Curtain falls on Devonport

Caption: The Allan Clark-trained Bonnie Danger strides clear of Jewel Titan to land Devonport’s final feature race, the Ladbrokes Classic Final (452m) on March 22.

By BRENNAN RYAN

ALL good things come to an end.

Sadly, after 70 years of racing, the North West Greyhound Racing Club hosted its final meeting at the Devonport Showgrounds on March 22. That finale brings to an end a historic chapter of both harness and greyhound racing in Tasmania’s north west.

Racing participants, both young and old, are wondering if they will get to see a proposed new racing facility to be built on the Latrobe site which still awaits further application approval from the state government.

Hopefully the new facility will come to fruition and give trainers hope for a future.

The Ladbrokes Classic Final, worth $3175 to the winner, was the final feature race conducted by the well-patronised club, allowing loyal spectators the opportunity to bid farewell. The race was taken out by the Allan Clark-trained Bonnie Danger who pulled out all stops to produce a gutsy career-best performance.

Setting the fastest time of all six heats the previous week in 25.54 seconds, Bonnie Danger, a daughter of Barcia Bale, backed up into the final by setting a similar run from box two., coming through along the inside to score by two lengths. Race favourite Jewel Titan was second with White Poison running on for third.

The Burnie-based Clark, who served 10 years as NWGRC chairman, says he was thrilled by the win.

“During the 90’s we took back the club and ran it ourselves, at best saving the licencees while working many hours volunteering,” he said. “And if it wasn’t for the likes of Paul Bullock, Gary and Cheryl Sutton, myself and some other people turning around a huge lose of $80,000  the club wouldn’t be as financial as it stands right now.”

Clark said Bonnie Danger’s victory in the Ladbrokes Classic was a real ‘family affair’.

“I’m sure my family who race Bonnie Danger would get a great thrill out of winning this race,” he said. “It’s been a huge close involvement having bred the litter. To be quite honest, Bonnie Danger had broken-in one of the slowest of her group and she has been the most honest from the start in what has been a disappointing litter.”

Bonnie Danger raised her winning record to five victories from 28 race starts for owner-breeder Chelsi Gale.

While bad weather covered the state, it wasn’t the only dark cloud that hovered over Devonport. NWGRC president Robyn Johnson said the uncertainty of the future in some parts of the racing region had placed a huge dampener on celebrations following the final race, won by the Jack Jury-trained Agent Aspen.

“There is so much history in this track, everyone here today has been chatting and recalling memories,” she said.

“It was meant to be a big day when we could say ‘we’re moving, we’re onto a new track’. We’d like to know if there is anything we can do as a committee to support it and get things moving a little bit quicker.”

Johnson and her husband Gary secured a winning double on the program with Buckle Up Aumond and Mono’s Eclipse.

Trainer David Crosswell also bagged two winners, including Highland Wonder who stormed home late over Dark Titan to take out the final race staged over the 580m staying trip, clocking 33.73 seconds from box one.

Trainers Neville Allison, Paul Hili, Robin Grubb and Ted Medhurst all secured a winner each on the final program.

It was left to Tea Tree trainer Jack Jury to have the honour of securing the final ever race conducted by the club with Agent Aspen delivering the goods, holding Dewana Milo at bay to score by almost three lengths with Unique Palate in third in a winning time of 26.03.

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