Box speed is key to rich Ipswich Curry

Caption: Pauline Byers and son Shane continue their family’s domination of Ipswich racing – here with the  Just Greyhound Photos Dash For Cash (288m) trophy after Ringbark Road’s victory. (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)

 

Ipswich Club wrap by MIKE HILL

BOX speed and not one particular box seems to hold the key to success in the Group-listed Vince Curry Memorial Maiden (520m) at Ipswich.

This month\’s final of the richest race for maiden greyhounds (February 5) carries record prizemoney of $75,000 with winning connections collecting $50,000.

It\’s an increase of $15,000 on last year\’s total and it\’s the first time prizemoney has been above $70,000 since Heidi Benz won the feature in 2015.

The Vince Curry – a tough three-race series for young chasers – seems to favour those that can begin quickly.

In recent years winners have either led or been a close-up second passing the judge the first time, while no box has dominated the Group feature since the race distance was increased from 512m to 520m in 2003.

Success has been shared equally by four boxes in the past 19 years – one, three, four and eight – with four winners coming from each.

Of the others, only box five has provided more than one winner – two – while box six is yet to produce a victor.

Three of the past five winners, Rumble Ranger (2021 – box four), Farmor Beach (\’20 – box one) and Rose Honey (2018 – box eight), led their rivals after exploding from the boxes, while Spotted Wolf (\’19 – box three) and Fire To Rain (\’17 – box one) charged home late after slotting in second early.

In 2016, Split Image led kennelmate Paua To Avoid before the Tony Brett-trained pair created history by becoming the first dead-heat winners of the Vince Curry.

The rich series has a long history of producing future stars.

Some of the more notable winners include Token Prince (1997), Just The Best (1999), High Earner (2009) and Farmor Beach (2020).

The first three all went on to leave a significant mark on the breeding industry, while Farmor Beach has matched it with the best at Group level.

His record currently stands at 23 wins and 15 placings from 54 starts and he has amassed prizemoney totally almost $276,000.

In recent years, the Vince Curry has provided some interesting results.

In 2017, trainer Chris Riordon claimed first, second and fourth in the final with littermates Fire To Rain, Roll So Deep and Fabrique, while the 2016 edition produced the series\’ only dead-heat.

Club president Merv Page said he was certain this month\’s final would produce another worthy champion.

\”Dogs who place in the final inevitably go on to bigger and better things,\” Page said.

\”It\’s something that has happened repeatedly over the years.

\”It\’s been a wonderful launching pad for some stars of the sport.\”

Recent Vince Curry winners include:

2021 Rumble Ranger (box 4) 30.63s; 2020 Farmor Beach (1) 30.33s; 2019 Spotted Wolf (3) 30.74s; 2018 Rose Honey (8) 30.78s; 2017 Fire To Rain (1) 30.52s; 2016 Split Image (4) 30.42s and Paua To Avoid (8) 30.42s; 2015 Heidi Benz (3) 30.83s; 2014 Jungle Junction (4) 30.46s; 2013 Allez Brigette (3) 30.66s; 2012 Brook Lee (7) 30.78s; 2011 Dance A Jig (1) 30.64s; 2010 Auriga Fox (8) 30.95s; 2009 High Earner (5) 30.56s; 2008 Red Aces (3) 30.89s; 2007 Flying Felicity (1) 30.95s; 2006 Winsome Ace (8) 31.08s; 2005 Vizcaya (4) 30.82s; 2004 Runaway Sally (2) 30.77s; 2003 Woops A Daisy (5) 31.03s.

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2021 was a year of several \’firsts\’ for the powerful Byers kennels at Drayton.

Pauline Byers, who only took over the family-run operation following the passing of her husband, top trainer Col Byers, in September 2019, rugged up her first \’ton\’ of winners – all at Ipswich.

With 20 dogs in work at their complex on the outskirts of Toowoomba, Pauline and son Shane are continuing the dominance forged by Col over several decades.

Training for more than 40 years, he had a mortgage on the Ipswich male trainer\’s premiership – winning it nine times in succession (2011-2019).

And success has continued for Pauline.

She won the Ipswich female trainers premiership in 2020 – her first year as a trainer in her own right – and backed it up with another stellar season last year.

Not only did she complete back-to-back title victories, she also landed several firsts in the process.

It was the first time she had trained 100 winners, although Col had led in a ton in 2014, and kennel star Spring Cleo became the first bitch in a decade to be crowned Ipswich Greyhound of the Year.

Pauline finished the 2021 season with a total of 102 winners and 854 points, beating Serena Lawrance (712) in the female category, while both women dominated the men.

Peter O\’Reilly won the male trainers premiership with 465 points (40 winners), 38 points in front of club president Merv Page (427).

Byers also prepared the Greyhound of the Year quinella with Spring Cleo (103) beating kennelmate and last year\’s winner Spring Rock (98) for the Board Racing syndicate.

\”She\’s the first bitch to win the title in a decade,\” said Pauline. \”The last bitch to win was Spring Rose in 2011 when she was trained by Col.\”

Board Racing, headed by SA-based Greg Board, of Spring Gun fame, and son Scott, who is based at Spring Hill in NSW, has had amazing success with the Byers over the years – first with Col and now with Pauline and Shane.

Byers said it was a real family affair.

\”My son Shane is a huge help around the kennels and on race days and my daughter Joanne and her family look after the dogs when we\’re away racing,\” she said.

\”Shane is one of the main reasons the team is going so well.\”

Byers won last month\’s first feature of the new year at Ipswich – the $6500 Just Greyhound Photos Dash For Cash (288m) – with $4.40 equal favourite Ringbark Road and just missed the big double when Spring Kono ($2.10 fav) failed by a length to run down the unbeaten Tungsten Miss ($2.70) in the $15,700 Corporate Dollars Challenge Final (520m).

Byers had been successful in last year\’s Corporate Dollars with Spring Cleo.

******

MEANWHILE, the Jedda Cutlack-trained Tungsten Miss maintained her unbeaten record with a brilliant all-the-way victory in the $10,205-to-the-winner Corporate Dollars Challenge (520m) at Ipswich.

It was win number seven for the talented daughter of Fernando Bale and Miss Lauryn and her third feature success since winning a heat of the Dave Brett Memorial Maiden (520m) at Albion Park in November.

Her major victories include the Brett Memorial Final and the $57,500 Group 2 Futurity at Albion Park in late December.

Indications from the kennel suggest Tungsten Miss could be aimed at the two Auction Series races over 431 and 520m at Ipswich in coming months.

Heats of the $22,000 Auction Sprint (431m) will be run on February 19 with the final on February 26 and the rich $59,500 Group 3R Auction Series (520m) is on April 2, 9 and 16.

******

LEADING female trainer Serena Lawrance couldn\’t have asked for much more at Ipswich last month.

Lawrance took five runners to a Tuesday afternoon meeting and returned home with a trio of winners and two seconds, including the quinella in race eight.

Her winners were Gossamer Wings, the $2.20 favourite in race two, Trixie Rigatoni, a $4.20 chance in the Beenleigh Legal Maiden Final (431m) and $2 favourite Panorama in the Garrard\’s Horse And Hound 5th Grade (520m).

Any Given Sunday ($4.80) chased his kennelmate Panorama home for second, while Majestic Man, a $9 chance, was runner-up in the penultimate race on the 12-event program.

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