Charlotte Lu and Know Keeper dominant in Southland features

Charlotte Lu was too good in the Group 2 Far South Challenge Final. She’s pictured with handler Dylan Voyce, Rock On John was second (pictured with Mark Lin) and It’s A Blaze finished third (pictured with Katie Wyllie). Photo credit: Dave Robbie.


The Southland Greyhound Racing Club took centre stage on Monday when they held their feature race meeting at Ascot Park.

The quality of racing throughout the day was exceptional, and in the Group 2 Far South Challenge Final, Charlotte Lu’s victory provided trainer Tony Hart with his first Group race winner.

“We’re absolutely rapt, we’re over the moon,” said Hart. “We’d had a few placings before in Group races, but it was absolutely awesome to get our first Group win.”

Charlotte Lu’s littermate, Victoria Lu, was the favourite in the event, but Charlotte Lu (who paid $9.80 tote close) exploded away from Box 7 and from there, nothing could run her down. Rock On John finished three lengths behind her, with a short margin back to It’s A Blaze in third.

“As soon as she hit the front, I thought it’s game over here! I thought her sister was a bit unlucky too, to be honest. If she’d got a go at them, she probably could have run second.”

Hart says that Charlotte Lu will now line up in the restricted age race at Addington next Thursday (Race 7).

“We want to see if she’s going to get the 520m and if she does, she’ll be going in the Group 1 New Zealand Breeders Stakes heats there on the 13th, and then hopefully the final – fingers crossed! Basically all of our others that raced at Ascot Park will be going in the Harding Cup heats.”

Know Keeper, pictured with trainer Garry Cleeve, was outstanding in Monday’s Group 2 Galway Cup Final at Ascot Park. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.


Earlier in the programme, rising staying star Know Keeper prevailed in the Group 2 Galway Cup Final for trainer Garry Cleeve.

The son of Know Class and Know Jinx justified his short-priced favouritism, winning the 732m marathon by just under three lengths. He settled just behind the early pace off Box 1, and unleashed his powerful finishing burst to score, beating home Claws In Leo and Ellias Bale.

“I have to admit, there was a bit of pressure on me at Southland the other day!” said Cleeve.

“I’ve been in the game long enough that you take most races in your stride. But there was definitely a bit of emotion behind the boxes and then again during the race when he didn’t lead.

“It was really nice to get the win – and it sort of opens up a few more avenues for him now that he’s done the 700m trip, as that was a bit of the unknown a few weeks ago.

“His next test will probably be the 732m at Addington. And in a few months, we’ll hopefully look at Australia.”

Know Keeper, who broke the 660m track record at Manawatu earlier this month, has now won 19 from 47 races and is unbeaten in his four attempts over staying trips so far.

“We’ve probably got a good two or three months racing here before we have to make any serious decisions. But he could be one of those dogs that’s life-changing.”

By Liz Whelan

Posted on 24 December 2021

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