The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

THIS week's Sunday Finish On is led by the Richmond Race Club's decision to cancel the Richmond Riches Auction due to lack of numbers.

Peter Davis

22 November 2020

RICHMOND STANDS BY BREEDERS

In the midst of the COVID-19 issues, Richmond took a courageous decision to proceed with the proposed November 29 Ladbrokes Richmond Riches Auction.

Regrettably, the uptake from breeders was not up the metrics of previous years but that did not deter Richmond.

The club called many breeders to promote and advance numbers yet just over 53 lots were catalogued and another 40 direct entries (payment) were at hand.

“What we did not expect was that more than 15 pups were withdrawn for by their nominees after the catalogue was finalised and with the printer,” Richmond Chief Executive Richard Griffiths said.

“The day was proposed to be a gala event but with so few pups up for grabs, we consulted with GRNSW and concluded it was not viable (financially) to proceed.

“We are firm in our support of breeders we needed this to be a successful for all – vendors and prospective purchasers alike.

“Greyhound racing needs events like the Ladbrokes Richmond Riches to promote an entry point for new participants and provide breeders will an opportunity to sell.”

Richmond will press on with the race series connected (slated for May 2022) and is prepared to extend nominations for the series to the end of November.

There are just on 60 dogs nominated for proposed race – a minimum $40,000 to-the-winner series which represents an excellent return on investment opportunity.

The Richmond Riches takes on a mini version of Sandown’s Launching Pad which has an entry fee of $2000 – with $150,000 going to the winner from a prize pool totaling $420,000.

FERGIE CHALKS UP 2000 WINS

Trotter Milliondollarmonkey’s name won’t take a position in New Zealand harness racing’s Hall of Fame yet the seven year-old’s all-the-way win (on grass) at Oamaru on Saturday provided Peter Ferguson with 2000 lifetime wins as a driver.

“Fergie”, as he’s affectionately know to all, drove his first winner at his first drive (at Cambridge for his dad on March 1986 on a horse called Sobriety) and is one of only eight NZ reinsmen to have reached 2000 wins.

“The grey gelding which won at Oamaru was heavily backed ($8 into $3.50) and he did it comfortably but he has history of waywardness and that’s why connections gave an old hand like me the drive,” Ferguson laughed.

While the family is immersed in harness racing, for more than 20 years Ferguson has dabbled with greyhounds and, in the past four years, the Ferguson team has achieved remarkable success with collar and lead.

“I’ve got to say Greg Hore was the catalyst for the family being hand’s on with the dogs,” he added.

“Greg moved in with Wendy and I for a couple of years and, in that time, he built our kennels and did a lot of fencing at the property.

“The first few dogs we got from Australia had good success here and Greg’s advice and hands on experience showed us the way.

“Most of the dogs we’ve had have been syndicated and it’s introduced new people to the game … it’s a lot of run for us and it makes it a real family-like experience.”

While Ferguson trained and driven his class standardbreds, he’s found success at the elite level with the hounds.

“Robson took us to places we never thought we’d get to,” he added.

“He won a Group 1 Waterloo Cup and the Golden Chase at Manawatu …  wherever he went, he was competitive and won just on NZ$105,000.

“Silenci won a Group 1 Auckland Cup with Robson third in the same race.”

Wendy and Pete no longer train their own pacers but his driving career is ongoing and training greyhounds is their focus.

More expat Aussies head the Ferguson kennels this week and his keen eye on value for money ensures a solid return on investment for syndicate members.

The Fergusons might not have the numbers of the Kiwi mega kennels but their winner-to-runner strike rate is super impressive.

NIGHT OF NIGHTS

While the Melbourne Cup and Bold Trease stand tall as the principal features at Sandown on Friday, the night is jam packed with quality racing.

Aside from the two Group 1’s, two Group 3’s and the Listed Cup Night Stayers (715m) will add spice to a tasty night’s racing.

COVID-19 attendance restrictions have hindered all sports and, at this point, Sandown have not been advised on how many can venture to the track on Friday.

Should the status quo remain, only trainers, catchers and essential staff were at Lightwood Road – it would be a nice turn for the better if this night of nights can be turning point for track attendance in late 2020.

While not presuming an open gate, the heat will come out of any debate should the Andrews Govt relax the in-place restrictions.

On Thursday, GRV announced “Victorian Greyhound Racing clubs will allow 30 registered owners per race meeting to attend to view their greyhound/s racing.”

Owners will be required to register their intention to attend the club to watch their dogs racing 24 hours prior to the race meeting.

Sorting out the most deserving 30 attendees will provide more debate than a grading issue!

LOOKING AHEAD

Windy conditions made ‘running time’ tough, yet genuine talent emerged from Sandown’s Vic Bred Maiden series on November 15.

The series decider is on Melbourne Cup night and, on Sunday, Jeff Britton’s Mepunga Reject posted slick sections in his 29.41s semi final win over the promising Shima Jake to qualify quickest for the $15,000 to-the-winner event.

Earlier, She’s So Kind won the opening semi in a slow 29.86s from outsider Westar Mansion and the luckless Major Sacrifice.

The maidens certainly show genuine promise but the more experienced and precocious Hadouken (29.39s), speedster McCooley’s Lad (29.13s), Brother Bearing (29.67s) and Sweet Petit (29.41) won heats of the Vicgreys Series for greyhounds with up to four wins.

The Melbourne Cup field just oozes class yet this restricted win series decider – with McCooley’s Lad the likely popular elect – represents a clear view to future group 1 contenders.

THE RIGHT NUMBERS

The Greyhound Welfare Integrity Commission caused brows to furrow with registered persons (in NSW) asked to confirm their ongoing registration earlier this month.

While the message was confused, the outcome has been very positive and GWIC now had a defence point (of registered greyhounds as well as participants) which was not advocated at any time in the darkness of 2015 and 2106.

The Commission’s Interim CEO, Steve Griffin, has thanked the industry for its cooperation and assistance with completing the audit.

“This has been a significant undertaking by the Commission, and we are extremely grateful to the many industry participants who were responsive to our requests for information throughout this important project,” Griffin said.

“This audit is critical to the Commission’s commitment to the lifecycle tracking of registered greyhounds.”

“This is not something that has been required of the industry previously, so this reconciliation and audit of the greyhound register was critical in developing an accurate record of NSW greyhounds which the Commission will use to enhance lifecycle tracking of all registered greyhounds in NSW.”

It has been determined that the total number of registered greyhounds in NSW is 20,168 which includes whelped but yet to be named pups, pre-racing adolescents, racing greyhounds, breeding greyhounds and retired greyhounds which remain in the custody of industry participants.

Getting to the finish line will have been has been worth the effort.

The industry now has the clear air to defend itself against biased and baseless accusations about registered numbers.

GRSA ON THE JOB

Full marks to the team at GRSA for their urgency in getting greyhound racing back on track after the bizarre circumstances state wide COVID-19 lockdown enforced on November 18.

Meetings at Angle Park and Mount Gambier (Thursday), Murray Bridge (Friday) and Gawler (Sunday) were immediately impacted.

Fortunately, swift action by GRSA, following the Govt reversal of the lockdown, on Friday say a full 12-race card drawn for Angle Park on Monday.

More than 150 nominations were received for the Monday meeting at Angle Park and a full 12-race card will be decided.

The Authority then reopened nominations for Murray Bridge on Tuesday and trainers railed to get a start. Exceptional numbers allowed for the Murray Bridge meeting to draw 11 races.

Approval for the return to racing came after the fields were, in fact, drawn and participants should understand that GRSA’s swift action was presumptive yet proactive and proved to be on the money.

Brickbats can arrive quickly but GRSA certainly deserve kudos this time.