‘Thrilling’ 24 Hours for the Tirau team

‘Thrilling’ 24 Hours for the Tirau team


It was a huge 24 hour period for Tirau based conditioner Karen Walsh, along with breeders and owners Gary and Linda Harding. On Friday evening the hugely successful racing operation savoured more Group 1 success with Thrilling Talk who secured his deserved elite title when winning the $30,000 New Zealand Futurity title. The previous day they watched their greyhound Thrilling Amigo shatter the Cambridge 457m track record.


Pictured: Thrilling Talk following his NZ Futurity victory.


The “Thrilling” prefixed kennel has enjoy considerable success over many years. A strong breeding program ensures a steady flow of quality greyhounds are bred by the Harding’s, then reared and conditioned by the nation’s leading strike rate trainer Karen Walsh. There has been the occasional Australian bred greyhounds who has stylishly supplemented the ongoing success.


Thrilling Talk is just one of those high class greyhounds who took his first steps in Tirau. He identified himself as a very talented chaser right from the commencement of his racing career. He was potent when he won his race debut at Cambridge when he cruised to his effortless Maiden 457m win by a comfortable nine length margin, clocking a tidy 25.77s.


This son of Fabregas and Thrilling Ella then won his next ten straight races and in doing so he attained his open class racing status. His biggest career win came early in the New Year where he easily accounted for his rivals when landing his Group 2 victory in the $21,000 Waikato Classic over 457m at the Cambridge Raceway.


On Friday evening Walsh loaded her charge Thrilling Talk away into the 520m three trap from where the $2.20 favourite came away from nicely to attend the early pace. The second favourite Bigtime Rod pushed up along the rail to place himself handy to the early pace.


Thrilling Talk slipped clear when entering the back straight and that tactic proved to be the winning move as, although Bigtime Rod came at him strongly late, Thrilling Talk held by a three quarter length margin over Rod, stopping the clock in 30.15s.


There was an 8.75 length margin back to the third placed Diddilee who charged home late after being tangled up in early traffic. The only Australian bred finalist returned to the podium for the fourth occasion at Group 1 level this season for his conditioner Angela Turnwald.     




Trainer Karen Walsh with Thrilling Talk following his NZ Futurity victory; Bigtime Rod following his NZ Futurity second placing; Diddilee after his third place NZ Futurity finish


“Talk showed what he’s capable of delivering in the Futurity. I was quietly confident that he would hold on when he jumped into the race lead. He didn’t muck around, using catch me if you can tactics. He has been a very consistent greyhound who thoroughly deserved his Group 1 win.


“Gary and Linda (Harding) were over the moon with Talk’s win. They get a great thrill watching the greyhounds they have bred racing, then more especially so at the top level. They have been and are very committed to their greyhounds.


“Thrilling Talk is a complete professional greyhound who will now be aimed towards the NZ Breeders’ (Hatrick, heats June 7) – I’m not sure at this stage if he’ll race in the North Island Challenge Stakes (Manawatu, May 19),” advised Walsh.


Thrilling Talk has been to the races on just 25 occasions. He has returned as the winner of 19 of them, therefore maintain a high winning strike rate just like his trainer does. He has another five minor placings and his current stakes tally now sits at just on $75,000 excluding breeder bonus payments like the extra $1,000 he picked up here for the Harding’s by being the first of the seven Kiwi bred finishers in this Group 1 event.


For Walsh this was her third NZ Futurity training success after she mentored Thrilling Ransom (2011) and Thrilling Moe (2007) to victory in those editions, while for the Harding’s it was their fourth NZ Futurity win with Bill Hodgson training Thrilling Sam to win the 2004 edition.


Like Mother, Like Son – Track Record Holders


It simply was low flying racing at the Cambridge Raceway last Thursday afternoon. Some very quick sub 21 second 375m times posted earlier on the race card suggested that the open class greyhounds would run a fast 457m in their race 11 event. No one could have envisioned what was going to unfold later on.


As expected it was the Peter Ferguson prepared Keysile who led out and she delivered a swift first sectional which she completed in 5.75s. Quickly pushing forward from his eight trap draw was Thrilling Amigo, while his kennelmate Thrilling Vice was quickly improving his field position after exiting from the five trap.


Thrilling Amigo railed underneath Keysile when rounding the big, sweeping Cambridge turn and he slipped clear to deliver his effortless win by the comfortable 7.75 length margin which he held over kennelmate Thrilling Vice. As commentator Peter Earley summed up immediately with “Thrilling Amigo was steaming along in front.”


He, like everyone else, was then stunned when Thrilling Amigo’s 457m time was revealed on the board at a slick 24.96s. Earley said, “What’s the time they’ve put up there – can that be right – 24.96s. That’s a track record….wow.”


It was the first occasion that the 25 second barrier for the 457m Cambridge distance had been broken. Ironically it was a former kennelmate to Thrilling Amigo who held the previous track best 457m time with Sergio, who in March 2011 clocked 25.07s. Thrilling Amigo joined his mum Thrilling Quest as a current track record holder


“Amigo’s time was insane – it’s a ridiculously fast time. I’m immensely proud - it’s very pleasing to see track records with greyhounds that you’ve reared and trained like Amigo has just done,” commented trainer Karen Walsh about the Gary and Linda Harding own and bred son of Fabregas and Thrilling Quest.  


Walsh then hinted that a potential staying career looms for Thrilling Amigo. “I’ll consider racing him in the North Island Challenge Stakes and the NZ Breeders’. His future is likely to be in staying races,” she suggested, adding tongue in cheek, “Gary was a bit miffed, although proud, that Amigo took Sergio’s track record. The outstanding greyhound of his era (Sergio was named as the 2011 NZ Greyhound of the Year) was trained by Gary Harding.


It’s an exciting prospect for the staying ranks if Thrilling Amigo is ultimately aimed towards the longer journeys. His mum Thrilling Quest was an outstanding stayer during a race career that yielded the Walsh and Harding combination a career stakes tally of $100,628. Thrilling Quest is also a current track record holder with her June 2011 Manukau 779m 46.08s time still being the best time clocked over the extreme Manukau distance. 




The pic that commentator Peter Earley posted on twitter revealing the new Cambridge 457m 24.96s track record set by Thrilling Amigo; the new Cambridge 457m track record holder Thrilling Amigo following an earlier career win; mum Thrilling Quest whose son Thrilling Amigo is the new Cambridge 457m track record holder pictured here with trainer Karen Walsh following her stunning June 2011 46.08s Manukau 779m track record gallop.        


By Peter Fenemor


Posted on 14/05/2019 10:25:02 AM

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