PICTURED: Dave Irwin with his dual Sprinters Cup winner Scissor Queen. (Photo: The Daily Examiner)
WINTER CARNIVAL FINALS NIGHT
July 7: Sprinters Cup (450m) $20,000.
Stayers Cup (650m) $15,000.
Maiden (450m) $20,000.
By TERRY WILSON
HE does not have a candidate for the classic, but veteran trainer Dave Irwin cannot wait for the Sprinters Cup (450m) to light up the annual Grafton Winter Carnival.
Irwin, now based 15km outside of the Jacaranda City, won the Cup back-to-back with Scissor Queen in 2012 and 2013.
It is an irony that Irwin, now 72, is looking forward so keenly to see what eventuates at one of the most modern greyhound racing facilities because he was once president of the Gold Coast Greyhound Racing Club in the days when Parklands was closed down by the government of the time.
That was a bitter decision for Irwin but now he gets to be a part of a bright adventure for dog racing in the Northers Rivers area.
And he has some ideas for the Grafton committee to consider.
“The track is unbelievable,” said Irwin.
“It’s a pretty safe and up to all the modern specifications. I have trialled there and I think it has lived up to the hype.”
Irwin said he’d love to see a spectator-friendly grandstand with all the facilities to include a restaurant and bar.
“If the hierarchy can do the right thing and try to get funds for the grandstand then it’d be set to become a major drawcard.
“If that can go ahead and there’s a lift in prizemoney then it’ll put the club back on the top again.”
Grafton secretary manager Glen Heaton said COVID should not be an issue but added that response leading into the start of the carnival late last month has been overwhelming.
The big finals night with the Cup, the Maiden and Distance classics is on July 7.
Adding to the atmosphere is the fact that the club’s camping ground has been chockers for a while.
“The response from trainers has been exceptional and we’ve had more than 100 dogs trialling in the lead-up,” said Heaton, adding that there had not been any major glitches with the new track and facilities.
“We’ve had the odd teething things like televisions not working, but that’s all “We have had a number of people comparing this track to Parklands on the Gold Coast, which was rated the best in Australia.”
Painted Picture, trained by Mark Wilkes at Casino, goes down as the last greyhound to win the Sprinters Cup, held in 2019 and run over the 407m before the track was dug up to allow for the massive redevelopment.
FOOTNOTE: Grafton officials have elected to honour Grafton identity Daryl Gleeson by adding his name to the feature event by calling it the Village Green ‘Fat Albert’ Sprinter’s Cup.
“He was a great Grafton identity,” club secretary manager Glen Heaton said.