Mount Gambier Cup Prep in full swing

Racing News

Memorial win highlights local owner-trainer’s big day

Captain Rosie’s impressive win in last Sunday’s inaugural Connie Miller Memorial, run at Tara Raceway over 512 metres for grade five greyhounds, was the highlight of a big day for Allendale East owner-trainer David Peckham.

Away quickly from box eight, the black bitch never looked in any danger of defeat when leading all the way for a 2½ length win over Mister Cadillac in 29.76 seconds.

By US sire Superior Panama, Captain Rosie is out of Sweet On Me, a winner of 21 races, 12 of those including a win over Bay Me in the Mount Gambier 2020 Summer Classic while being trained by Peckham.

In 1983-1984 Connie Miller had assumed the role of secretary of the South East Greyhound Racing Club as it was then known. With the exception of 1996-1997 she continued in her secretarial role until 2002-2003.

In the 1990s she received Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club life membership and was also recognised by the SA greyhound racing industry with an Outstanding Service to the Industry award.

And given the length of time Peckham and Miller had been together, it’s probably fair to say that the Memorial win was a fitting result.

Actually, last Sunday had been something of a day of highlights for Peckham – four winners his best effort at the local track since November 2 last year when Lynette Ann, Bella Prue, Aston Piston, Sweet Lynette, Captain Red Tin and Bourne Nancy were successful.

His four winners also included a litter treble – Captain Rosie’s brother Bourne Panama winning the Metal Worx Maiden Stake (305 m) and sister Mocambora Mia back among the winners for the first time since early November in the Todd’s Photographic Stake (400 m).

Bourne Panama opened up a handy early break but turning for home lost the lead to the heavily backed first starter Menari One. On the line, though, in what was a real head-bobber, it was Bourne Panama who opened his winning account at start number nine in a time of 17.99 seconds.

Mocambora Mia was purchased as a pup by Scott Blacksell from Peckham and reared by the owner and his partner Jude Tait at their Cape Bridgewater property.

“We’d won a couple of races with her,” Blacksell said. “But I became sidelined somewhat following a hip replacement and it just became too much for Jude to manage so we sent Mia back to Dave while I recuperated.

“Then she came in season so by the time she found herself back at the race track last week she’d been off the scene for a while.”

Obviously the brindle bitch had appreciated the break because she came out running from box five and never looked like being headed when defeating Aston Verona by 2¼ lengths in a personal best time of 23.08 seconds.

It’s probably fair to say that Mocambora Mia’s odds of $81, which made her one of the longest-priced winners ever at Tara Raceway, certainly didn’t have punters rushing in to back her.

But a local charity will benefit after another $50 jumped into the Tara Tipsters charity jar, courtesy of Mocambora Mia and Scott Blacksell.

Peckham’s day kicked off in the first race, the Exchange Printers Maiden Stake (305 m), with first starter Bourne Allen who drew box one and led all the when defeating kennelmate Aston Jack by 3¾ lengths in 17.76 seconds.

Bourne Allen is by Feral Franky out of six-race winner Raine Allen and it was the breeding that first attracted Peckham when the litter was advertised for sale at an early age.

“There had been good reports on Feral Franky and with Raine Allen being one of the legendary Wheeler breed I decided to purchase a couple of the pups,” he said.

But as Peckham pointed out, sometimes when purchasing pups things don’t always go to plan.

“Actually, Sunday’s winner lost a back toe as a pup but fortunately he overcame the setback and has gone on to race – and now win.

“But the other pup that was purchased at the same time never made it and has now found a home in the Greyhound Adoption Program.”


Local cup has come a long way in 44 years

The $36,000 Group 3 Mount Gambier Cup (512 metres), this year sponsored by Cap Abbott and Kerry Hawker’s Cadillac Racing, has certainly come a long way since its inaugural running over 479 metres out at Glenburnie in 1981.

Conducted at the time by the South East Greyhound Racing Club, under the auspices of the National Coursing Association, the cup was first run only a couple of years after the introduction of greyhound racing in Mount Gambier.

Greyhound racing at Glenburnie was run on the inside of the thoroughbred track and known as Tara Raceway. Following a members’ vote, that same name followed the sport to its current venue on Lake Terrace East.

“Tara” emanated from the naming prefix used by Newman McDonnell, one of the sport’s founding fathers in the region. He also raced many successful greyhounds carrying the Tara tag.

In fact, the winner of the first Mount Gambier Cup was Tara Topar (Luska Dubh x Front Rank), who defeated Cindy’s Range and Autumn Print in a time of 29.83 seconds.

The second cup didn’t run quite so smoothly, though. Sametzel was the winner but not before Geelong trainer Charlie Hilet was required to return a second time after a no-race had been declared the first time around.

In 1983, Barry Fullerton made the trip from Red Cliffs and was successful with Magic Fame, a daughter of Magic Typhoon and the prolific brood bitch Riverland Belle.

Three years later, Riverland Belle produced another Mount Gambier Cup winner in Riverland Roy (by Roy Trease) for Kevin Stone.

The wins of Durafi and Mitchell Boy in 1987 and 1988 for Connie Miller still have her as the only trainer to have won consecutive Mount Gambier Cups.

And in 1989 the legendary Alan Evans of Rockbank – a cup regular at the time – finally landed the cup with Mr. Chatters who had run second the previous two years behind Miller’s pair.

By Kid Campbell out of Blue Louise, Mr. Chatters retired in early 1990 after having won 39 races.

Toolong trainer Brian Lenehan won the 1993 cup with Immortal Flash who traced back to his Hall Of Fame brood bitch Sydney Gem.

Fast forward 25 years and Lenehan’s son, Phil, went close to a cup win of his own with Lektra Stomp – also tracing back to Sydney Gem – when running second to Xtreme Caution.

Argyle Sally, a daughter of Nitrogen and Argyle Miss, landed the 1994 Mount Gambier Cup for Allen Peckham. And 21 years later his son, David, just went down to Lots Of Yap with Bourne Again. Last year he once again finished second, this time with Lochinvar Cahill behind Titan Blazer.

Perhaps fittingly, in 1996 Col Sims, the leading local trainer of the day, won the final Mount Gambier Cup run at Glenburnie with his speedy front-running chaser Colin Ian, a son of Red Region and Aranile.

And in 1997 the Ralph Patzel trained Ashanti Gem, after gaining a run as a reserve, was the first cup winner at the Lake Terrace East venue.

Twenty-seven cups have now been conducted there. Names such as Robert Britton, Kevin Mugavin, Norm McCullagh, Mark Delbridge and Deb Coleman – synonymous with greyhound racing Australia-wide – are among the list of previous winners.

Of all the 43 Mount Gambier Cups run, one of the best stories is probably that of 2015.

Ben Boers, a battling 39-year-old trainer from Portland with not much more than 12 months experience in the game, turned up with a giveaway greyhound called Lots Of Yap. She ultimately landed a spot on the reserve bench after running a distant second to Lobo Loco in a heat.

But a phone call from local trainer Tracie Price gave him the heads-up that Who’s Doing What, who had drawn box one in the final after running a best of day 29.75 seconds in her heat, was on season and would have to be scratched.

And at the end of an exciting 512 metre Mount Gambier Cup final, it was Lots Of Yap who had a head to spare over Bourne Again.

Race caller Allen Williams excitedly declared Lots Of Yap’s win a fairy tale story and one that the stuff of dreams were made of. Probably the most popular Mount Gambier Cup win of all time, he extolled.

That wasn’t a bad endorsement coming from Williams who, two years earlier, had won the cup himself with Colville.

Heats of the Mount Gambier Cup (512 m) will be run at Tara Raceway on Sunday with the final on Sunday, April 14.


Calcutta auction to kick off Mount Gambier Cup carnival

Steve Bartholomew, a long-time Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club president and life member, still has fond memories of the club’s first Mount Gambier Cup Calcutta auction.

“That was back in 1981, a time when the Calcutta used to be conducted in a woolshed on Jubilee Highway. And from memory, Tara Topar, who won the inaugural cup out at Glenburnie, was purchased for $100,” he said.

Bartholomew actually handled Tara Topar – a son of Luska Dubh and Front Rank – in the cup final for his mother-in-law Joan Cruise and Newman McDonnell.

But it would be a further 38 years before Bartholomew handled his own winner – the Worrolong-based trainer successful with the Robert Chuck owned Galactic Athena who was a sensational winner of the 2019 Mount Gambier Cup.

In another time the cup was staged over the Adelaide Cup long weekend in May. Heats were run on the Saturday with the final on Monday afternoon.

And with the final draw and the Calcutta conducted at a dinner on the Saturday night it worked pretty well. Later, when the Adelaide Cup holiday switched to March, the heats and final of the greyhound cup were run over consecutive weekends.

The Mount Gambier Cup has been run continuously since 1981. In 2018, the cup was granted Listed status and in 2022, following a concerted effort by the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club, the event assumed Group 3 status.

In a bid to entice owners and trainers to also support the Mount Gambier Cup, Greyhound Racing SA (GRSA) had linked incentive-based bonuses when the first Murray Bridge Cup was run in 2019.

The bonuses include $5000 if the same greyhound can win both cups. In addition, there is a $5000 bonus if the same trainer is able to win both cups (SA or interstate or different dogs).

GRSA is yet to make a bonus payout although Victorian trainer Andrew Paraskevas went into the 2019 final with Pure White Evil in line for a bonus after his litter brother and kennelmate Eye Got It had won the Murray Bridge Cup.

And 2022 Murray Bridge Cup winner Weblec Angel went even closer when going down by a head a few weeks later to Departure Gate at Mount Gambier.

In 2020 and 2021, due to Covid, there was no Calcutta. Then, in 2022, the local greyhound and harness racing clubs – whose cups that year coincided – got together to run a joint Calcutta at the Commercial Hotel. It worked pretty well, although it’s rare that the two cups coincide.

For the first time since 2019, the Calcutta auction was back at Tara Raceway last year with Kevin “KD” Douglas the MC on the night and Chris Manser of Green Triangle Real Estate auctioning the greyhounds.

Seven greyhounds were in last year’s “top” group – Titan Blazer ($450 bid), Yahiro Bale ($200), Aston Ziebell ($340), Wharfie ($215), Springvale Roxy ($390), Lektra Rhino ($202) and Sister Roberta ($460).

And as it turned out, Lektra Rhino was the only greyhound to miss the final which was ultimately won by the Danny Gibbons trained Titan Blazer (Calcutta payout $3032). He defeated Lochinvar Cahill ($190 in the second group) and Sister Roberta.

Douglas and Manser will be back at Tara Raceway on Friday night for the 2024 Cadillac Racing Mount Gambier Cup Calcutta auction, proceedings kicking off at around 6 o’clock.

Following the GRSA cup draw in Adelaide on Wednesday afternoon, a Mount Gambier subcommittee will then meet to frame the Calcutta groups for this year’s $36,000 cup.

Calcutta tickets at $1 each or $80 for 100 will be on sale on Friday night as will barbecue and salad meals. The auction will commence at 7 o’clock.