Caption: Weblec Ranger draws away to beat Mr Ticket (No.3) and Fantastic Victor (No4) in the Murray Bridge Cup
South Australian Wrap with KURT DONSBERG
MURRAY Bridge President Neville Loechel achieved a dream result recently when his dog Weblec Ranger won his home-town cup.
“A dream came true last night,” the well-respected local greyhound identity said the next day after a big night of celebrations.
“We’ve got flat batteries this morning!
“We thought we had a chance before the race. (Weblec) Jet was always probably going to find it a bit short, but Ranger was the fastest qualifier but he hasn’t had the most success from out wide. We weren’t sure if he had just a ‘fluky’ jump last week or if he could do it again.
“Ranger started his career off really well, then hit a flat spot, but at his start in Melbourne before the Cup heats he really pushed through well…..and it looks like he really likes Murray Bridge!
“After the jump, I was watching Jet in the race. He boxed really well with Ranger also jumping well and managed to hold the front, but around the bend he (Ranger) wasn’t in front by much. When he hit the straight he did what he did last week – just stretched out and pulled away from them. Jude (Neville’s wife) and I were standing with a mate and we just gave him a little clap and a cheer as he crossed the line.”
We know big Nev is an emotional man, so was there a little tear when Ranger passed the post?
“I’ve tried to keep that under control. I’ve got a lot better, but there was a little tear after the win. The nicest part was that my two granddaughters were able to walk out with Jet and Ranger and then walked all the way around to the boxes with them. It was just really special.”
With Weblec Ranger now having won the Murray Bridge Cup, the lure of the Mount Gambier Cup – and its associated bonuses – may well be on the horizon.
“We never tell Jeff or Angela (Langton) where to race the dogs, that’s entirely up to them,” said Neville.
“Jeff did mention the Mount Gambier Cup so it is a real possibility. We’ll see what their thoughts are and if they decide to go to Mount Gambier we’ll jump in the car and go down for the day too.
“Things haven’t always been this good for us with the dogs” said Neville “We’ve had a lot of success with these recent Weblec dogs, but we’ve been involved in the greyhounds for 40-odd years and these past few years have by far been our best. We’ve been really lucky with the last few litters but we never take it for granted. The mum, Weblec Rose, has been fantastic for us and she still lives out here with us.
“Jeffrey Webber (the other half of “Weblec”) and I have loved every minute of it but it’s really a team effort and we have to thank everyone that has helped along the way – Jeff and Angela, all their staff, our families and especially Damon Donnelly and Callie Wilson. They travelled over with both dogs the past two weeks and gave the dogs the best care – they even stayed at our house after the Cup too!
“I still can’t believe we won to be honest!”
Mount Gambier Cup hits the big time
The Mount Gambier Cup has put on its ‘big boy pants’ this year and is going from strength to strength. It was elevated to a Group Listed race in 2018 and only four years later it now carries official Group status.
With prizemoney for the club’s feature race now well and truly increased, the ‘Mount’ has a race that plenty more people want to win.
“We’ve already had a couple of interstate trainers come across to trial,” said Mount Gambier president Noel Perry.
“Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come with a lot of Victorians looking to win our Cup.”
The Mount Gambier Cup celebrated its 40th running in 2020 and 2022 is set to be bigger and better.
“We’re pretty happy to have our own Group race now and have a big meeting planned,” said Perry. “We’re hopeful we’ll get six or seven heats but would really love to get eight heats with winners going through to the final.
“We have five race distances down here and the plan is to have a feature final over every distance to give all dogs a chance to race on Cup day. We’ll also have a Maiden and Masters final on the day.
“I think Tracie Price might have a few that will go well in the Cup. He’s been going great lately. He had six winners in a meeting recently and then backed it up with seven winners a week or so later. Giant’s Flash recently broke our 512m track record so he’ll be right in it and he has a couple others running well at the moment that I’d expect to see in the mix.
“Off the track we’ll have a couple of local singers, a couple of food vans and we’ll probably have a kids’ race too.”
How about the famous Mount Gambier Barbie? “Yep, we’ll fire the BBQ up too and the beer will be cold as well.”
Mount Gambier is the only real ‘country’ track in South Australia and the sense of community in the south-east is always front of mind for the club.
“We try and donate to charities throughout the year,” said Perry. “It all started when KD (Kevin Douglas) started up a tipping comp that raised money for the Sunset Kitchen that he was involved in at the time. It’s grown a bit from there and now we regularly donate $2000 to a nominated charity. Last year we were able to donate $2000 to four different charities which was wonderful.
“It’s set to be a couple of great meetings (heats and finals) and we are all really excited. It’s going to be great!”
The Mount Gambier Cup will be run on April 10 with heats run on the Sunday prior.
Charlee’s Misty off to Launching Pad
Trainer Ed Burrett, has a pretty keen eye for dogs that he thinks will go well in SA.
That was the case with Charlee’s Misty, who recently booked her spot in the 2022 Launching Pad Series after her win in the South Australian leg.
“I followed her in NSW and asked if she was for sale a while back,” said Burrett. “She wasn’t at that stage, then a few weeks ago they told me she was going up for sale so I bought her. I didn’t buy her for the Launching Pad Series, it just turned out to be good timing.
“I was happy with her run in the heat and was very happy when she drew the red in the final. She jumped really well in the final and I knew she’d be stronger at the finish than the heat, and she was. She’s pulled up really well and is now over with Jason Sharp where she’ll stay until her Victorian campaign is finished.
“We’ll give her a trial eight days before the heat which should be a good timeframe. We obviously need to draw inside to be competitive, but she’s fit and well so she has some chance. I’ll leave it all up to Jason now, but I might go over for the semis if she makes it.
“She will most likely come straight back after the series is done and I’ll see what’s on the calendar for her after that.
“It really is an honour to represent SA and I’d like to thank everyone for the well wishes, some from people I barely know.”