SA’s festival a red-hot success

Caption: The Trengove clan take centrestage after their kennel star Frankie Boy saluted in The Blaze over 730m. (Photo: Kurt Donsberg)

South Australian round-up with KURT DONSBERG

With the new initiative of The Phoenix announced by Greyhound Racing Victoria, Greyhound Racing South Australia set aside some coin to see if they could secure a slot in the inaugural running of the highly lucrative, and desirable, event.
Unfortunately GRSA missed a slot, but what that meant was there was ‘75 large’ to spend …  so they decided to really make December a month to remember and came up with a series of their own for South Australians and their dogs.
The ‘Festival of Fire’ was borne and it covered a lot of bases – sprints, middle distance races and a distance final too.

There were six feature finals in total being run on the 23rd of December, with a few having heats run on either the 16th or 18th of December…..and there was some decent coin on offer with one final worth 20 grand and all others having a minimum of 10 gorillas for first place!
It was the biggest night of prizemoney on offer outside the Adelaide Cup meeting and the top local trainers brought their very best dogs!

On offer were The Ashes – the premiere event on the night with a $20,000 first prize, The Bonfire, The Inferno, The Flame, The Spark and The Blaze.

In form Stout Monelli, trained by Tim Aloisi was the favourite for The Ashes, and after just scraping in to the final following an uncharacteristic poor run in the heat, he didn’t disappoint taking out the top gong in dominating style.

“I was very disappointed by the run in the heat and put it down to just an off night,” said Tim Aloisi.

“The main thing was he qualified and I knew he could turn it around for the final. The dog has continually drawn box 6, 7 or 8 so to draw box 1 in the final was always going to be a huge help.

“I was very happy with Stout’s run in the final. He came out running like we know he can. To run 30.17 on an average track, which is the fastest by any SA trained dog, I was wrapped and shows the ability of the dog.

“He’s gone four lengths off Aston Rupee, who ran 29.95 on an extremely fast track in a 1v1 match race, so I couldn’t of ask more of the dog.”

As for the inaugural Festival of Fire, Tim was a big fan.

“The series was a great idea by GRSA and was supported by everyone. I think it was a great carnival and this showed by the crowds we had and the quality of dogs racing.

“Hopefully it’s a series that we look at doing every year as it gives every dog in SA a great chance to race for a cup, rug and great prizemoney.

“I think South Australian racing has come a long way.”

The thoughts of the new ‘Festival of Fire’ were echoed by Lewiston-based trainer, Clint Trengove, who had a night to remember knocking off three of the six feature finals.

“I thought it was a terrific concept,” he said. “It gave a lot of dogs an opportunity to race for decent prizemoney on our best night of racing and there was a real buzz around the track.”

Rugging up just the three dogs on the night, his chargers made maximum financial gain and continued on the winning form the kennel has been experiencing of late.

Victa Jess was their first cab off the rank in The Flame over the 595m middle distance, and Clint was more than pleased with her run.

“She’d been real lucky with her box draws of late. She had box 1 for her previous five starts and I believe dogs can gain a lot of confidence from good runs out of good boxes – which she obviously did. She just kept coming and hit the line well to win.”

The next final was The Blaze over 730m and featured their current kennel star – Frankie Boy.

“I rated Frankie Boy as my best chance of the night. If he got a clear run he was always going to be hard to be beat,” said Clint. And the race panned out just as planned with Frankie able to run down Barbados Express, for Ben Rawlings, who ran a brilliant race herself.

The win gave Frankie his fourth win over the 730m distance from his five starts, and gave the Trengove’s their second win of the night.

Their third and final win came in The Spark over the 530m trip with Kingsville Flyer. ‘Jonty’ as he’s better known around the kennels is a littermate to Frankie Boy and both are a repeat mating of the champion chaser, Sennachie (Fernando Bale x Rhonda Rocks).

“He came across to us from Victoria after the owners saw how Frankie had been going. His win in the heat on the Saturday was real good so we thought he had a chance. He’s just an honest, hard chaser and delivers the same consistent run each week.”

The win capped off a memorable night for the Trengove’s, but Clint remained his usual self – humble.

“I’m not a huge limelight person,” he said. “We had a few beers to celebrate but I just like to be around me dogs. They keep me calm and grounded and they don’t expect anything from me.

“If we look after them, they’ll look after us!”

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