The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

Back in 1987, the Vic Peters Classic qualifying trials at Wentworth Park were conducted midst a deluge yet the grass track raced safely.

Peter Davis

7 November 2021

Back in 1987, the Vic Peters Classic qualifying heats at Wentworth Park were conducted mid-week midst a deluge yet the grass track – with the entire infield lake-like – raced safely.

When, in NSW, the decision to convert most tracks to sand/loam, the ‘pros’ were assurances around less meeting cancellations and fewer toe injuries.

How times have changed!

On Thursday, the Dapto card was abandoned after only one race while, 24 hours later, Richmond failed to get off the blocks.

Each was subject to inclement weather yet the back story to both meetings merits consideration.

Dapto has a near impeccable record of track preparation and the only meetings which have been lost to my recollection in recent times have been due to electrical component failure.

On Thursday, the rain was persistent, the track waterlogged and the decision by stewards to curtail racing at worst was a 50/50 call.

Stewards control all decisions regarding track safety and final oversight. Their final call might upset some but what people should do is shoot the messenger.

Richmond, however, is a very different story.

Meetings have regularly been lost at Richmond and November 5 has a sense of uniquity.

Rumours abound that the track was repatriated mid-week and ‘slower’ at Wednesday race meeting give that notion credence.

Trials were conducted on Thursday but abandoned mid-session due to rain.

That promotes the question: What remediation was taken on Thursday to have the track -semi-prepared for the traditional Friday card?

What was lost with the abandonment was immense. Owners and trainers lose prizemoney, the industry loses significant income, the club staffing and catering budgets are crippled and dogs lose fitness.

Every track in NSW has GRNSW’s oversight but what they cannot safeguard is proper work practices.

Change needs to be made. Richmond needs to decide whether it want to be a trial track or a race track. Appropriate decisions on track use have been shelved and, fortunately, GRNSW are funding the refurbishment of the Thirlmere trial track which may reduce trial demand.

That said, most trainers want to trial on a track they will race on.

At a tangent, Goulburn was under threat of not racing on the same day as Richmond (due to persistent rain) but the meeting was conducted and Donna Campbell’s Sure She Is registered a career best 24.65 win over 440m. Decent time indeed.

Seems like Goulburn has its act well and truly together!

The all-too-frequent cancellations must be attended to. It’s an embarrassment at a professional level and the cost (to industry) is incalculable.

One step forward would be to publish repatriation schedules and allow all participants to see where the cookie crumbles.

This fine mess must be cleared up.

MORAL CODE

Greyhounds Australasia changed rules regarding marring and failing to pursue the lure from November 1 and the shift was long overdue.

While the rules now better protect the ‘fair dinkum’ chasers, trainers are stretching a moral code by a persistence with very dubious chasers.

Take for example former juvenile star Silver Lake.

He incurred the wrath of stewards on April 10 at The Meadows by means of this offering from box seven.

Just on seven months pass and the blue fawn dog – when $1.60 – resumed at Warragul on Saturday night and this was the outcome from the four alley:

The stewards at Warragul deemed Silver Lake to have failed to pursue the lure. Not only did Silver Lake put White Flower out of play at the first turn, he then tried to snare Bearing Gold in the latter stages but could not quite catch up.

On the same night, Zac’s Entity caused Stanley Road to fall (when appearing likely to win) in the Group 1 Topgun Stayers at The Meadows and was slapped with a marring charge.

Here’s the Topgun Stayers:

While hindsight is 20/20, a few pundits cast doubt about Zac’s Entity’s mid-race ‘intent’ when racing with Miss Ezmae in the middle stages of a comfortable win over 725m at The Meadows on October 23.

Was this a signal of Saturday’s ill intent?

And at Bendigo on Saturday morning, the following shenanigans cropped up in a clearance trial.

Rather than being slapped with an offence Just Mask (box four), Ombra (six) and, now. three-time offender Wall Street (eight) each failed to clear for a return to racing.

Yes, the GA rules have been changed and marring is now equal in impact suspension-wise but trainers must become more responsible to others when it comes to marring.

Maybe, application of the GA rules in trials would clear the decks a little more efficiently. It’s food for thought.

Fortunately, Stanley Road was not badly injured at The Meadows but it could have been so much worse.

The equalisation of the two offences in penalty is a step forward but marring is a blight which is so difficult to arrest and all concerned need to protect the innocent rather than prolong the racing life of the guilty.

THE DASH

Paul Wheeler’s funeral service at Young on November 1 was quite remarkable.

The strength son Scott showed in his eulogy was an inspiration.

All at St John’s Anglican Church later gathered with others watching from the Young Harness Club to celebrate Paul’s life were oblivious, however, to a back story at the Wheeler kennels at Murringo.

Mid-afternoon, Jan Wheeler was contacted by son Brendan when Hadeel Bale was in distress whelping a litter of six to Dyna Villa.

Hadeel Bale was quickly rushed to Young Veterinary Clinic by Nichole Wheeler who left the gathering to look after the crisis.

Vet David Woodward was prepped for surgery and, just an hour later, she was home (yes, a little groggy) and feeding her sextet.

Jan did not return to the Young Harness Club so that Hadeel Bale would have the attention she required if there were complications.

That’s dedication!

UNBEATABLE

Thursday’s heats of the group 1 Ipswich Gold Cup highlighted a night of top shelf racing with Spring Kono posting a fast 30.10 to set the standard for the night.

Just two days after winning three Cup heats Tom Tzouvelis’ Mitchell Street won his 11th race at Ipswich over 431m.

Eleven wins at any venue is a decent result but what is unique to Mitchell Street is that he’s remained unbeaten at the distance at Ipswich through his career.

Such is his high speed, boxes don’t seem to hinder the light fawn dog and Saturday’s 18th career win was in a career best 24.78.

While it’s been a big week for the Tzouvelis team, on Thursday night Mitchell Street’s dam Off And On died very suddenly.

The six year old was a family pet and her kennel name – Special – was apt.

Mitchell Street’s litter have won 96 races at $244,545, with six of the nine pups winning 10-plus races.

An autopsy revealed a ruptured aorta which, regardless of circumstance, was not survivable.

While nearing veteran status, Mitchell Street is in imperious form and heads into Thursday’s $8400 to-the-winner TAB Ipswich Sprint Final as the one to beat.