Until recently, about the only time the locally-based Kevin Jones was not at the Thursday and Sunday Mount Gambier greyhound racing meetings was if there was a Test match being played at Adelaide Oval.
For sure, more often than not Jonesy would be studying the form, perched on the bench seats painted in the 10 race-rug colours and situated directly outside the clubrooms.
Failing that, he would probably have been over the other side of the track to catch a greyhound at the conclusion of a race for a trainer in need of assistance.
And in between race meetings, there was always a fair chance he would be at the track, lending a hand in some shape or form.
Volunteers have a long history of involvement in the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing and Coursing Club, one that goes back to the early 1970s.
It’s probably fair to say that Jonesy is one of the last remaining volunteers.
Last month at a Thursday afternoon race meeting he suffered a heart attack and was transferred to the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide.
Later, he returned home in order to stabilise his breathing before returning to Adelaide where he will undergo surgery.
Meanwhile, Jonesy’s mate, Monty Wilson, a greyhound trainer from just over the border at Mumbannar, had Santino Gold engaged in last Thursday’s time-graded Progreyhoundtips.com Stake (400 metres) at Tara Raceway.
Jonesy races Santino Gold, a striking-looking fawn son of Hostile and Paula Mechelle, in partnership with the trainer.
As luck would have it, he witnessed the dog’s maiden win last month first hand just before taking ill.
Jumping from box seven in last Thursday’s 1-4 Wins event, the $20 chance looked to be in trouble early before gaining a rails run down the back straight and eventually running out a one length winner over Five Bucks Down in 23.78 seconds.
For the trainer, it was a race of mixed emotions.
“Somehow this win was not quite the same without Jonesy leading the dog back after catching him at the conclusion of the race,” he said.
“But for all that, I did speak to him later in the day and he saw the race on Sky Racing. Needless to say he was delighted with the result.
“It certainly boosted his morale.”
And, of course, it goes without saying, Kevin Jones’s many friends in greyhound racing wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to soon seeing him back at Tara Raceway.
The Phantom’s record-equalling day Last Thursday’s time-graded meeting at Tara Raceway started off well for Langhorne Creek trainer Tony Hinrichsen who was successful in the Bartholomew Pick 6 Maiden Stake (400 metres) with Thieving Fury, an easy 7½ lengths winner in 24.09 seconds.
Mind you, with the five-dog field all being trained by Hinrichsen it was a case of him always going to win the race.
His only problem was with which one.
Bigger trainers supplying a whole field is occurring a bit lately at tracks around the country.
But for all that, the support of SA away trainers such as Hinrichsen at Mount Gambier meetings has been a godsend given the continuing border restrictions.
Later in the day the Hinrichsen trained Filthy Phantom, an August 2016 whelping by Lochinvar Marlow x Ruby Swift, lined up in the Klaassens Contractors Stake (400 m) at what was his 250th start.
As it turned out, Bangor Lizzy relegated the veteran to second place but his run did equal former Victorian chaser Galloping Graham’s Australian record for the most number of race starts.
Galloping Graham, a son of Cry Havoc x Pahurehure Lass, commenced racing at Warragul on September 7, 1999 and was retired at start number 250 on September 6, 2004 at Traralgon.
Filthy Phantom’s racing career started at Strathalbyn on December 22, 2017.
From a Mount Gambier perspective, he has raced at Tara Raceway on 31 occasions for five wins.
His first win at the track was on May 18, 2018 when he defeated Crikey Creeky.
The race records of Galloping Graham and Filthy Phantom at 250 starts are remarkably similar – the former with 25 wins, 35 seconds and 42 thirds.
Filthy Phantom has recorded 25 wins, 39 seconds and 48 thirds.
But it’s unlikely Hinrichsen’s black dog will be sharing the record for too long.
“No, I’m not looking at retiring him any time soon.
“As he showed today, he’s still racing competitively and just loves being at the track.”