Sophie’s Sights Set On Neds Lightning

GRNSW’s ‘Neds Friday Night Lightning’ concept, which begins at Wentworth Park this Friday and runs for the next five weeks through to April 12, has received a mixed response from participants.

Adam Dobbin

14 March 2019

GRNSW’s ‘Neds Friday Night Lightning’ concept, which begins at Wentworth Park this Friday and runs for the next five weeks through to April 12, has received a mixed response from participants.

At a time where meetings are being conducted with reduced races and field numbers, or in some instances abandonments altogether, many within the industry believe adding another meeting at the current juncture, especially one that requires navigating your way into Sydney on Friday at peak hour, only serves to heighten an already alarming problem.

One trainer well and truly embracing the concept designed for short-course speedsters is Kellyville Ridge-based Rod Newell, the rookie conditioner currently putting the polish on ‘pocket-rocket’ Bluestone Sophie, chalking up 17 wins from her 30 career starts.

“I got her as a giveaway from Andrew Bell and I was lucky enough to win with her on debut at Lithgow last year – it was a big thrill, I’ve had an absolute ball with her so far,” declared Newell in the lead up to Friday night’s opening round of the Neds Lightning Series (280m) at Wentworth Park.

“On Melbourne Cup Day last year she broke the Potts Park 320m track record running 18.06 which was by far my biggest thrill in the sport. Along the way we’ve knocked back a few nice offers for her but she’s not for sale, she’s part of the family here and later on we are looking to breeding with her.”

A daughter of Golden Easter Egg winner Don’t Knocka Him out of Morningside, the dam a sister to former top flight Victorian gallopers Kiss Me Ketut and Quick Succession, Newell remains hopeful that with further age and maturity, Bluestone Sophie will see out a strong 520 metres.

“Her mother used to get over 600 and 700 metres but that’s breeding for you!” quipped Newell.

“One thing about her is that she has plenty of character which will hold her in good stead to get further – I’ve seen gradual improvement in her run home times and she’s still only 26 months of age, she’s got a lot of racing ahead of her.

“I made myself a promise very early on that I wouldn’t step her up past 350m until she was two years old and I’ve stuck to that. I’m confident she’ll run a good race on Friday whatever the draw and field. I trialed her at Wenty recently and she went very well, like all sprint races it’s just a matter of what she does at box rise, but she’ll be giving her best, like she always does, I’m very happy with her.”

Newell, who has been in and around greyhound racing as long as he can remember, has only in recent times returned to the sport he loves so dearly, driven by a frank conversation he had with his late father Des shortly before his passing.

“I had a chat to Dad and he really convinced me to get back involved and have a proper go, it wasn’t long after that he lost his three year battle with cancer where I was his palliative caregiver,” added Newell.

“My wife Michelle has given me the green light to quit work and train full-time, as everyone knows there’s a lot of work involved in this game and you have to do it 100%. We’ve bought some really nice pups, including a Barcia Bale x Tifi For Me and for now we’re only racing bitches, which will set us up long term hopefully.

“I love the industry and am looking to invest and grow what we are doing here even further. One day Sophie will make the perfect brood bitch but for now she’s got plenty more wins in store. Starting this Friday night, hopefully!”

Over the next five Fridays, points will be awarded in each 280m race held of the Neds Lightning Series (280m), with eight points to the winner, through to one point to the trainer of the eighth placed greyhound.

Points will be accumulated across the five weeks. At the culmination of the series, the leading three trainers will share in the $10,000 in prizemoney – $7,000 to the leading trainer, $2,000 to second place and $1,000 for third.

“I really hope the concept is a success – it’s a good incentive for trainers with short course greyhounds,” added Newell.

“Hopefully GRNSW can tap into the 18-35 market and get some decent crowds along to these Friday meetings and showcase the sport in a positive light.”