The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

YET another spectacular night of chasing at The Meadows is in the record books yet Australian Cup semi-final night may well be one for Ripley’s.

Peter Davis

21 February 2021

YET another spectacular night of chasing at The Meadows is in the record books yet Australian Cup semi-final night may well be one for Ripley’s.

Ten of the 11 races were won by Wheeler-bred sires with the only exception being the victory of Shima Classic in the final Australian Cup heat yet even his sire (Mepunga Blazer) is a son of Barcia Bale.

Such has been the success of Barcia Bale and Fernando Bale, the pair – in the first two months of this year – have accumulated a staggering $6.985m in stakes.

Their cumulative earnings are more than $2.2m more than the remaining eight dogs in the nation’s top 10 earners (Aston Dee Bee, My Bro Fabio, Fabregas, Dyna Double One, Kinloch Brae, Allen Deed, Mepunga Blazer and Cosmic Rumble).

In January and February, the two headliners had 2938 starters while the eight mentioned above had 2739 combined.

And it’s interesting that only one non-colonial sire sits in the top 10. Certainly, Fernando Bale’s pedigree is half American yet it does highlight the need to find the next potent outcross for daughters this pair.

SH Avatar has been the answer for some and sons of KC And All – the likes of Orson Allen, Aston Kimetto, Superior Panama, Bernado and Pat C Sabbath – have caught the attention of discerning breeders.

Someone is sitting on an unclaimed gold strike in the stud ranks with outcrosses quickly becoming a must rather than an option.

IT’S TIME

Ah Queensland, beautiful one day, unable to be contacted the next!

On Monday, a bizarre anomaly again raised its head at Bundaberg.

Seems as though the timing mechanism at Bundy has been somewhat awry for a while and the Queensland Racing and Integrity Commission are, apparently, in the midst of a fix.

Here’s the crux of the problem … the first race of the day on February 15, a maiden over 460m, was comfortably secured by Victim Of Crime in 26.77 seconds.

His first section was purported to be 15.73 secs, with a run home of 11.04 secs.

Race two, was secured by Hardaway Ally in 26.62 secs (15.44, 11.18) – all good so far?

By comparison, Gelignite Jim (in race seven) posted the day’s best time over 460m at 26.35 secs yet his first section recorded was 14.59 secs or 13 lengths quicker than Victim Of Crime while his final burst was just on 11 lengths slower!

And it was not just Gelignite Jim’s performance which showed such a vast and clearly incorrect metric.

A call to QRIC management on Tuesday was finally responded to at the close of business on Friday (following further contact) with the assertion that the query is best directed at their communications department – wonderful!

Greyhound racing is the purest form of wagering in terms of speed and when stewards can’t discern such a flagrant problem (not a mention in the online report for the day), the integrity of Queensland greyhound racing is in the wrong hands.

STRAIGHT FORWARD?

Following Ron and Christine Oldfield’s retirement late last year, the Appin track’s upkeep and trialling operation was taken up by Multiquip’s Managing Director Steve Mikosic.

Steve has a long history in greyhound racing and the continued operation of trials at Appin has been critical to trainers in Sydney’s southern and south west corridor.

In a bygone era, Chrissy Lodge at Leppington, Manooka (at Turner Road, Narellan) run by Sean and Maree Byrne and Parklands (aka Russo’s) at Rossmore were popular tracks while Paul Cauchi’s circle track (now considered Parklea) had a straight track too.

The old Hoxton Park trial track (operated by Brian and Lorraine Barrington) has been the site of Catholic Primary school for more than 20 year while the Rossmore facility in King Street – operated for many years by Pat and Jerry West following George Russo’s retirement – is effectively vacant.

Let’s not forget the now closed Rick Anderson operation at The Driftway (adjoining the racetrack) at Richmond.

Years before, straight tracks also operated in suburban Bass Hill and Toongabbie.

And that’s what makes Appin such an important facility for trainers.

Now, it’s said that Steve Mikocic has, as of last Saturday, cut ties with the venue and the track’s future – as a trialling facility – needs to be sorted pronto.

Another critical consideration is how the vast Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan (which is in draft form with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment) will impact on the Appin site.

In part, the CPCP looks to ensure: “A thriving, liveable Western Parkland City (which) will need to include dedicated areas to protect the region’s many unique native plants and animals and publicly accessible open and green spaces that local communities can enjoy.”

With suburbia now at the Appin track’s doorstep, the GBOTA and GRNSW will need to keep their eye “on the ball”.

CASH BONUS

Great news this week for NSW participants with a cool $1m being added to the prizemoney pool for the remainder of the financial year.

In South Australia, GRSA formulated a grand plan to reward owners and trainers in this time of increased revenue.

GRSA has, historically, paid 46 to 47 per cent of net wagering returns (WAP or Wagering Activity Payment) as prizemoney but has increased that to 50 per cent – in the same ratio to placed prizemoney.

The charts below explain GRSA’s position since July 2020 and, with wagering performing well beyond forecasts, an extra $1.5m has been paid to participants in just seven months.

The payments are on actual revenue receipts with payment in the following month when wagering performance is known.

In five of the past seven months, the additional prizemoney has exceeded $200,000 for the calendar month and the wagering upswing shows no fatigue.

More moola: The increases to particpants in SA explained.

And below is the comparison of returns demonstrated across all categories of meetings in SA.

NEW MAN AT BATHURST

It’s been some months in the mix yet the NSW Greyhound Welfare Integrity Commission will, on Monday, announce the appointment of a new chief steward.

The role has been vacant since Gail Thorsby’s resignation in June 2020 and much speculation has surrounded potential candidates.

Whoever gets the role has a significant task at hand – and that’s to provide participants with consistency across every aspect of racing’s rules.

The application of rules by GWIC stewards varies significantly from venue to venue and lends itself to claims on favouritism and or victimisation.

ON PACE

Since breaking his hock in June, the true grit of Zack Monelli has been laid bare at The Meadows in his past two starts.

In the Zoom Top, the son of Barcia Bale led to the home turn but was swamped late and finished only fourth to Houdini Boy in 42.28 secs.

Seven days later he went within .03 secs of Rajasthan’s first section record (posted the exact same night 12 months back) on the way to holding Houdini Boy at bay in a driving finish.

While the first section remains with Rajasthan, the remarkable turn of foot shown by Zack Monelli created new marks for the second (15.51s) and third (29.07s) posts.

His task in Saturday’s Group 1 Fanta Bale Super Stayers Final is by no means easy but his courage is of the first degree.

And while on the subject of courage, the effort by Ad Astra to finish second to Barcia Blue Boy in the Bulli Gold Cup on Saturday night was remarkable.

The black dog suffered a debilitating stopper bone injury and was ‘ón three legs’ on Sunday morning.

It’s the sort of injury which can be career ending but he will get the very best veterinary attention and intensive care from Karina Britton.