Caption: Jarrad Murray with last year’s Murray Bridge Cup winner, the Ron Murray-trained Air Marshall (Photo: Kurt Donsberg)
South Australian Wrap with KURT DONSBERG
The Murray Bridge Cup will be held on March 20 with an added bonus of being elevated to Group Three level this year.
Previously a Listed event, prizemoney for the Murray Bridge Cup has been increased to Group status with the hope that some of the bigger interstate kennels will now make the trip across the border.
In recent years the number of interstate nominations has been hampered by circumstances outside of anyone’s control with canine coronavirus impacting numbers in 2020 and then Covid putting the brakes on just about everything in 2021.
But the interstate invasion is expected to be significant this year with borders open and prizemoney at exciting new levels.
One Victorian trainer who has had a crack at the Cup in previous years is Matt Lanigan, and he’s looking to take the Cup back home this time round.
“We came over last year with Weblec Ace and Weblec Whirl. Ace made the final and was doing his best work late,” said Lanigan. “This year we hope to bring On the Bit over for the Cup. He’s had the past five weeks off due to a slight injury from the Warragul Cup heats.
If I can get him 100 per cent right, we’ll most likely come to Murray Bridge and trial and see how he goes – that’s the target at this stage.”
Interstate dogs seem to like the one-turn track at Murray Bridge. Eye Got it for Andrew Paraskevas took out the inaugural Cup in 2019, while Short Pork still jointly holds the track record with Shadow Mist with a time of 25:08 after his heat win in 2020 (finishing second in the final).
Club President Neville Loechel was excited about the new Group race and was confident the big names would come.
“The quality of racing, and the calibre of dogs we see at the Cup each year is very high, so for the Cup to now be Group Three listed is great news,” he said.
Not only is the Murray Bridge Cup now a Group Three event, but so is the Mount Gambier Cup. Both events are likely to attract strong interest from across the border and there are also some nice bonuses on offer with $5000 on offer if any dog can win both cups and another $5000 up for grabs if the same trainer can take home both trophies.
Mt Gambier President Noel Perry was just as pleased as his Murray Bridge counterpart.
“To see a Group race at Mount Gambier is wonderful. We generally get a few interstaters come over, so this change will further elevate the status of our Cup,” he said.
The Murray Bridge Cup heats will be run on March 14 with the final on March 20.
JACK VOTED SA’S TOP DOG
Jack’s Well was named 2021 South Australian Greyhound of the Year at the recent annual dinner at Angle Park.
With four other competing finalists, Jack’s Well, trained at Meningle by Cameron Butcher, stamped his authority early on in the count with the first three judges giving the 2019 son of Aston Dee Bee x Molly Be Nimble top marks. And it wasn’t hard to see why.
Jack’s Well had 36 starts for the 2021 season for 17 wins, 9 placings and over $78,000 in prizemoney and was always going to be hard to beat. His highlights for the year included wins in the SA St Leger, both Breeders’ Preludes, the SA Anniversary and a heat of the Group One Adelaide Cup before finishing third in the final of South Australia’s biggest race.
Voting continued later in the evening, with the votes of four judges remaining and again Jack’s Well swept the pool claiming a unanimous victory on 35 votes, with littermates Victa Grosso (25 votes) and Victa Haydn (19 votes) filling second and third positions.
“I was surprised he won to be honest” said a gracious Cameron Butcher. “I thought one of the ‘Victa’ dogs might win but I’m happy to be up here accepting the award.”
Not only did Jack’s Well take out top honours he also won the SA Bred and SA Sprinting titles too.
Butcher is no stranger to success with his kennel regularly turning out very handy dogs. In 2017 he won the Greyhound of the Year title with On Fire, last year he was runner-up with Coorong Lucy and in 2016 his kennel star Worm Burner received the top billing.
Worm Burner has gone on to be an impressive stud dog and for the past three year has won the leading sire award. In 2021 he produced 420 winners in South Australia alone and his current Australia wide progeny prizemoney is in excess of $4m.
Other winners on the night were Tony Rasmussen taking out the Leading Trainer Award for the sixth year running with 217 winners. Fantastic Radley went home with the Stayer of the Year Award with 11 wins over the longer trip – including a purple patch of 10 in a row.
RECORDS TUMBLE ACROSS SOUTH AUSTRLIA
Records have been tumbling across the state over the past five weeks.
In late January Lektra Gal set a new mark for the 305m trip at Mount Gambier, running a slick 17:28.
Not to be outdone, Tracie Price produced two dogs who both ran records.
Minnie Banjo went 22:42 over the 400m, taking nearly two lengths off the previous best of 22:55. And while that was impressive, the run of Giant’s Flash was even better.
Lining up as a hot favourite, Giant’s Flash jumped awkwardly but then found another gear and never gave his rivals a chance. All eyes were on the clock and when it stopped on 29:19 people didn’t know where to look. It bettered the mark set by Tracie’s other star, Rockoon, of 29:28 set back in 2018.
Murray Bridge also saw the 395m record broken by the smallest possible margin when Fantastic Victor shaved 0.01 seconds off Craggy Island’s mark of 21:76, setting a new time of 21:75. Trainer Ossie Chegia now holds three of the four records on the one-turn track with Fantastic Shell holding the 530m record at 29:48, and Fantastic Radley top of the pops over 680m with a 38:35 run under his belt.
Then to finish off, Stout Monelli unleashed over the 595m at the redeveloped Angle Park. The previous best was 34 seconds flat set by Buzz Along and we all wondered if and when the magical 354 seconds would be broken. Well, we didn’t have to wait long. Stout Monelli didn’t just break 34 seconds – he obliterated it, running 33:68!! Fast tracks plus fast dogs equals fast times!