Caption: Delighted local trainer Jason Newman with his Mount Gambier Cup winner Departure Gate. (Photo: Kurt Donsberg)
South Australian round-up With KURT DONSBERG
LOCAL trainer Jason Newman scored the biggest win of his short training career when Departure Gate held off a fast-finishing Weblec Ranger in the recent Group Three Mount Gambier Cup.
“I couldn’t believe it!” said a clearly emotional Newman after the final numbers went into the frame.
“And I know I carried on a bit. I was just in shock!”
To say Newmanwas excited is a bit of an understatement. He let go with an almighty scream and fist pump when the number ‘6’ went up. He ran through the crowd throwing random ‘high fives’, found the missus and planted a kiss on her, then ran around to meet his Group Three winner; affectionately known as ‘Phil’.
“I didn’t mind his chances if he could lead,” saud the Mount Gambier trainer. “He was the dog with the fastest overall time and the fastest first splits in the race. His best jumps all came from out wide at the ‘Mount’. He likes to be the dog driving across to the rail and not the one getting pushed into it. So when he jumped to the front I was like ‘We’re a big chance here’.
“Around the home turn he just found a bit, but I could see Neville’s dog (Weblec Ranger) charging home and from where I was standing I didn’t know who’d won – none of us did. When that ‘6’ went up I just lost it!”
Newman was gracious in his speech thanking all those that had made his success possible. He thanked Bourne Kennels for his time with them and also made mention of Gary Parsons – the man who checks his dogs.
“He’s done such an amazing job with my team, they are all lifting because of him. Guys like Gary are the guys that never get thanked, but he’s been working with ‘Phil’ and helping manage him since October.”
Above all else, it was his family, who were all there on the day that he attributed his success to.
“To have all of my family there with me was just amazing and made the day super special. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I’ll never forget it!”
And if the Cup success was their only win that would have been enough, but not only did Newman win the Cup he won the first on the card with maiden Velocity Cleo, won the race after the Cup with Ajmer getting the nod and then to top it all off, partner Melissa Freitag won in the penultimate race of the day with Awesome Alpaca.
“Getting four winners on Cup day, including the Cup – it’s stuff dreams are made of!” he said.
Others also shine on a big day
Outside of the Cup, there were a couple of other highlights at the meeting with Victorian visitor Danny Gibbons rugging up Emani Bale in the 732m distance feature. It was her first run at the track and, as the $1.40 favourite from the seven box, she jumped ok in the four box.
With a round to go the red fawn girl was sitting in third place…..and then let go down the back. She rounded up early leader Locked and pulled away from the field.
The petrol tickets were running out up the straight, but she did enough to hold off the fast-finishing Mick’s Kimmy by nearly two lengths. Making the run even better was the time of 43:10, a new track record breaking the 11-year mark of 43:45.
You’ve got to feel for the runner-up who also broke the previous track record, running 43:22.
Danny Gibbons, in his acceptance speech, was all praise for the country club’s big day and said he’d be recommending other Victorian trainers to come over for the 2023 edition.
Then, when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Giant’s Flash, the current track record holder over the 512m trip, stepped up to the 600m journey for just the second time – and broke that track record too!
It was clear down the back straight that Giant’s Flash was going to win so it was all eyes on the clock again with 34:79 the time to beat. When 34:69 came up it was track record number two for the Tracie Price-trained runner.
On a personal note, it was my first trip to the Mount Gambier Club. I didn’t know what to expect but it was over and above any expectation that I may have had.
The staff at the club were fantastic, the atmosphere was great, the sausages in bread were bang on and the whole feel of the day was like a big family get-together!
Well done Mount Gambier Greyhound Club, well done.
SA ‘Eastar’ match race series
This year saw the fourth running of The ‘Eastar’, a match race series of four two-dog races.
It’s always a spectacle with two dogs matching motors in their custom Easter-themed rugs, and this year was the first time in a couple of years that crowds were allowed on course. And they came in droves as the joint was packed!
It brought together eight of the quickest dogs to have raced at Angle Park over the past few months – and there were some heavy hitters in the line- up, including Came And Went, who recently broke the Broken Hill track record, 2021 SA GOTY Jack’s Well, Gawler Cup winner Victa Haydn and Murray Bridge 395m track record holder Fantastic Victor.
The first match races saw Came And Went v Jack’s Well – and it lived up to the hype with a nose separating the two. Jack’s Well got the nod and the time to beat was 30;22 for the rest.
Harbor Blues v Fly For Trix were the next duo to square off and it was the Kirin Corby-trained Harbor Blues that got the job done and in the process set a new best time of 30:16.
The third match-up was the one most were waiting for – Fantastic Victor v Victa Grosso – and it didn’t disappoint.
Fantastic Victor had some solid form prior to the run with Victa Haydn qualifying at the last minute with a solo trial of 30:31.
Fantastic Victor was always going to lead – he’s electric out of the boxes – but Victa Grosso has a decent motor too.
It panned out as expected but with a recent 600m run under his belt, Fantastic Victor did enough to hold off Victa Grosso and another benchmark time was set – 30:09.
The final match race saw He’s All Purpose take on Victa Haydn. He’s All Purpose can ping on his day but Victa Haydn has the fastest run home of any dog at Angle Park…. Aston Rupee included.
Victa Haydn had him covered and all eyes were on the clock. His time of 30:31 was enough to claim his match race but not the overall title.
Fantastic Victor proved too good for all-comers and took the win, the title and the cash.
Overall the match race was another successful series and if you haven’t seen the ‘box cam’ footage jump on the GRSA website and check it out.