The day the cup opposition was stung by a Drone

STRONG RUN: Mo Canala pictured with Wild Star at Tara Raceway last month after winning her maiden over 400 metres. Pictures: SUBMITTED

By David Lewis

IT was back on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 that The Border Watch sports journalist Rod Morris penned the back page lead story “Cup sting by Drone”.

Morris was covering the $3000 South Aussie Hotel Mount Gambier Cup (512 metres) which had been won the previous Saturday afternoon at Tara Raceway by Drone, a well-named son of US sire Kiowa Sweet Trey and Beekeeper.

Trained at Portland by Brian Weis, Drone went into the final as second favourite.

He stung his opposition when jumping well from box five and leading all the way for a three-length win over Deep Prince in 30.45 seconds.

Morris also suggested that Weis – “he came and conquered” – and owner Robert Britton would probably target some major metropolitan races with Drone.

Actually, the 2009 Mount Gambier Cup turned out to be a pretty good meeting for Portland trainers.

Robert Duncan won the Super Sprint over 277 metres with Ballistic Token and Robert Halliday was successful with Balmoral Jill who won a Cup Consolation.

Halliday also bred three other winners on the day – Our Rule, Lisa’s Rule and Carry On Bond.

The Mount Gambier Cup, the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s longest-running race, has come a fair way since inaugural winner Tara Topar out at Glenburnie in 1981.

The time-honoured event, which this year will celebrate its 44th running with heats on April 7 and the final on April 14, now carries Group 3 status with total prize money amounting to $36,000.

Meanwhile, Compton-based Tracie Price, leading Mount Gambier trainer in 2022 and 2023 – but yet to win a Mount Gambier Cup – is off to another flying start this year after having already trained 20 winners at his home track.

Last Sunday, for the second time this year, he landed four winners at a Tara Raceway meeting – this time with Wild Star, Compton Buster, Compton Wink and Honey Rocks.

Wild Star, a daughter of US sire Need My Moneynow and Wild Marilyn, looked particularly impressive when leading all the way in the Klaassens Contractors Stake for grade six greyhounds.

Having her first start over 512 metres, the black bitch never looked like being beaten when defeating kennelmate In The Bug by 5¼ lengths in a quick 29.54 seconds.

Price has done well with members of the George Kairouz-owned litter – other winners including Wild Milly, Wilder and, of course, Wild Banker who was a sensational winner of last month’s $10,000 Summer Classic.

Toolong-based Phil Lenehan is another trainer still chasing his first Mount Gambier Cup.

There has been family success, though, with his father Brian winning the 1993 Mount Gambier Cup with Immortal Flash.

Brian also received Greyhound Racing Victoria Hall Of Fame recognition through his legendary brood bitch Sydney Gem.

Phil came close in the 2018 Mount Gambier Cup with Lektra Stomp, who at the time held the Mount Gambier 512-metre track record at 29.45 seconds.

The son of Walk Hard and Lektra Angie was one of the favourites in the final, but finished a three-quarter length second behind Xtreme Caution.

For Weis, it was a case of coming and conquering a second time.

Lenehan’s treble last Sunday at Tara Raceway with Yesterday’s Hero, Lektra Fred and Lektra Tinsel was his second in as many weeks.

Moorak trainer Mel Freitag landed a double with Nitrogen Outlaw and Send It Blue.

Nitrogen Outlaw, a son of Aston Dee Bee and Fantasy Skye, brought up his 25th win at start number 97 when leading all the way in the Cadillac Racing Open Stake (400m), defeating the ultra-consistent Mister Cadillac by 1¼ lengths in 22.79 seconds.

In the Rocks Tavern Stake (512m), Send It Blue, in what was a big run, made it five wins in succession.

The son of Cosmic Rumble and Mossy Girl was last early before finishing powerfully out wide in the home straight for a 2¾ length win over Judiciary in 30.18 seconds.

Earlier in the day in the Gambier Vets Maiden Stake (305m), Freitag’s partner, Jason Newman, was successful with Zipping Shakira.

The daughter of Superior Panama and Zipping Bailey quickly found the front from box seven before running away to a 5¾ length win in 17.58 seconds.