Hot Pup Wins Drama-Charged Spring Classic

PANAMA Pepper will undergo a stewards trial before racing again after suffering hypoxia when winning the Spring Classic at Cannington on Wednesday.

David Brasch

9 September 2021

EXCITING youngster Panama Pepper will undergo a stewards trial before racing again after suffering hypoxia when winning the final of the Spring Maiden Classic (530m) at Cannington on Wednesday night.

The son of Superior Panama and Starlight Bella started to stagger coming to the finish line, then blacked out before eventually crashing over the outside rail.

Hypoxia is an absence of enough oxygen in the tissues to sustain bodily functions.

Trainer Steve Withers reported the dog had recovered 15 minutes later but would be given a few weeks to recover and to see if he has sustained any injury that needs attention before contesting the stewards trial.

Miraculously,  Panama Pepper held on to score by a length and-a-half after leading clearly at the top of the home straight. He downed Good To Go and Fired Up Finn in 30.38.

It was an eventful race for the winner to say the least.

He began brilliantly but was joined in the lead going around the first turn where he was turned sideways and lost all momentum.

But, by the back straight, he had picked himself up and regained the lead and chased frantically to put away his rivals.

“We think that’s what has probably caused the hypoxia,” Withers said.

“He has never shown it before, but he is a very committed chaser and for him to keep going after that severe interference may have done it.”

Withers said the dog has a few scratches but is not lame from the fall over the outside rail.

“We will check him out over the next few days and also hope he has no mental scars from the incident,” he said.

A syndicate bought two dog pups from the litter from breeder Paul Stuart at three months of age. Th syndicate includes WA racing media personality Leia Ernest and her fiance Nic Harry (pictured with their dog).

“The other brother we have is better than Panama Pepper but I still think this dog will break 30 seconds at Cannington,” he said.

“He is a very, very fast dog, a natural speed dog.”

Withers and the syndicate were keen to get pups by Superior Panama into their kennel.

“These two will race around 33 kilos, but they both look like they are 38 kilo dogs such is their build, all leg and very long in the body.”

Their dam Starlight Bella (Barcia Bale-Starlight Delly) is from the famed Miata damline.

Panama Pepper’s Spring Classic win capped off a huge 24 hours for Wither who a day earlier was crowned Australian Trainer of the Year for the 2020/21 racing season.

His champion greyhound Tommy Shelby was declared Australian Greyhound of the Year also.