Radley, Rushes take SA finals

\"\"Caption: SA Sprint Final winner Rushes gets a well-deserved pat from Tara Rasmussen. (Photos: Kurt Donsberg)

South Australia wrap with KURT DONSBERG

THE South Australian editions of the National Sprint and Distance were recently run at Murray Bridge to coincide with all other states.

The Distance Championship was won by up-and-coming stayer Fantastic Radley. His win gave him nine on the bounce and really solidified his claim as the best stayer currently racing in South Australia.

He was sent out the $1.55 favourite and, with dogs like Sir Truculent and Bedrock in the race, it showed the regard the white and black son of Fernando Bale is held.

The pink isn’t his favourite box and it’s been a long time since he’s raced in a full field, so there some question how he’d go without all the room he was used to. And those concerns were justified when he started poorly and was at the tail of the field heading into the first bend on the one-turn track.

The doubts were soon gone when the field hit the back straight and Radley unleashed his trademark burn and quickly rounded up the field to race away to win by 6.5 lengths in a dominating performance.

Trainer Ossie Chegia said after the race: “We were confident before the race, but with a full field and calibre of dogs you can never be too sure. We just needed to stay out of trouble early and hope for room down the back. We got that and he got the win. We’re very happy and the dog is happy too.”

We’ll never know how Fantastic Radley might have gone in the National Final with COVID putting a stop to the series, but in my opinion he’d have given the top liners a real run for their money!

The Sprint Final was a much more open affair with half the field given a winning chance. But it was the Lisa Rasmussen-trained Rushes who proved too strong backing up his win in the Shane McQueen final with another solid win in the Sprint.

With a handy jump on the speed from the seven, Rushes lobbed fourth and when trouble struck the leading pair he saw his opportunity and pounced. There was more trouble back in the pack and Rushes sailed away in the end to a comfortable three-length win, stopping the clock in a best of the night, and new personal best time, of 29:78.

With Lisa away, husband Tony was on hand to accept the trophy and make the speeches.

“We always thought he had the ability to win, but in big races you just need the luck to go your way and tonight we had that,” he said. “I’m just thrilled and so happy for our Razza Racing team – we work really hard and have four full-time employees. It’s a massive team effort.”

Lisa also gave me ‘the goss’ on Rushes.

“Tony and I are both so very proud of him and he truly deserved this feature win,” she said.

“He won his first six races in a row all in good time and then had a few unlucky runs being beaten by dogs like Zipping Sultan, El Rapido and Winlock on Top.

“After he had a few more starts where he again had no luck the syndicate and his previous trainer Andy Lord suggested sending him to us for some ‘easier’ races. He won his first start with us and quickly went to top grade.

“He was very unlucky not to make last year’s Adelaide Cup Final running a slick 29.47 to be beaten 3/4 of a length by Taken, who went on to start favourite in the final. His time was actually the third fastest out of all the dogs that competed in the heats but because he ran second he was only first reserve for the final.”

How did Lisa think he would have stacked up in the National Final?

“To be honest, he could compete with the best in Australia if everything went his way. He has a seriously big engine and would have represented SA with a real chance,” she said..

“We will have another crack at this year’s Adelaide Cup. He is still going well and with an invite to next year’s Million Dollar Chase in April/May on offer we might have a nice trip to Sydney as well.”

One of the last Token Prince litters

In his prime Token Prince was one of the greatest dogs to hit the track in the 90’s, recording  nine wins and one second from just 13 race starts. He was a finalist in five Group events, winning two before injury forced his early retirement.

His progeny has been extremely successful and it seems a little surreal that 24 years after he last raced, and 12 years since he sadly passed, another – and maybe one of the last – Token Prince litters has hit the ground.

Prominent SA breeder, Kathy Johnstone had a Token Prince straw “for probably 20 years” and when one of her retired girls came on season it was time to be used.

Kathy was pretty clear when asked why she chose a Token Prince straw.

“While Token Prince was an amazing race dog,” she said. “He’s excelled as a stud dog which is why we originally bought the straw. You only have to look at his litters to see just how good he has been.”

Shanlyn Prince and Gunnadoo Magic spring to mind right away.

Cuddles Lee, a retired bitch of Kathy’s was the chosen one.

“Cuddles could, in fact, run 500m before injury,” she said. “She’s beautifully bred (Brett Lee x Banjo blaze) and, as it turns out, she’s a magnificent mum. I always had her and her sister, Cutie Lee, earmarked as brood bitches and the fact that we had that service, well the the stars aligned for us.”

Successful insemination scans showed seven little pups on board and the big day arrived on August 17.

“Whelping pups can be a pretty stressful time, and this one was no different,” said Kathy.

“I took her to the vets when she was a couple days overdue to have a caesarean. Almost as soon as we arrived she started to let down and the first pup was on its way. It was breech but she delivered it on her own. It’s so important, I think, for them to deliver at least one pup so they know they’ve done it – unlike a caesarean when they wake up and all these pups are just there.

“She had seven pups, and they are all sorts of colours – white and blue, white and black, brindles and one black. Hopefully there’s a champion amongst them, but for now I’ll just settle for a rest – it normally takes me a week after whelping to feel normal again!”

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