WESTERN Australian import Ashom Monelli has made an immediate impact in South Australia, upstaging more-fancied kennel and litter mate Lachlan Monelli with a thrilling last-stride victory in the prestigious John Gray Final last Thursday night.
Ashom Monelli handed trainer Tony Rasmussen feature victories in successive weeks, with Hukanui having won the Listed SA Sprint Championship seven nights earlier.
Rasmussen and wife Lisa won two heats of the $6500 to-the-winner John Gray, SA’s richest fifth grade event, courtesy of kennel newcomers Lachlan Monelli and Ashom Monelli, December ’14 Mogambo – Jackie Bale litter brothers.
Lachlan Monelli set the qualifying standard with a 29.85 heat victory, while Ashom Monelli, which had been competing over middle and staying distances in WA, clocked 30.01 at his Angle Park debut.
While Tony Rasmussen rated Ashom Monelli as the pick of the two in the final, Lachlan Monelli started $2.40 favourite from box two, while Ashom Monelli was a $6.50 chance from the four alley.
There were a few anxious moments for the Rasmussens when the Monelli siblings came together in the run to the first turn, before Ashom Monelli got through unscathed and moved into fourth down the back straight.
Turning for home, Ashom Monelli still had plenty to do, but he stormed home along the inside to edge out Hesa Marlow by a head in 30.04, his 18th win from 51 starts, with favourite Lachlan Monelli finishing sixth.
“It was a massive win,” a delighted Tony Rasmussen said.
“I predicted Ashom Monelli would win the race, although everyone else thought Lachlan Monelli would win.
“Ashom Monelli was bought specifically as a stayer, but he’s quick early, which people don’t realise. When I trialled him at Angle Park he went 4.42 to the post. He can jump and he can finish it off.
“Barring getting checked on the first turn, Ashom Monelli was the pick of our two. I was a bit worried down the back because I thought they might have been too far in front and he might struggle to pick them up, but he got there.
“He’s won two out of two in South Australia now, so he can’t have done any more.
“Tim Aloisi and Matt Lehman bought four ‘Monelli’ dogs. They bought Lachlan Monelli, Honcho Monelli and Bean Monelli in a package deal and they bought Ashom Monelli separately. They always like having a stayer.
“I can’t tell you what they paid for them, but winning the final and the two heats they’ve already won $11,000, so they’re off to a great start.”
Ashom Monelli improved his perfect record in South Australia to three from three on Monday night when stepping up to 600m, leading all-the-way as he romped to an eight-length victory in 34.60.
It wasn’t all good news for the Rasmussen kennel last Thursday night with last start SA Sprint Championship victor Hukanui beaten at odds-on in the open sprint, however a tilt at the Group 1 Australian Cup is still on the cards.
“Hukanui didn’t come out the same as he did the week before, but it was a shocking night for box one,” Rasmussen said.
“At this stage I still think we’ll venture across the border for a crack at the Australian Cup.”
On Friday night at the SA Greyhound of the Year awards, Tony Rasmussen was named Trainer of the Year for the second successive year, tallying 157 TAB winners for 2017, with wife Lisa finishing in third place with 132 winners.