Roughie gets up as Gawler marks 50th anniversary

\"\"CAPTION: Gawler’s 50th Anniversary Cup winner See You Smile with catcher Marli Donsberg and trainer Ben Rawlings. (Photo: Kurt Donsberg)

 South Australian wrap with KURT DONSBERG

ON July 12, 1971, the first ever race meeting at Gawler was held  with a healthy crowd of 8000 in attendance.

Fast forward half a century to July 18, 2021 when we celebrated Gawler’s Golden Anniversary with the 50th Anniversary Cup.

A pretty handy field was assembled with Group One finalist Mister Harlewood, Zipping Sultan – who’s run 29:25 at Sandown – and the recent Shane McQueen winner Rushes all loading into the boxes. But it was a roughie – See You Smile – in box one who stole the show.

Using the rail draw to absolute perfection, she showed enough toe to hold the lead and from there she was never headed. The challengers had every chance but the January 2018 Worm Burner x Psychotic Gold bitch proved too strong and set a new personal best, and a best-of-the-night performance of 30:84 for the 531 metre trip.

Trainer, Ben Rawlings, was rapt with his girl’s performance.

“It’s a great race to win on such a special night for the Gawler Greyhound Club,” he said.

Asked about See You Smile – ‘Betty Lou’ around the kennels – you could sense a hint of frustration for Rawlings.

“She’s always shown a heap of potential, she\’s just so erratic and highly strung that sometimes she runs her races in the lead up. We\’ve put a compression suit on her and don\’t get her out to early before the races and I think it really helps,” he said.

“She missed just under three months earlier this year with a broken metacarpal (front left) and now has a plate in her foot but has come back super and racing in career-best form.”

Her form also shows that she is really motoring since her return with 11 starts yielding five wins and four placings

Those sentiments were backed up by part-owner Dwayne Jiggins.

“We got her at four months of age with a couple of her littermates,” he said. “See You Smile is ‘Betty Lou’, Born Lovely is ‘Cookie’ and Vontae Mack is ‘Elmo’. They all got their kennel names from Ben’s kids who watch a lot of Sesame Street.

“I wasn’t confident from box one as I believe she’s better in 7/8. However, if she got the jump right and landed in top three I felt she couldn’t miss a place. When she pushed through early I thought it was all over as she has a strong run home, albeit with a strong field chasing her home.

“The 26-1 odds were crazy. I thought she was about a 10-1 shot ….. she’s another one that just loves racing. You can see her tail going crazy non-stop to the boxes and now it looks like she will get 600 which I’m sure Ben will go for in the not too distant future! She won (at Gawler)t for her litter sister Cookie who was flying before her unfortunate retirement.”

The win in the 50th Anniversary feature takes See You Smile’s record to 45 starts with 12 wins and 17 placings and prizemoney just a smidge under $30,000.

FANTASTIC RADLEY – THE NEW KID ON THE STAYING BLOCK

In the absence of Sir Truculent, there’s been a new kid on the staying block in SA.  Fantastic Radley has been staking his claim as the distance racing crown……. and he’s looking forward to racing against one of the best stayers in the country when The truck’ returns.

The 2019 Fernando Bale x Fantastic Dotty dog has done everything right since his arrival in South Australia, racking up seven wins from eight local starts. Purchased by a syndicate of four, one of the members Barry Stewart explained how he got involved with the ‘Fantastic’ dogs.

“I sent a Tilka Lass over to NSW for the National Distance Championship in 1994,” he said. “I travelled over there and stayed with Warren Harper at Warnertown, and we became good mates. Warren was good friends with a chap named Bruce Fletcher, and from that connection I was introduced to Jason Fletcher who has the ‘Fantastic’ dogs.”

“Jason had a dog for sale so I bought it and then another and then another so that’s how it all started. Our first ‘Fantastic’ dog was Arlo in 2019, then we got Yankee and Axel, then Reef, Shell and Pippa and now we have the brothers Radley and Victor. We’ve had a long association now, which has been a good deal for both parties.”

Stewart said Fantastic Radley was purchased as a staying prospect.

“His first few runs were over the shorter distance and he didn’t really impress,” he said. “He bumped him up to the 720m at Wentworth Park and he won first-up. He won another before a trip to Melbourne, and although he ran second, his time was a bit ordinary. He raced again at Wenty and finished fifth. Jason was a bit disappointed with the run and thought he’d found his mark in NSW and messaged asking if we’d be interested in a stayer.

“As a syndicate we had some money from previous winners so we used that to reinvest and buy more dogs. We pay ‘a few bob’ for the dogs but if you have three or four involved it’s not that much and it’s been working really well for us.”

And have we seen the best of him yet?

“He’s gone 38:54 over the 680m but he’s running those times when the track hasn’t really been that conducive to fast times – it’s been cold and wet, so we’ve been really surprised,” he said.

“When we first got him, we didn’t think he’d do any good at Murray Bridge – we thought it might be a bit short for him. We thought we’d give him a try and then wait for Angle Park to open up again, but he’s really taken to Murray Bridge. I think the smaller fields have really helped. He isn’t the quickest out but he can muster down the back and with less traffic he’s been able to get to the lead a bit easier.”

Stewart said there were no Interstate plans for the stayer just yet.

“At this stage we’re happy to keep him racing locally. It’s just a hobby for us. We’ll obviously aim for the National Distance Championship, but whether he’s up to the best stayers in Australia or not, who knows?

“Our barometer will be when Sir Truculent comes back to racing in SA. If you can match it with him you’ve got a pretty good stayer – he’s probably the best in the country at the moment. We need him to come back, and Bedrock Fred too – there hasn’t been any races available for the stayers lately so he’s been home in the kennels.

“A local race with Radley, Sir Truculent and Bedrock Fred would be pretty exciting. We’ve beaten Sir Truculent once before but that was after his interstate trip.”

“Ossie (trainer Ossie Chegia) has done a bloody great job keeping the dogs up at the highest level for a long time, but we haven’t got our heads in the clouds. We’re just having a lot of fun with our dogs at the moment and if we have some success along the way it’s all a bonus.”

LOCAL SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MILESTONES

A couple of local trainers reached milestones this month with Adrien Chevalier and Adam Manton both notching up their 100th career wins as trainers. Both trainers only have relatively small kennels so hitting the triple figures is a fantastic effort.

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