Classic Toddy Victory Highlights Top Cambridge Action

Quality greyhound action was witnessed during the huge Waikato hosted New Year meeting at the Cambridge Raceway last Thursday. Five classy feature race finals, highlighted by the running of the $21,000 Farmlands CopRice Waikato Classic at Group 2 level, was decided.

Pictured: The Farmlands CopRice Waikato Classic winner Opawa Toddy


There was tinge of emotion surrounding the podium presentation of two of those finals. Right from the start of his career Opawa Toddy has always indicated that his future racing was going to be at the elite level of racing. He carries the name of the Opawa Racing member Ron Todd, commonly referred to as Toddy, who passed away last year.


Opawa Toddy had qualified for this Group 2 final when he finished second behind the flying Metica Vella in his Christmas Eve 457m heat. The Dave and Jean Fahey trained chaser had displayed railing tendencies during his 22 race career prior to this final, therefore his prospects soared when he was allocated the one trap to be loaded into for the decider.


He came away from the 457m traps in a midfield position with the early pace being set by his kennelmate Go Vegas and the Lisa Cole prepared Big Time Seth. However, a tangle up between runners when entering the big, sweeping bend saw half of the field losing their stake claims.


Another Fahey trained finalist Archie John Hill seized on a rails racing possie and he led the field into the long, demanding home straight. He was being challenged strongly on his outer by Opawa Toddy. The race favourite Seve also improved his field position for his conditioner Dan Lane, placing himself just in behind the pace at this point.


Opawa Toffy extended stylishly during the run home, resulting in him claiming his biggest career win by a comfortable 3.5 length margin. His “moderate” 26.02s time (for this class) was more of a reflection of the first turn melee.


Archie John Hill gamely stuck to his task to provide the Fahey’s with the Group 2 quinella, while Seve pushed on late when coming up just a head behind in third, therefore making it an all Canterbury trained postrace podium. Metica Vella pressed on late for her fourth placing for Cole another 1.75 lengths astern.


Opawa Toddy is a member of the November 2017 whelped litter between Fernando Bale and Opawa Jay Jay, which was bred by and mostly raced by Opawa Racing’s Robin Wales and Graham Campbell. He has now been to the races on 22 occasions, winning ten of those outings, plus being placed in another nine races. He is set to quickly add to the $36,416 in stakes he has so far accumulated, which excludes Breeders’ bonus dollars which also involves the Breeders payment he secured in this event by being the first New Zealand bred greyhound to finish in the Group 2 final (all three placegetters were NZ bred greyhounds).



Opawa Toddy following his Farmlands CopRice Waikato Classic victory with his handler Mark Lin, along with his second-placed kennelmate Archie John Hill with his co-trainer Dave Fahey, plus representatives from the sponsoring Farmlands company; the third-placed Seve; the impressive array of Waikato feature race trophies and dress rugs that were won during the evening


Farmlands Virkon Waikato Cup


It sure was a humdinger of a race finish to the $10,500 Farmlands Virkon Waikato Cup which was duelled out between a pair of Opawa prefixed named greyhounds.


When the 457m traps lifted it was a pair of Lisa Cole trained contenders Bigtime Shadow and Bigtime Brody who showed up during the early rush. Sitting handy to them on that early pace was the Sean Codlin trained Opawa Viking. Opawa Light was in the midfield, holding the rail after jumping from the one trap for his trainer Emma Potts.


The leading pair stayed out in the middle of the track when rounding the turn, which presented Opawa Viking with a clear inside racing passage. Chasing him through at the point was Opawa Light and it was this pair who engaged in a tightly contested paw wrestle up the long, demanding Cambridge home straight.


Opawa Viking held a slight edge, however, Opawa Light boldly push up along his inner and he ultimately put in the telling late-bound to snatch his biggest career win by a short half head margin, clocking 25.75s. It was a big effort by him as he was giving away a slice of class to his rivals as he was C3 graded when going into this event.


Opawa Viking, who was a deserved prior 25.54s heat winner, was real gallant when finishing as the runner up, while Bigtime Brody was solid when finishing third another length behind and three-quarters of a length in advance of the strong finishing Karen Walsh prepared Cambridge 457m track record holder Thrilling Amigo.


As commentator Peter Earley said, “Our young trainers fight this feature out”, which is a great sign for future racing in the north with Potts claiming her biggest race victory narrowly over the Codlin prepared charge.     


Opawa Light is raced in the north by the long-time Canterbury industry participant Darryl McLachlan with this feature win being his seventh race win. He has placed in another six races, while his 18 race day outings have yielded him with $18,810 in stake earnings.



Farmlands Virkon Waikato Cup winner Opawa Light with his trainer Emma Potts, while Farmlands representative Craig Symes is holding the Waikato Cup; runner up Opawa Viking and the third-placed Bigtime Brody


Thrilling Brat Distance


Karen Walsh mentored the New Zealand Hall of Fame inducted stayer Thrilling Brat throughout his outstanding career for his owner Gary Harding and it looks like she has another potential top-line stayer in the Tirau based kennels judging by the strong manner that Thrilling Nina claimed her win in the $7,500 Thrilling Brat Distance over the 650m journey.


It was the Angela Turnwald prepared Opawa June who led the field into the first turn with Thrilling Nina ominously stalking her along the rail. Racing down the back straight Thrilling Nina railed underneath the pacemaker from where she strode clear to land her impressive 37.59s win by a comfortable 5.25 length margin. It was her second staying win in only her third attempt over the longer journeys and interest now centres on how she’ll handle the extreme race distances – she gives every indication that she’ll thrive in doing so when she is stepped up further in race distances.


Student Loan has also been recently introduced to staying races by his conditioners Dave and Jean Fahey and he has also displayed staying potential as seen when he finished stoutly for his Thursday second placing.


This race can be described as the possible changing of the guard within the staying ranks as the third-placed Little Teegs is also a recent new addition to the longer distance pool of stayers. She was bold when sighted pressing on soundly another 6.25 lengths back for her local conditioner Arch Lawrence, who certainly knows a thing or three about preparing the staying canine athletes.


Thrilling Nina has only visited a race track on 15 occasions, winning seven of those. She has placed in four times and her current $16,320 stakes haul is set to rapidly expand based on her solid current form.



Handler Sophie Whittaker is holding the Thrilling Brat Distance trophy won by Thrilling Nina; second-placed Student Loan and the placed Little Teegs


Denis Cole Memorial Sprint


Denis Cole had a long-time association with the Waikato GRC and he is remembered annually in the 6,000 open class 375m sprint held in his memory. Brendon Cole is Denis’s brother and the kennel made a serious assault on the sprint as seen by Lisa Cole providing both heat winners.


The dual Group 1 winning chaser Trojan Hoarse had skipped through his heat task in a smart 20.98s from the one trap – he was allocated the same trap for the decider. He pinged away from the traps and went bang – the feature sprint was all over as a contest in a flash as last year’s New Zealand Debry winner at this venue exploded clear to deliver his electric 20.75s win by an easy 5.5 length margin.


The Karen Walsh trained Thrilling Peta was gallant when she chased home the freewheeling pacemaker for her second placing, while Captain Kev kicked on resolutely for his mentors Wayne and Tracey Steele another length behind in third.


The 2018/19 NZ Greyhound of the Year finalist Trojan Hoarse has really thrived since he has been reverted back to short course sprinting with this 375m feature sprint victory being his sixth straight sprint win. He has now won 27 races of his 81 career races and after adding in a further 29 minor placings sees his career stake earning advancing to a healthy $136,638 for his owner Craig Rendle.



The Denis Cole Memorial Sprint winner Trojan Hoarse; Denis Cole’s daughter Jess presents the trophy named in her father’s memory to her niece Ella Cole; Ella and Jess Cole with the Denis Cole Memorial winner Trojan Hoarse


Mighty Waikato Maiden Series Final


The traditional New Year rich $6,000 Mighty Waikato Maiden Series final has been a launching pad to the bigger and brighter racing opportunities for numerous greyhounds over the years. A graphic example of that was the audacious last to first win that Thrilling Brat helped himself to in the 2011 edition for the Karen Walsh and Gary Harding combination.


This hugely successful racing partnership was involved in the last two winners of this feature event and on this occasion, they had qualified two finalists which included the hot $1.50 favourite thrilling Rosa who won her 457m heat in a slick 25.33s. She was impeded when exiting from trap two and it was her kennelmate Thrilling Baxter who stylishly came away from the three the trap to set the early pace.


He was never seriously challenged afterwards, scampering to his convincing five-length win, clocking a handy 25.75s. The Dan Lane prepared Pebble Beach also overcame some early jostling to finish solidly for the second prize while Thrilling Rosa recovered to also finish boldly for her third pacing another 1.75 lengths behind.



The Mighty Waikato Maiden Series Final Winner Thrilling Baxter with handler Jenny Bartlett, Ollie Lawrence, who has been associated with the Waikato Maiden final for numerous years and the trainer of both of them Karen Walsh with the third-placed Thrilling Rosa


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 06 January 2020

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