‘I can’t believe it, I have won the cup!’

Moorak trainer Jason Newman struck a blow for the locals last Sunday when his $18 chance Departure Gate won the 42nd running of the Mount Gambier Cup (512 metres), sponsored this year by Carlin & Gazzard MG.

Contesting the first Group 3 event to be run at Tara Raceway, Departure Gate, together with fellow locals Whole Way and Midnight Blast, took on the might of the powerful Victorian-based foursome – Blazing Times, Keep It Blue, Keep It Black and Weblec Ranger – all trained by Angela Langton.

But it was Departure Gate who quickly found the front from box six and from then on was never headed.

He eventually held out last month’s Murray Bridge Cup winner Weblec Ranger to win by a head in 29.42 seconds, the time equalling Sunset Milo’s race record established in 2020.

Weblec Ranger’s head defeat cost Langton a $10,000 bonus, awarded by Greyhound Racing SA to any trainer winning both the Murray Bridge and Mount Gambier Cups with the same greyhound.

And many long-time greyhound racing followers declared the 2022 Carlin & Gazzard MG Mount Gambier Cup meeting as one of the best ever run at the Lake Terrace East venue.

Once again, GRSA, the sport’s controlling body, made its presence felt with Grantley Stevens (chairman), Gavin Bosch (acting CEO), Adrian Battiston and David Lewis (directors) and Matt Watson and Tim Stoeckel of marketing all in attendance.

“We were particularly keen to see how the club’s first Group 3 event went off,” Stevens said.

“And we were absolutely delighted with the whole day.

“The support it received was tremendous and certainly a credit to the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club.”

It was an emotional Newman who returned to the recently-built new look presentation dais with Departure Gate, a son of Fernando Bale x Tarks Nemesis who ironically had been bred by Langton.

“I can’t believe it, I have just won the cup,” he said.

“He had to drive hard to hold the lead and that’s what he did!”

Newman kicked the day off with a win in the first race, the Exchange Printers Maiden Stake (305 m), with Velocity Cleo in 17.80 seconds.

Then, following the cup win, Ajmer was successful in the Trackside Meats Stake (400 m) in 23.11 seconds.

And just when the day surely could not get any better, partner Melissa Freitag won the second-last race, the Gordon Refrigeration Stake (512 m), with Awesome Alpaca in 30.61 seconds.

Change of luck for travelling trainer

By his own admission, Thomastown owner-trainer Michael Katsiris – back in the game for the past five or so months after a break of 25 years – does not mind travelling with his greyhounds.

At Tara Raceway for the first time the previous week, it was a luckless 10-hour round trip for Katsiris after Clear Girl ran second and odds-on favourite White Surprise finished fourth.

“That was the first time they had seen the track so I nominated again for last Thursday.

“But before that they had both run at Shepparton on the Monday where they finished third and fourth respectively,” he said.

“Then, the next day, I had a couple to trial at Bendigo before making the trip back here on Thursday. The travelling has never worried me, though.

“And I’m certainly looking at coming back to Mount Gambier.”

White Surprise certainly benefited from her run at the track the previous week when lining up in the Commercial Hotel 5+Wins Stake (400 metres).

Away quickly from box five, she led all the way to defeat Lana Roads by 2¼ lengths in 22.90 seconds – a time more in keeping with a Sunday meeting.

“I was certainly glad to see her stay out of trouble today,” Katsiris later said.

By Mepunga Blazer, the white and black bitch is out of White Ambush, a daughter of White Spyro who won the last of her 22 races at Mount Gambier in July 2016.

A “backyard” trainer, Katsiris has four in work – all purchased as performed dogs at around 22 months of age.

“I train them on a walking machine and for galloping use The Meadows slipping track which is only a short distance away. This seems to work pretty well.”

Meanwhile, the Fast Forward 1-4 Wins threw up a more even spread of finalists than last month with the five 400 metre heats all having runners in this Thursday’s $1400 final.

Selected from Worst to Best of this category, the final field is made up of eight greyhounds – those running the fastest times in the heats, regardless of their finishing position.

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