Shepparton feature just gets better

\"\"Caption: Happy connections of Crook Me Kindly after his big win in the Northern Districts Cup in 2017.

THE Northern Districts Cup, a $35,500 Group 3 feature with special restrictions, will be run at Shepparton over 450m later this month.

First run in 2014, the event has a unique criteria in that it is open only to greyhounds that are Victorian bred, have not won in the city, have raced on at least two occasions at Shepparton and have not won more than $25,000 in prizemoney.

The series kicks off with heats on Monday, October 25, and the $25,000-to-the-winner final will be run on Saturday, October 30, with the victor effectively doubling its career earnings at the very least.

Club manager Carl McGrath said the Cup was gaining popularity, particularly with trainers in the Shepparton and Wangaratta regions.

McGrath said he was anticipating between four and six heats for the feature series.

\”It\’s getting bigger and bigger and this year it coincides with our memorial night,\” he said.

McGrath said it was a night in which the club honoured those who had contributed much to the sport, including Hall-of-Famer Alec Reid, Kel Tremellen, Keith Warburton, Doug Ferremi and Les Harris.

\”Normally the Cup has been won by promising up-and-coming young sprinters,\” he said.

\”The winners usually go on to bigger and better things, winning the likes of a country cup or performing well on city tracks.\”

Meanwhile, club officials have their fingers crossed that Covid-19 restrictions may be eased come Cup night to at least allow registered patrons on to the course.

The Cup has had some happy winners in its short history – none more than the connections Crook Me Kindly, winner of the November 2017 edition. (That year the Cup was run twice – in May and November.)

Eight former school mates from Wodonga, on the Victorian-NSW border, had put together the winnings from their punters club to buy a greyhound at the 2016 Ready-To-Race Auctions in Victoria.

With syndicate manager Chris Rogers calling the shots, the Peckerheads made a successful $3500 bid to secure an unraced black dog (Barcia Bale-Sprite Lee).

Early in his career the dog, now racing under the name of  Crook Me Kindly, never looked like being anything special, winning his maiden in a pedestrian 24.74s at Bendigo at the start of 2017.

In August, after some disappointing efforts on the track, Rogers and his mates decided to transfer their greyhound into the kennels of prominent trainers Jason and Jessica Sharp.

The move proved to be a masterstroke with immediate rewards.

Under the care of Team Sharp, the 30kg chaser won four of his next eight starts with two placings, including the ND Cup at Shepparton.

Rogers said, at the time, it was an enormous thrill to see their little champ – affectionately known as Sam – salute in the $25,000 to the winner feature.

\”Five of us were at the track – they knew if he won they\’d be kicking themselves that they weren\’t there for the photo.

\”A few of the other boys live a long way away so they couldn\’t make it – but it was such a great night and so exciting to see him win.

\”We have been very lucky with him – his brother sold for $15,000 at the auction – so as it turns out he has been a bit of a bargain buy for us.\”.

Crook Me Kindly continued to thrill his group of owners with more success, finally retiring in mid-2019 with the impressive record of 17 wins and 29 placings from 89 starts and $64,630 in prizemoney.

Northern Districts Cup previous winners: 2014 Dewana Result, 2015 Soda Lad, 2016 Bear’s Gold, 2017 Sure To Excite (May), Crook Me Kindly (Nov), 2018 Circus Oasis, 2019 Swift Current, 2020 Sonny Daze.

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