Caption: Graham Hall soaks up the atmosphere with Spotted Elk taking the honours in the inaugural Queensland Flame (Photos: Box 1 Photography)
Albion Park wrap with ALEX NOLAN
Graham Hall isn’t one to overuse superlatives but could only describe the feeling that came with training the winning quinella in December’s Queensland Flame as ‘euphoric’.
Hall booked a ticket to The Meadows and the inaugural $1.145 million TAB Phoenix when Spotted Elk beat home litter-sister Extra Malt to win Albion Park’s newest feature race.
In a classic Queensland underdog story, Spotted Elk led for the majority of the Phoenix before finishing a gallant second.
“It was a euphoric moment,” Hall said of winning the Flame component.
“You dream of these things happening and sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t but tonight it all came together for us.”
A brilliant beginner, Spotted Elk held favouritism leading into the Flame Final after drawing Box 1.
She used the inside draw to full effect, running a 5.54sec first split and holding off a field of strong chasers to win in 29.75sec.
Extra Malt’s customary late strength was on display when she ran into second from Box 8, while Farmor Beach stuck on for third after trailing Spotted Elk throughout.
“I was watching Spotted Elk to the first turn and then tried to watch Malt to make sure she got around,” Hall said.
“It was hard to watch both at once but at the end it was pretty easy.”
The Listed Queensland Flame was borne out of Racing Queensland’s participation in greyhound racing’s new ‘Everest’ style slot race, The TAB Phoenix.
It also saw community groups invited to take part, in conjunction with an owner-for-a-night competition.
MALT ON TOP
Despite being upstaged by her sister in the Flame final, there is no doubting Extra Malt’s claims to being Albion Park’s most consistent performer throughout 2021.
In 37 starts at ‘The Creek’ she has saluted an impressive 17 times and, at the time of writing, looked all but certain to finish the season atop the Progressive Points Table on 177.
Unsurprisingly, Fernando Bale (5999) held an almost 4000-point margin on nearest rival Barcia Bale on the leading sire’s table, while Hope’s Magic (979) was well clear of sister Cyndie’s Magic (539) in the leading Dam stakes.
Meanwhile, Sennachie began his quest to join the leading sires’ list in December.
The former star sprinter recorded his first winner at stud when Beau’s Boy (x Wise Misty) won a maiden at Albion Park on December 13.
It was a fitting location for the Albion Park 520m track record holder to record his first win as a sire, having started at the track nine times for seven wins, including two at Group 1 level.
It was also a rewarding win for the Hazelgrove kennel, which prepared the dam Wise Misty to win 33 races for more than $230,000 in prizemoney.
CYNDIE’S MAGICAL SIX
Bill Elson may be a man of few words but his smile said it all, after wife Cyndie Elson trained half the Albion Park card on December 2.
On a night reserved to celebrate the Queensland Flame winner, the Elson kennel went a long way to stealing the limelight.
They boxed six of the 12 winners, including a clean sweep of the final four races.
Bill Elson told Chase it was one of the kennel’s most successful trips to the track, with a previous personal best of five winners on a Bundaberg card.
Between Hopeful Cyndie, Barcelona Cyndie, Magical Cyndie, Cincinnati Lana, Hopeful Lana and Dynamic Bill, the kennel picked up over $30,000 in prizemoney.
Barcelona Cyndie (Barcia Bale x Abby’s Magic) was one of the standout performers in winning a Fifth Grade (Race 6) from Box 8.
“We knocked back an offer for her recently,” Bill told Chase following the win, which took her career record to seven wins from 16 starts and over $25,000 in prizemoney.
At the time of writing, the kennel held an unassailable lead in both the trainer and owner’s premierships.
Son Travis Elson sat in second on the trainer’s list.
TUNGSTON TOUGH IN MAIDEN FINAL
A bitch that broke a hock just five months earlier made it a perfect start to her promising career in winning November’s Dave Brett Memorial Maiden Series at the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club.
Tungsten Miss began like a shot out of a cannon from Box 3 and never looked like losing the final, named in honour of the late champion trainer.
She completed the course in 30.13sec on a rain-affected Albion Park circuit.
She would return seven days later and showed her customary early toe to win a Novice from Box 8 in the exact same time.
But times become irrelevant when you take into consideration the fact Tungsten Miss (Fernando Bale x Miss Lauryn) was fortunate just to be racing.
During the presentation BGRC CEO Luke Gatehouse revealed trainer Tom Tzouvelis, who was at Casino tackling the Cup with Mitchell Street, had informed him Tungsten Miss had recently recovered from a serious injury.
Jedda Cutlack represented the kennel on the night and was listed as Tungsten Miss’s trainer the following week.
She said it was a long process to get the Bitch fit again.
“We were just lucky this race came about at the right time,” she said.
“Basically, we stepped her up to the 500m and she had been trialling really well. We go and check her over one day and she’s sore on the hock.
“She took a bit of time to heal from that too. She came good … then sore again so we eased off and took our time.”
Cutlack said while Tungsten Miss was healthy and happy, they would continue to take her through her classes.
“Half the trouble is nailing the start and she’s managed to do that at all of her starts so far, that is definitely her best asset,” Cutlack said.
Tony Brett, who has won the series named in honour of his father on two occasions, was represented in the race with third placegetter Litigate.
He was beaten into second by Shipwreck, who was one of a trio contesting the final from the Ned Snow kennel.
Brett said he was forever indebted to the club for continuing to run this series in honour of his Dad.
“He was one of the most respected trainers and people around,” he said.
“And it’s great because I trained (Tungsten Miss’s dam) Miss Lauryn and to see her pups on the track is a great thrill.”
Cutlack, who grew up with cats as pets, is making a name for herself in the world of greyhounds.
She said it was pleasing to hear Brett give her a special mention in his presentation speech.
“When you first start out you idolise people (like Tony) … it was really nice to hear,” she said.
SIRES ON ICE THROWS SUPPORT BEHIND CARNIVAL
You can expect to see plenty of races at Albion Park carrying the name “Stinger Noir @ Sires On Ice” over the Golden Greys Carnival, according to studmaster Tony Wiseman.
Stinger Noir raced at Albion Park 36 times for 17 wins and boasted a best time of 29.61 over the 520m.
A 25-time career winner who earned more than $145,000 in stakes, he now stands for $1320.
Wiseman is riding the wave of confidence currently sweeping over the industry nationwide and is keen to increase Sires On Ice’s presence in the Sunshine State through Stinger Noir.
“That litter (Zambora Brockie x Lilly Sur Seine) was obviously very good and was probably the litter that put Zambora Brockie on the map, with the likes of ‘Stinger’ and Sequana,” he said.
“It proved the Zambora and Barcia Bale cross worked really well.”
Wiseman said it has been encouraging to see the industry flourish, not only in Queensland, but nationwide over the past 18 months.
“With prizemoney going up you have plenty of happy people in the industry at the moment,” he said.
“We have really high strike-rates at the moment and that tends to keep us going well. It’s very encouraging to see people breeding again.”