The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

ON arrival in New Zealand, Peter Ferguson had a blank canvas to work with when it comes to his now New Zealand Derby winner Pedro Lee.

Peter Davis

18 April 2021

ON arrival in New Zealand, Peter Ferguson had a blank canvas to work with when it comes to New Zealand Derby winner Pedro Lee.

A son of former high class Kiwi short courser One Cold Foot, Pedro Lee had shown owner Greg Hore great potential but the black dog, seemingly, was a little too cunning to exert himself when the pursuit of the lure in NSW went unrewarded.

“He ran 17.07 seconds in his first trial at Dapto for me,” the Goulburn-based owner-trainer said.

“But he then went back and ran about 10 lengths slower and, at other tracks, the same thing would happen. There was nothing physically amiss, the problem was keeping him focused.”

Before heading across the ditch, Hore travelled to Wentworth Park three times with Pedro Lee and the results were not pretty.

“He solo trialled there on November 7 and the effort was embarrassing!” he added.

“I handled him and a friend took a pic of the semaphore … there was no timing malfunction, he ran 32.61s which I dare say might be the slowest every trial at Wenty over 520m.”

Timely: Pedro Lee ambled around Wentworth Park  on November 7. Pic supplied.

A distant last and two sevenths at Wentworth Park followed before the son of Aston Dee Bee headed to the Shaky Isles.

In 10 starts for Ferguson, Pedro Lee has posted six wins with the NZ$45,000 Derby a career high yet it was not success in the Derby that vindicated the decision to export the sprinter.

Hore added: “It all about the ‘reward’ after the chase which has been so good for many ex pat Australian dogs.”

“It’s been a formula for success for years and I’m surprised and a little disappointed that more finish on racing is not available here. We really should not need to export Pedro Lee-quality dogs to New Zealand to get the best out of them [on the track].”

MISSION: ACCOMLISHED

Gritty is an adjective which applies to Perth Cup winner Tiggerlong Tonk and, now, Galaxy race record holder Zack Monelli.

Tiggerlong Tonk has been a perennial big race finalist and success in the Perth Cup is a reward for determination and durability.

In the case of Zack Monelli, he ticks just about every box.

Before the black dog had his first start, he’s said to have broken the 405m record at Mandurah and still holds the 490m record there (at 27.02 secs).

After last month’s rain incident forced trainer Dave Hobby to abandon Zack Monelli’s Golden Easter Egg campaign, it was a 50/50 call to step up in trip for the Galaxy or stay at 520m for the richer Perth Cup, a race he finished second in last year.

Just three weeks after the eastern sojourn, Zack Monelli has banked a remarkable $114,670 plus $31,000 in West Cha$e Breeder’s bonuses for connections.

The WestCha$e program is a boon to breeders but the WA prizemoney split also extends beyond the placings. Unplaced finalists in the Perth Cup received $2250 and while those missing a podium finish in the Galaxy got $1500.

What lies ahead for the two Group 1 winners is interesting.

April 29 heats of the Warrnambool Cup loom for Tiggerlong Tonk yet more options are on the table for Hobby.

Does Zack Monelli head east again? The next feature race series for stayers is the Wentworth Park Gold Cup (May 1) yet the Lizrene at Sandown (May 2) might be more appealing.

A start in the Lizrene, however, is contingent on being one of the eight fastest dogs to have raced at Sandown this year (over 715m) and the only experience Zack Monelli has had in that region is at the Sandown Veterinary Clinic where semen was drawn for his upcoming stud career.

Will Dave Hobby make a dual purpose hit-and-run east with his seasoned traveller?

Surely a trip back to Lightwood Road is tempting. All owners and trainers dream of a fast dog which, regardless of circumstance, chases his/her heart out and that’s Zack Monelli.

He has a five month-old litter on the ground (ex Freida Monelli, a litter sister to Hobby’s Perth Cup winner Trouper Monelli) and breeders will surely be drawn to the hugely talented and versatile son of Barcia Bale.

His mum (Penny Monelli) was pretty special too. She was retired after hock injury at Cannington, sustained only seven days after winning the Listed Ultra Sense at Wentworth Park in 2017.

A broken hock failed to hinder Zack Monelli’s elevation to Group 1 winner status and his all-distance capacity, while not unique, is engaging.

IT’S TIME

The Wow case has further heightened concern about the relevance, effectiveness and cost to industry of Greyhounds Australasia.

It seems as though the veterinary advisors to GA are firm in a stance of resisting any notion of introducing threshold levels for permanently banned substances.

The incidence of positive swabs to permanently banned substances is very, very low yet more needs to be done to protect the likes of Karina Britton.

The 0.00000000002 grams per ml positive sample returned by Wow should not be considered reportable by Racing Analytics Services.

Such a directive is up to individual states and any decision to include a non-reporting baseline would defy GA rules.

This representative body, once infamously keen to foster relations with American anti racing activists Grey2K, has passed its use by date.

National rules are often cast aside without murmur and participants continue to be gouged in order for the business to make ends meet.

A few years back, a St Kilda genetics firm was contacted re DNA costs and the principal offered to DNA an entire litter for $100.

Breeders are now paying $180 for a single-dog DNA kit! A transfer of a frozen breeding unit is $50 and registration of the use of a breeding unit is $65. The breeder just pays and pays and pays.

And on the score of advocacy, GA fails miserably.

Was there a whiff of support for NSW when the Baird Govt legislated a state ban in 2016?

The McHugh Special Commission’s unsustainable assertions re ‘wastage’ stay on the record but has GA done anything to correct the record?

It was February 2020 when GA CEO Cherie Nicholl told the Sydney Morning Herald that: “GA is still in the process of scoping a consistent national data framework” to provide figures for greyhound breeding and euthanasia.

“The jurisdictions across the country are absolutely committed to the welfare of the greyhounds and their post-racing life is of the utmost importance. As is, the lives of those dogs that do not make it to the track.”

That’s just claptrap and gobbledygook!

Time has come for a new direction. Greyhounds Australasia is a failed entity. Greyhound racing’s rank-and-file – the true believers – deserve much better.

STRAIGHT AHEAD

The first meeting scheduled for the impressive Richmond straight track on April 24 is certain to attract huge nominations.

Not since 2014 has NSW had a straight track operating (for race meetings) and the success of Capalaba, Healesville and Murray Bridge as TAB entities made Richmond a must-do project.

Some hurdles had to be overcome with council for Richmond’s development but GRNSW correctly chose a path of least objection and the benefit to industry is neigh.

Room to move: Richmond’s forecourt to the circle track comes alive on April 24 with the club’s first straight track meeting for decades. Pic Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news is that Goulburn Council, on April 6, voted to support the development of a straight track at the facility and, while it does require development consent, the council has acknowledged the positive financial impact greyhound racing provides to the city.

The entire recreation facility at Goulburn – which includes the trotting track and dog track – is to be refurbished and lighting will allow night racing at the new Goulburn dog track.

An interesting development to the site’s racing potential is that lighting for the trotting track will be in effect for half of the straight track and, at minimal cost, the country’s first every night racing on a straight track is possible.

Funding is required for such expansion but it would be a massive plus for the town and provide further agility to greyhound racing’s TAB schedule.

Tamworth, Tweeds Heads and the proposed track at Purga, near Ipswich, each must jump through council hoops. If any council in those precincts can be as can-do as Goulburn’s crew, development planning would be a breeze.