Caption: An emotional Graham Hall with TAB Qld Flame winner Spotted Elk (Photo: Box 1 Photography)
By ALEX NOLAN
December’s Listed TAB Queensland Flame has lit the fuse for what promises to be a searing hot conclusion to the Golden Greys Summer Carnival in the new year.
With Queensland’s borders thrown open to the entire country, interstate raiders have marched into the Sunshine State to take on the best of the locals, who are in no hurry to hand over the abundance of riches on offer.
It all comes to a head on February 3, and the third running of the $300,000 Group 1 Gold Bullion at Albion Park.
The carnival has already captured the attention of the greater public.
A massive crowd was on hand to witness Spotted Elk take the inaugural Flame, before she jetted to Melbourne to represent Queensland and trainers Graham and Leanne Hall in the TAB Phoenix.
Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club CEO Luke Gatehouse said that was just the beginning, and he is eagerly anticipating what lies ahead.
“The recent prizemoney increases announced by Racing Queensland will launch the Golden Greys to a whole new level,” he said.
The four Group and Listed events across January and February include the:
- Golden Sands 600m Group 2 ($60,000) – Heats December 30, Final January 6;
- Golden Ticket 520m Group 3 ($60,000) – Heats January 13, Final January 20;
- Gold Bullion 520m Group 1 ($300,000) – Heats January 27, Final February 3; and
- Gold Cup 710m Listed ($150,000) – Heats January 27, Final February 3.
Gatehouse said he expected an influx of talent to arrive in Queensland, citing the fact both the winter and summer carnivals had attracted the nation’s best despite travel restrictions over the past two years.
One trainer who has sent his greyhounds more than 3600km to be part of the historic carnival, is Western Australia’s Shayne Williams.
He sent a trio of greyhounds to the Tom Tzouvelis yard in readiness for the Queensland Derby and Bogie Leigh Futurity heats, but is hopeful they’ll aim up to higher honours.
He is particularly excited about Unsee This, who has competed at a high level in the West and trialled in 29.81 seconds at Albion Park less than 48 hours after arriving.
“At this stage Tiger Town will be aimed at the Golden Sands and hopefully, we can qualify Unsee This for the Gold Bullion via the Golden Ticket,” he said.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the Golden Ticket had been a great initiative that provides the winner direct entry into the Gold Bullion Final.
The winner will be determined by the fastest time across four two-greyhound match races.
“The Gold Bullion offers $200,000 to the winner and maintains its standing as one of the most lucrative sprints on the calendar,” Mr Parnell said.
TAB’s Gerard Daffy said interstate raiders were vital to continued growth of the carnival from a wagering perspective.
“When you put the money on, they will come,” he said.
“From a (TAB) perspective we need it as well, because it gives us in the media more talkability to build up the carnival.”
From a local perspective, Spotted Elk and litter sister Extra Malt are expected to feature prominently in both the Gold Bullion and Golden Sands respectively.
The Tony Brett kennel is also warming up right on time, having enjoyed five winners from just 18 starts at Albion Park across November and the start of December.
Officials overcame their first major hurdle early in the carnival.
Queensland’s unseasonably wet start to the season saw the Queensland Derby and Bogie Leigh Futurity heats and final pushed back a week when severe storms swept across Brisbane and washed out the meeting on December 9.
Heats for both series took place at the time Chase was sent to print.
We will endeavour to bring you all of the colour and excitement from both finals in next month’s edition.