just love her.”
He said he would now give serious consideration to returning to Tara Raceway for next month’s Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup (512 m), heats of which will be run on December 10 and the final a week later.
Newman McDonnell was a member of the inaugural South Eastern Greyhound Racing Club committee that was formed on September 14, 1972 at a public meeting in Mount Gambier.
Seven years later when greyhound racing commenced in Mount Gambier out at the Glenburnie racecourse he was president of the club.
In attendance on Sunday for the 38th running of the Newman McDonnell Memorial were his daughter, Margaret Considine and her son and daughter, John and Mary.
Speaking at the presentation, Mrs Considine said greyhound racing in Mount Gambier had certainly evolved since her father’s involvement in those tumultuous times leading up to the opening meeting at Glenburnie in July 1979.
“From a racing point of view, the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club with its twice-weekly race meetings is now really leading the way in the region.
“And with something like 24 races being beamed weekly into hotels, clubs and homes, as well as overseas, it could be said that the local greyhound racing club is taking Mount Gambier to the world.”
Maiden winners off to a flying start
It took a while – 12 starts in fact – but Saint Tommy certainly made up for lost time at last Thursday’s time-graded meeting at Tara Raceway.
In the Glencoe kennels of Dean and Edna Fennell since mid-October the son of Tommy Shelby and Mepunga Prue was having only his third start since transferring from Koroit breeder-owner Peter Byrne.
The black and white dog went into Thursday’s first race – the Exchange Printers Maiden Stake (400 metres) – on the back of an 8½ length third placing behind Moonlight Sid in a quick 23.01 seconds at the previous Sunday meeting.
But this was always going to be his day, Saint Tommy coming out running from box four before registering a 14½ length resounding win over Always Hope in a more than tidy 23.26 seconds.
In race two, the Metal Worx Maiden Stake (305 m), Captain Rosie ran right up to her pedigree when leading all the way at start number five for a 3¼ length win over coming winner Magic Tom in a quick 17.57 seconds.
Raced by The Nineofus Syndicate and trained at Allendale East by David Peckham, Captain Rosie is by US sire Superior Panama out of Sweet On Me, a winner of 21 races which included the 2020 Mount Gambier Summer Classic.
Later in the day, litter sister and “charity greyhound” Mocambora Mia led all the way when defeating Cadillac Queen by 3½ lengths in the Gambier Vets TG1-4W Stake (400 m) in a time of 23.49 seconds.
The brindle bitch is owned and trained at Cape Bridgewater by Scott Blacksell, who donated $100 to the Mia Powell Tara Tipsters charity jar after Mocambora Mia won her maiden on August 3. And after last week’s win he added a further $50 to the Visually Impaired Club of Mount Gambier.
The third maiden of the day was the Williams Crane Hire Maiden Stake (305 m). And it was Zombieland, owned and trained at Compton by Robert Chuck, who won on debut in the tidy time of 17.79 seconds.
The nicely-bred February 2022 son of Hooked On Scotch and Miss Bellawood was purchased as a pup by Chuck, along with litter sister Blue Phoenix who is expected to debut later this month.
Another member of the Adelaide-bred litter to find its way down to the south east is Just Alfie, raced by the Bartholomew family. The blue dog won on debut on October 29 when defeating Moonlight Sid by 1¼ lengths over 400 metres in 23.37 seconds.
Meanwhile, at Sunday’s meeting it was first starter Barra Banjo who just held out kennelmate Aston Cherokee for a narrow win in the Commercial Hotel Stake (400 m) in 23.44 seconds for Compton trainer Tracie Price.
By Fernando Bale, Barra Banjo is out of El Rapido, also the dam of 17-race winner Mister Banjo (by Zambora Brockie) who later on Sunday finished third in the Newman McDonnell Memorial final won by Malevolent Girl.
And in the Hyland Fox Juvenile Stake (400 m), the Price-trained Wild Banker, a son of US sire Need My Moneynow and Wild Marilyn, continued to impress when leading all the way and defeating Just Alfie by 4½ lengths in 22.90 seconds.
A busy month for greyhound racing
The running of another Tara Tipsters Cup, this time once again recognising the Visually Impaired Club of Mount Gambier, kicks off a busy December at the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s Tara Raceway on Lake Terrace East.
The cup, an eight-dog race over 512 metres, is framed at the grader’s discretion and run on Sunday, December 3 prior to a presentation to representatives of the local charity.
Then, at the time-graded meeting on Thursday, December 7, heats of the final Fast Forward series for the year will be run over 400 metres for 1-4 wins greyhounds.
Selected from “Worst to Best” category, the Fast Forward final – to be run for Category 2 prize money a week later – comprises the eight greyhounds running the fastest times in the heats, regardless of their finishing positions.
Heats of the Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup/Border Challenge (Open, 512 m) will be decided on Sunday, December 10. They will be complemented by heats of the Peter Whitehead Memorial (Maiden, 400 m), and the Santa Sprint (Open, 400 m).
Highlighting the Sunday, December 17 meeting is the Williams Crane Hire Christmas Cup final. Other supporting events on the day are the Christmas Challenge (Grades 5/6, 600 m), the Merry Masters (305 m) and the Dasher Distance (732 m).
And subject to meeting the Border Challenge criteria, the first four over the line in the Christmas Cup final will also be Mount Gambier’s first choices to represent the club in the Warrnambool v. Mount Gambier Border Challenge (450 m) in Warrnambool on Thursday, December 21.
As far as Mount Gambier conditions are concerned for the Border Challenge, trainers must have had starters at 15 Mount Gambier meetings in the past 12 months. And they must have trained the greyhound nominated for the previous three months.
Also, the greyhound must have started at least four times in the past 12 months at Tara Raceway.
The Christmas Cup goes back to 2011 when it was won by the David Peckham trained Napoleon Wiz. Winners since have been 2012 Lika Gem (Allen Williams), 2013 Bourne Again (David Peckham), 2014 Who’s Doing What (Tracie Price) and 2015 Fear The Rascal (Tracie Price).
In 2016 the Christmas Cup was won by Glenville Jester (Richard Clayfield), 2017 Hit The Runway (Nicole Stanley), 2018 Hutch (Robert Halliday), 2019 Squishy Pea (David Peckham), 2020 Golly Gumdrops (Tracie Price), 2021 Bungaloo Anne (John Little) and 2022 Aston Ziebell (David Peckham).
The Border Challenge was first run over 450 metres at Warrnambool on December 5, 2019 when won by the home track representative Lektra Fireball, trained by Phil Lenehan.
Representing Mount Gambier on the night were Wanchai Express (Nicole Stanley), Galactic Mojo (Steve Bartholomew) and Flash Jackie (David Peckham).
But with Covid and the border closures that followed, it wasn’t until last year that the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club finally staged its first home track Border Challenge.
Once again, though, it was Warrnambool that came out on top after Max Power, trained at Dennington by Dustin Drew, defeated the Jason Newman trained local hope Wind Burn Flash by 1½ lengths in 29.88 seconds.
Other local representatives were Aston Ziebell (David Peckham), Banjo Bert (Tracie Price), Aston Marlon (David Peckham) and Departure Gate (Jason Newman).