Cup has come a long way in 44 years

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

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 did not 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 fairytale story and one the stuff of dreams were made of.

Probably the most popular Mount Gambier Cup win of all time, he extolled.

That was not 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.

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