Caption: Top NQ trainer Rhonda Essery with Miss Priddle, a likely candidate for the upcoming Listed Wildcard at Townsville. (Photo: Louise Partland)

Qld Country Wrap With MIKE HILL

TOWNSVILLE is gearing up for its rich annual Cup Carnival, kicking off with the $25,000 Listed Wildcard (498m) series this month.

The winner gains automatic entry into the Group 3 $60,000 Townsville Cup (498m) final in early September.

Heats of the Wildcard, restricted to regional dogs, will be run on August 16 with the $15,000-to-the-winner final on August 23.

The series appears to be wide open with no single sprinter standing out, although Wink At Me (Ken Boody), Miss Priddle (Rhonda Essery), Young Rob (Robert Lound) and Paw Baby (Laurie Wode) look the early fancies.

“It’s wide open … it’s anybody’s race,” said one leading trainer.

“There’s no standout sprinter up here at the moment.

“It looks to be a lottery and the box draw will play a vital role.”

Top trainer Rhonda Essery said her two main Wildcard hopes were the inform Miss Priddle and Noble Ability.

Miss Priddle (Barcia Bale-Mitchie Madam) has won 14 of 44 starts, including five of her past eight, and has a 28.68s PB over the 498m journey.

Essery said she was hoping her two star sprinters – littermates Stratford and Samshu – could be back for the series.

“Both are recovering from niggling injuries,” she said.

At their best, both would be standouts against local company.

Stratford has a 35-19-16 record with prizemoney standing at just over $101,000 from 100 starts, while Samshu’s stats stand at 28-24-14 (95 starts) with prizemoney just under $75,000.

Wink At Me, trained by Ken Boody at Dalma, west of Rockhampton, qualifies for the series after previously being trained by leading Townsville conditioner Brad Belford.

With 17 wins from 79 starts, the Doug Warrington-owned sprinter has a 28.73s PB for the trip.

The black sprinter (Fernando Bale-It’s A Wink) was an impressive all-the-way winner from box one in the Townsville Grand Prix (498m) in June and finished third to kennelmate Dixie Gambles in the $17,700 TAB Regional Origin Challenge (520m) at Albion Park last month.

A repeat performance of those runs would make it tough for the opposition although Young Rob and Paw Baby also have good recent form.

Young Rob is coming off a 28.79s win last month and has five victories from his past nine starts, while Paw Baby has been placed in 13 of her past 14 runs, including four wins – three over 498m.

She has one of the faster times with a 28.66s PB to her credit.

However, both sprinters appear to need inside boxes to be at their best.

Brad Belford, who currently has a commanding lead in the Townsville trainers premiership with 75 wins for the year, said his topline stock was limited.

But he’s hoping to have Midnight Frankie back after a short break.

The black dog (Zambora Brockie-Midnight Francis) has a 28.77s PB and a record of 10 wins from 45 starts.

Others with suitable credentials include Harold Hovi’s Black Iron, Winter Ghost (Glen Olsen), Bonnie Goes Bang (Kevin Wheeler) and Jungle Fever (Graham Thomson).

The Townsville carnival continues into September with the rich Cup (heats Sept 2, final Sept 9), the $9800 Cup Consolation (498m), the $9800 North Queensland Sprint (380m) and the $4700 Maiden 1000 (380m).

Later in the month, the club will stage the Townsville Derby and Futurity (heats Sept 20, final Sept 27), both over 498m and carrying prizemoney of $6500.


MEANWHILE Matt Heilbronn is quietly confident his grand sprinter Dulceria, given a bit of luck,  can win back-to-back G3 Townsville Cups.

“However, it will depend heavily on the opposition,” the Ipswich-based trainer said.

Dulceria gave Heilbronn his first taste of group glory when she powerfully won last year’s Townsville feature.

Since then the daughter of Zambora Brockie and Cindy Rumble has had an outstanding 12 months of racing.

She has added a host of victories to her record, which now stands at 17 wins and 17 placings from 54 starts, including success in the G3 Rockhampton Cup in April and qualifying for another three group finals.

She has matched it with some of the country’s best sprinters, the likes of Jungle Deuce, Equaliser and Orchestrate.

Heilbronn said his little champ was rock hard following a series of runs over 600m at Albion Park that included two highly impressive victories and an agonisingly close second to Street Cry last month.

“She was unlucky to get beaten in that run. She got bogged down on the rails.”

Then four nights later in a 4th/5th Grade over  600m at Albion Park she was lucky to stay on her feet after being turned sideways in a first-corner scrimmage.

After the race Heilbronn said: “She’s OK for now.”

He said he was committed to heading north with Dulceria as long as she was sound.

However, he admitted ‘it’s not a cheap trip’.

“A lot of the accommodation is booked up and flights to Townsville are expensive,” the trainer said.

“Everything seems to be against many getting up there.”

He said the Cup (heats, September 2 and final September 9) clashed with the Nationals (August 27) and the Million Dollar Chase series (Casino qualifier August 11 and 18;  Grafton August 21 and 28).


CURRENT Queensland Young Achiever, Jedda Cutlack, continues to impress, adding   another major accomplishment to her growing list of credits by ‘rugging up’ the quinella in last month’s $20,000 Listed Chief Ministers Cup (537m) at Darwin.

Cutlack had sent Lily Monelli and Shaye to Darwin conditioner Brian Kelleher for a tilt at the $34,000 Group 3 Darwin Cup.

“We sent them up a bit early,” she said.

It’s the first time Cutlack, as head kennel trainer, has sent dogs to the Top End.

Shaye (SH Avatar-Sawadee)  romped home in her heat seven nights earlier, winning by seven-and-a-half lengths in 31.39s, while Lily Monelli was narrowly beaten in her heat by the Steele Bolton-trained Falsely Accused.

However, in the final Lily Monelli ($4.70) aided by the inside box just held off kennelmate and $2.20 favourite Shaye (box 6) in a driving finish to the line.

The winner clocked a smart 31.27s.

Cutlack, who is currently eighth on the Albion Park trainers premiership and fourth on the combined (male-female) Ipswich points table, wasn’t sure last month if she would be sending runners north for the Townsville Cup.

“I’ll make a decision as we get closer to nominations,” she said.

After a highly successful season last year in which she led in 28 winners, including her first Group success, Cutlack’s stellar run has continued in recent months.

A few nights before her Chief Ministers Cup success, she produced talented chaser Sunburst for an all-the-way victory in the $11,000 GDSC Stayers Cup (660m) at Grafton.

As Chase went to press, the Park Ridge South-based trainer had her fingers crossed hoping for more success in the Darwin Cup.


ROCKHAMPTON’S only feature event for August is the $6500 Young Guns series over 407 metres.

Heats for the event, which is restricted to greyhounds 30 months or younger, will be run on August 24 with the final seven nights later.


RACING Queensland has confirmed that track modification works at Bundaberg will begin this month.

It had been planned to start the work in mid-July, but was delayed until early August, giving the club two extra meetings.

During the track renovations, currently anticipated to take four months, race meetings normally scheduled for Bundaberg will be replaced by fortnightly meetings at Rockhampton and weekly Monday afternoon meetings at Ipswich.

RQ is also finalising a support package for locally trained greyhounds that have raced at Bundaberg and will be disadvantaged by the cessation of racing at the club.

Details of the support package, inclusive of the qualifying criteria and the weekly support levels, will be announced simultaneous with further information on the confirmed starting date for the track renovations once finalised.