By David Gilbert
THOROUGHBRED racing will not return to Alan Scott Glenburnie racecourse until the spring of this year, at the earliest.
Following a recommendation by track manager David Shepherdson, both Racing SA and the committee of the Mount Gambier racing club have agreed to give the beleaguered track more time before racing can return on the course proper.
The majority of Mount Gambier trainers were present at a meeting on Monday afternoon with Mount Gambier officials along with Nick Redin and Vaughan Lynch from Racing SA.
If racing does not recommence until the end of the year, it will mean the Mount Gambier club will not have hosted a meeting for around 18 months.
It also means there will not be a Mount Gambier cup meeting for the 2020/21 racing season.
“It was David Shepherdson’s recommendation that we not do anything to the track until around November this year,” Mount Gambier Racing Club president John O’Connor said.
“Believe me, it is a real, real concern that has been ongoing for around 20 years and the best solution at present is to leave it as long as we can.
“Nick Redin and Vaughan Lynch are endeavouring to find ways to improve training facilities here at Glenburnie.”
Trainers will continue to use the inner (or steeple track) and the sand track to work their horses.
Meetings scheduled for Mount Gambier will be transferred to other Limestone Coast courses.
The next major meeting to be conducted at Mount Gambier this current season was the Millicent Cup on Sunday, May 30 and, like last year, the Millicent club will have to find another course to race at.
It was discussed during the meeting of installing a fibre, or artificial track.
Local trainer Richard Nicholson, who has had considerable success in the past few seasons, was in attendance and mentioned that trainers are at loggerheads as to the ideal solution for training their horses.
“What I would like to see is a compromise whereby everybody gets a bit of what they want,” Nicholson stated, referring to trainers having the option of a permanent grass training track as well as an artificial/fibre track.
One trainer who is already looking at an alternative is our biggest trainer, the Yahl based Peter Hardacre.
“I have invested over a million dollars in this area and I am currently in the process of looking at establishing a satellite stable at Murray Bridge, especially for the winter,” Hardacre told The Border Watch.
“I enjoy living in Mount Gambier and my kids are settled in here and I have no intentions of leaving, however a satellite stable much closer to Adelaide and the other provincial tracks is definitely on the cards.”
GOT THE CHOCOLATES EARLY
TRAINER Peter Hardacre missed the above meeting with racing officials on Monday and with good reason.
He was busy saddling up four runners at Terang and duly landed the major prize in the opening two events.
Both winners eased in betting to double-figure odds and got the money in different fashion.
The first starter Tahnee Tradition was one of two Hardacre runners in the 1200-metre maiden and was the outsider of the two.
“I actually preferred my other runner Spin The Reward (eighth) on what they had shown in track work”, Hardacre admitted post race.
Tahnee Tradition ($17-$21) settled in second spot for jockey Jarrod Fry (who went on to ride a double), always travelled well for him and proceeded to win with plenty in hand to defy the big odds.
Financially, it was a great result for her three owners as, on top of first prize of $12,650, there was also a Super Vobis bonus offered on the race with an extra $8,400 going into the coffers.
Hardacre’s double was achieved in harder fashion half an hour later when Atomic Texie ($7-$10) prevailed narrowly in a close, three-way finish in the other 1200-metre maiden.
The four-year-old gelding had run second on debut at Bordertown nearly four weeks ago and Victorian form experts disregarded that effort.
Atomic Texie led all the way for Horsham jockey Dean Yendall but had to defy some serious challengers over the final 200 metres.
“There is a bit of piginess about him and he has come back much stronger from shin soreness,” Hardacre explained.
“He was bred by part owner Lachie Etherton who is a horse dentist and a good mate of mine and he, along with some of his fellow owners, are here today.”
EXTRA MONTH OF HARNESS RACING
THE local harness racing season was due to close at the end of March but has been extended by Harness Racing SA.
Two meetings, both on Tuesday nights, have been programmed for April 13 and 27.
While that is seemingly good news, it must be remembered the local season commenced a month earlier than normal back in mid October.
With another extra month now tacked on, it is putting pressure on local trainers to keep their pacers in training, some of whom have been in work for over five months.
Horse numbers here this season have been the lowest ever, not helped by the closing of the Victorian border from time to time due to COVID-19.
HARNESS GOLD CUP A FORTNIGHT AWAY
THE tradition of having a calcutta on Gold Cup eve for local harness racing will continue next month.
The next meeting here is the Mount Gambier Gold Cup on Saturday, March 13 and club officials have announced a new location for the cup eve calcutta on the Friday night.
It will be conducted upstairs in the function room of the Commercial Hotel in the Balcony Room.
Calcutta tickets ($5 each) are available from any club committeemen, the draw will be undertaken at 8pm and meals will be available from 5.30pm.
BORDERTOWN trainer Jimmy Dodgson may have entered the record books as the Limestone Coast trainer with the longest priced winner ever.
At Morphettville last Friday, the Dodgson trained Heavy Rotation was a 150/1 chance with fixed odds when the field jumped in the 1400-metre BM 58 handicap.
It was the Strathalbyn meeting transferred from Wednesday when jockeys refused to ride after race two due to the condition of the track.
Considering Heavy Rotation had won at Naracoorte three starts prior and was dropping back from class two level to a BM 58 on Friday, the filly’s odds seemed generous.
“She had a good form line when she raced in and around Sydney before I got her, but I did not back her on Friday, however thankfully my missus did,” Dodgson stated.
Not surprisingly, stewards queried the improved effort which Dodgson attributed to her wearing blinkers for the first time and having a stronger rider (Sairyn Fawke).
DOUBLE FOR PHILLIPS
LOCAL driver Mark Phillips is having his best season ever and it continued at the Greenwald Paceway last Tuesday night.
Phillips drove a double to give him six winners for this season thus far, which puts him in second place on the driver’s premiership ladder, five wins behind Jayson Finnis.
Those punters who snapped up the $7 bet early with fixed odds about the chances of the Cheryl Jacob trained Keayang Trumpet ($7-$3) in the NR 49 pace were always confident of collecting once Phillips found the lead after 400 metres.
That was Keayang Trumpet’s third local win this season to put him high in contention for the local Horse of the Year award and a possibility of competing in next month’s Mount Gambier Gold Cup.
“At this stage, stablemate Captain Snooze (second in the cup last year) is being aimed at the gold Cup and we also nominate Keayang Trumpet in the hope he makes the final field,” stable spokesman Bill Jacob stated.
After an hour later, Phillips was again first past the post when the Steve Fennell trained Shady Rose ($3.40), having only her second career start, upset a hefty move for the unplaced Murdoch ($3.40-$1.90 fav.).
The Finnis stable continues to supply a winner at nearly every local meeting this season and Royal Speech ($1.80 fav.) obliged on this occasion by making it successive victories in the final event.