Albion Park News By ALEX NOLAN
One of the most satisfying moments in Darryl McGrath’s decades-long association with greyhound racing came at a Sunday meeting at Albion Park last month.
McGrath trained four winners on the 12-race programme on October 17, three of which were siblings from his Cosmic Rumble x Kazeko litter.
Gogo Gidget and Peanut Crumble were successful in Maiden Heats over the 331m, before What A Crumble gave the litter a winning treble in a Novice over the same trip.
Wingman Dan (Fast Times x Gannon’s Gift) rounded out a memorable night for McGrath by winning in Grade 4 company.
It followed a winning treble at headquarters on October 7.
“I’ve had plenty of trebles throughout my career but this was the first time I’d trained four and it was very satisfying,” he said.
“Any winner is a good winner!”
A plumber by trade, the greyhounds mixed with full-time work keep McGrath on his toes.
He said the winners simply wouldn’t flow without the support of his 27-year-old son Brandon, who puts in plenty of hard yards preparing the dogs at home.
“I’ll probably keep plumbing until we can start enjoying those regular Thursday night winners,” he said.
“I’ve had plenty of success over the shorter trips but I’m yet to find that litter that can run a strong 520m. Hopefully, this litter (out of Kazeko) can do that.
“They all broke in really well and they’re just lovely animals. You’d love a kennel full of them.
“Those winners on Sunday night are showing all good signs; they’re getting to the line well, have good box speed and are sensible pups.”
The first litter out of Kazeko (by Thirty Talks) failed to fire on the track but have since been rehomed through the GAP program.
Text message a ‘mock’ for caller?
On the same night McGrath scored his winning ‘quaddie’, racecaller Anthony Jeffress too had a night to remember.
Jeffress tipped the first seven winners on the 12-race card, finishing the night with eight in total and a further two seconds.
Jeffress is no stranger to big hauls on the tip.
He recently tipped nine winners at a Capalaba meeting.
His personal best came at a Monday meeting at Albion Park when he tipped nine out of 10 winners.
“The two things I remember on that occasion were … it was actually Race 1 that I missed the winner … and it was a dog called Flying Kostanza, trained by Tony Brett, that ran fourth in the race,” he said.
Jeffress could be forgiven for daring to dream about tipping the card after the first seven races.
But were his hopes dashed when BGRC CEO Luke Gatehouse sent him a message of encouragement after Race 7?
“He put the ‘mock’ on me I reckon,” Jeffress said in jest.
A $1 all-up (TAB Fixed) on Jeffress’ first seven tips would’ve netted you a cool $1645.
Mixed fortunes for punters
TAB punters endured a tough start to Thursday meetings at Albion Park in September.
Six of the 12 winners at headquarters on September 2 started double-figure odds.
The average SP on the night was $10.98. The longest-priced winner on the night and for the entire month was Call Me Rip, which saluted the judge at odds of $26.
Things took a sharp turn for the better on September 9 and 16, with the next 23 winners starting in single digits.
The average SP for the month was $6.27 with the shortest-priced favourite to win being Kooringa Lucy ($1.28) on September 16.
Interestingly, just two greyhounds broke the 30sec mark over 520m at Thursday meetings during September.
Spotted Elk posted three winning sub-30sec times, including a 29.73sec effort on September 9.
Canaveral was the only other greyhound to run sub-30sec when he won in 29.96 on September 16.
Fernando Grand breaks drought
COULD Fernando Grand be the greyhound to put trainer Gary Mackay’s name back in the spotlight should he contest next month’s Queensland Derby?
Mackay’s association with the industry extends almost 50 years and his name will be familiar to most as both a trainer and former president and long-serving committeeman of the Beenleigh club.
But for more than two years the name Gary Mackay had been absent from the winners’ list.
That was until Fernando Grand won a Maiden at Albion Park on September 8, then going on to win a Thursday night Novice at Albion Park two starts later.
Prior to purchasing Fernando Grand, Mackay said his attention had been focussed on his Beenleigh based real-estate business.
Now he has set his sights on a possible G2 Derby tilt with the son of Fernando Bale (x Precious Sal) at Albion Park in early December.
Fernando Grand is already on track to become Mackay’s best greyhound since Paua To Launch, which won 13 races and more than $37,000 in prizemoney prior to his retirement in January 2020.
“I think he’s going to be a handy dog,” Mackay said.
“I had Friendz, Paua To Launch and a good blue dog called Nursery Rhyme and he (Fernando Grand) is on track to be better.”
All seven greyhounds from the Fernando Bale x Precious Sal litter have hit the ground running.
They’ve raced 51 times for a combined 21 wins and over $42,000 in prizemoney.
However, Mackay is hopeful Fernando Grand can be the one that can stand up in some of Queensland’s Summer features.
At the time of writing, Fernando Grand had drawn the blue in a tough heat of the Rising Stars Series featuring Townsville Cup winner Dulceria and the ultra-talented yet troublesome Indictment.
“The proof of whether he can progress to the Derby will be in the Rising Stars,” Mackay admitted, while noting the 23-month-old was still a work in progress.
“On the way to the races he’s barking in the trailer and just using up lots of energy.
“He’s feeling good but he’s highly strung. We’re trying a few things to calm him down.”
BGRC chief looking forward to carnival
BGRC CEO Luke Gatehouse is eagerly anticipating the looming Summer Carnival.
The Queensland Flame will now kick-start the recently re-shaped programme which culminates in the Gold Bullion and Gold Cup Finals in early February.
It has seen the G2 Queensland Derby and G2 Bogie Leigh Futurity, for greyhounds 30 months or younger, pushed back a week to accommodate the new race.
Gatehouse said there was an abundance of young racing talent in Queensland at present.
He was also looking forward to welcoming patrons in what shapes as a busy time for the club, with Christmas party bookings already filling fast.
“It is an ideal way to kick-start the Summer Carnival,” he said.
“The races present as an ideal opportunity for greyhounds south of the border to come and sight Albion Park before the rich features in January next year.”