By David Lewis
AS far as the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club was concerned, its inaugural SE Football Clubs Challenge at Tara Raceway last Sunday could not have gone off much better.
With representatives on track from eight local football clubs – East Gambier, Glencoe, Nangwarry, North Gambier, Penola, Port MacDonnell, South Gambier and West Gambier – the crowd quite possibly upstaged the greyhound club’s Mount Gambier Cup meeting back in April, and they were there for a good time.
Each club drew a greyhound in the Challenge – run as race nine over 512 metres – the draws taking place after the lead-up races which carried the clubs’ names.
MC Kevin “KD” Douglas’s knowledge of local football and his interaction with the local teams, together with his close ties with Mount Gambier greyhound racing, certainly assisted in ensuring the success of the day.
Complementing the TAB was local bookmaker Darren Guthridge, his father Kevin a former leading greyhound trainer when racing was conducted at Glenburnie.
Guthridge, who was delighted to once again be fielding at a greyhound meeting, reported brisk business.
From a turnover point of view he said the Challenge had been by far his busiest race.
Favourite for the SE Football Clubs Challenge was Shady Past, trained at Portland by Robert Halliday who earlier in the day had been successful with This Time Bro in the Penola Football Club Stake (400m).
As it turned out, the Penola club drew the favourite in the Challenge.
East Gambier Football Club drew box eight runner Rough In Vegas, locally bred, owned and trained by the MGGRC president Noel Perry, who, it has to be said, had been the driving force behind the day.
When Rough In Vegas quickly took up the running and opened up a handy break down the back over Galactic Horizon, the East Gambier representatives must have been feeling reasonably confident of success.
But with both greyhounds chasing their first wins since March it was Galactic Horizon who finished the stronger for a length win in 29.95 seconds.
Also locally bred and owned by Robert Chuck, the winner is trained at Worrolong by Steve Bartholomew.
A life member of the MGGRC, Bartholomew is also a long-time former president of the club.
After a slow start, Shady Past found himself a fair way back early before working home well to finish fifth.
Halliday’s other runner in the race, Rotate, ran another good race to finish a 2½ lengths third.
Galactic Horizon was the second-last greyhound to be drawn, the winning club being South Gambier.
Accepting the trophy on behalf of the club was Shannon Megaw.
Preceding the Challenge was the West Gambier Football Club Stake (512m).
And how about the win of another locally bred, owned and trained greyhound in Tandiki?
After missing much of the early part of 2021 with injury, the daughter of Peter Rocket and Headline returned to the winner’s list on May 9 at Tara Raceway.
Since then she has had another seven starts at Mount Gambier for six wins and a second.
Turning into the back straight in last Sunday’s mixed stake, it is probably fair to say there was no way Tandiki could win, such was the start she was giving the leaders.
In fact, even off the back, she still had plenty of work to do.
But turning for home Tandiki had the leaders in her sights before unleashing her customary finishing burst which saw her run out a three-lengths winner over Rough Pearl in 29.91 seconds.
Compton breeder-trainer Tracie Price could not wipe the smile off his face.
Owners Willie Vossen and Michael Robinson continue to enjoy the ride of their lives.
As far as the SE Football Clubs Challenge day went, it was probably the West Gambier Football Club boys who best summed it up:
“Great day at the dogs. Well done Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club on a well organised day. We certainly took home the cup for the most rowdiest and best represented club.”