Darwin track ‘tip-top’ for upcoming carnival

\"\"CAPTION: It was a hometown victory in last year’s Darwin Cup for trainer Steele Bolton and Spirit Monelli but strong interstate challengers will be back again in 2021. (Photo: NT News)

By MIKE HILL

SOME short-term pain for long-term gain.

That\’s how Darwin Greyhounds racing manager Greg Aldam described the club\’s recent decision to upgrade the Winnellie Park track.

\”With the club\’s big winter carnival kicking off this month, we wanted to have the track in tip-top condition,\” Aldam said.

\”It also gave the local greyhounds an opportunity to have a bit of time off and a freshen-up for a demanding Cups campaign.\”

For the first time, this month\’s Chief Minister\’s Cup (537m) is a Listed race carrying winning prizemoney of $15,000.

The feature (heats Sunday, July 11 and final July 18) is an ideal lead-up series to the Group 3 $25,000-to-the-winner Darwin Cup over 537m (heats July 25, final Sunday, August 1).

\”The track upgrade is nearing completion,\” Aldam said mid-last month.

He said the top layer of the track had been removed and replaced with a fine 50-50 sand-clay topsoil mix.

\”When finished we will have a top quality surface that should be great for dogs to race on,\” the Darwin boss said.

\”The track camber has also been increased slightly, while the upgrade will allow us to race right through our wet season.

\”We\’ve missed three meetings because of the track work but the committee was determined to have a top-class racing surface for our richest ever Cups Carnival.

\”Our two biggest meetings of the year are only weeks away and because Darwin is experiencing a bumper holiday season we\’re expecting a huge influx of visitors.\”

Aldam said racing was expected to resume late last month.

\”All going well we\’ll have three meetings, including the July Plate (heats and final), leading into the carnival, which this year carries $70,000 in prizemoney,\” he said.

\”That means we will be racing on the Sunday, Wednesday and following Sunday prior to the Chief Minister\’s Cup series which should be ideal to help bed-in the new track.

\”The committee is anticipating several weeks of fantastic racing and we could have at least 20 southern dogs up here for the Cup series.\”

Aldam said Cup regulars Queensland\’s Tom Tzouvelis and Victorian Steve Whyte, who have both won the Cup in recent years, were expected to head the interstate brigade to the Top End.

Tim Mullany was likely to bring a few dogs up from his Nambeelup base, south of Perth, while leading WA trainers James Jeffries and the Crudelis – Enzo and Damien – have indicated they will also have runners in the Cup.

\”Ex-local boy Jamie Hosking, now based in south-east Queensland, has also indicated he will bring a team up for the carnival,\” he said.

\”We could also have a number of Victorian trainers making the trip north.\”

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