Caption: Farmor Beach on the way to victory in the 2020 Group 3 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)
Vince Curry Memorial Maiden 520m
Group 3, $50,000 to the winner
Heats January 22, semi-finals January 29,
Final February 5
By MIKE HILL
“IT’S back where it belongs,” said Ipswich Greyhound Club president Merv Page.
He was commenting on the prizemoney boost for the rich Group 3 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden Series over 520m, kicking off with heats on Saturday, January 22.
Promoted as Australia’s richest greyhound race for maidens, Racing Queensland has lifted this year’s purse by $15,000 to a record $75,000, with winning connections collecting $50,000.
The last time prizemoney was over $70,000 was in 2015, when the Geoff Uhrhane-trained Heidi Benz was successful.
Page said the club was thrilled with the sharp lift in prizemoney.
“It should ensure a fantastic three-night series,” he said.
“And with the Queensland border opening up we’re expecting a large number of youngsters from northern NSW to make the trip.
“There’s been plenty of young dogs trialling at Ipswich in recent weeks and I’m expecting those numbers to increase as we get closer to the series.”
“We’re hoping for eight heats on the opening night.”
Semi-finals will be run on Saturday, January 29, with the $50,000-to-the-winner final on Saturday, February 5.
“I’m certain it’s going to be another great series,” Page said.
“Dogs who place in the final inevitably go on to bigger and better things.
“It’s always been the case.
“It’s been a great launching pad for some wonderful careers.”
Standout winners over the years include Token Prince (1997), Just The Best (1999), High Earner (2009), dead-heaters Split Image and Paua To Avoid (2016) and Farmor Beach (2020).
One pup already showing enormous potential on the trialling track is the unraced youngster Black Comanche (Zambora Brockie-Tahlia’s Way) owned by Peter Hare of Stinger Noir fame.
Under the guidance of Park Ridge-based trainer Greg Stella, the talented young sprinter has been flying in recent trials.
“He’s showing excellent signs and is doing everything right,” Stella said.
“We started trialling him at 17 months and he’s been running FFA times from day one.
“Potentially he can’t trial any better.
“It’s very uncommon for a dog of his age to be running the times he is.
“We couldn’t be happier with him.”
Stella said the youngster had trialled over the 431m at Ipswich, had a box-to-box at Albion Park and been up the 366m straight at Capalaba.
In all cases the astute trainer had been more than happy with the effort.
“He’s been well-schooled and we’ve had plenty of time to prepare him,” Stella said.
“He’s already had a trial with another dog and he’ll be 21 months old when the series kicks off.
“It will all come down to his racing pattern and if he can run 500m.”
Stella said Black Comanche would have at least one trial over the 520m trip before the series started and he was confident the dog would handle the distance.
“But he’s still unraced,” he emphasised.
Leading trainers Tony Apap and John Dart also have littermates to Black Comanche in their kennels.
Meanwhile, Pottsville-based owner-trainer Steve Kavanagh, whose youngster Rumble Ranger won last year’s Vince Curry, could be back again this month.
Kavanagh said he had a couple of maidens he may consider for the rich series, while club officials are expecting a number of unsuccessful runners from last month’s $20,000-to-the-winner Ladbrokes Maiden Series at Lismore to compete.
Top trainer Tony Brett, who provided the Ipswich feature with its only dead-heat winners – Split Image and Paua To Avoid in 2016 – is likely to be represented.
Brett had three runners – Short Fuse, Milligan and Litigate – in the Lismore series.
January is a big month for the Ipswich club.
As well as the heats and semi-finals of the Vince Curry, the club will stage the $15,700 Corporate Dollars Challenge (520m) – heats January 1 and $10,205-to-the-winner final on January 8, the same night as the $6500-to-the-winner Dash For Cash Final (288m), while the Ipswich Auction Sprint Series (431m) will be stage next month, heats February 19 and final February 26.