Opawa Superstar shines in final Group race of the season

Opawa Superstar finished the season on top of the dais after taking out the Group 2 Colin Keen Memorial. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

It was a big day of racing for the Otago Greyhound Racing Club on Sunday, and the aptly named Opawa Superstar wrapped up a hugely successful season for him when he nailed victory in the Group 2 $20,000 Colin Keen Memorial held at Ascot Park.

Prepared by the perennial Group race-winning trainers Dave and Jean Fahey, Opawa Superstar lobbed onto the early pace from where he maintained his solid 457m gallop to secure his 25.77 win to wrap up the 2021/22 racing season on the world’s most southern located greyhound track.

He withstood the powerful rails finish delivered by his brave kennelmate Opawa Wayne by a shrinking half-length margin, while also charging home late to finish a head behind was Melville Bale for Craig Roberts.

The Roberts-prepared race favourite Talbingo Bale found himself tangled up in early traffic, which effectively ended his prospects in what was a high quality field, befitting of the event that acknowledged the long administration service that Colin Keen provided at Otago, South Island and national levels.

“Yeah, that was a good tough win by him. I was pretty happy when Opawa Superstar was in front – he’s a really brave dog who will push through gaps to get into race leads.

“But he’s still not back at a 100 percent level – he only just held out Opawa Wayne, who got smacked up early. That was a huge rails run by him,” summed up Dave Fahey, who along with Jean enjoyed another outstanding training season.

He confirmed that both greyhounds will contest the New Zealand 520m heat for the Australian Nationals, which will be held at Addington on 11 August.

Opawa Superstar commenced his racing career exactly a year ago, charging through the grades so rapidly that just three-months later, he started as the race favourite in the $100,000 New Zealand Cup, where he finished a gallant third.

He maintained his solid form which in March saw him effortlessly striding to victory in the Auckland Cup – and ironically, it was Opawa Wayne who finished as the runner-up in the $80,000 Group 1 527m event.

Opawa Superstar will start the new racing season as the winner of $172,227, the result of 23 wins and 11 minor placings from his 35 races last season. One can only say that the Allan Davidson and Opawa Racing Limited-owned son of Fernando Bale and Opawa Tab will further extend his imposing race record.

Sadiki Bale was too good in the Mark Thompson Memorial Dunedin Cup. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Craig Roberts received a degree of compensation when his sharp sprinter Sadiki Bale prevailed in the feature $10,000 Mark Thompson Memorial Dunedin Cup sprint over the 390m dash.

Sadiki Bale made full of use of her kind trap-one draw, dictating the pace throughout to land her 5.75 length win in 22.22.

Otago trainer John Guthrie produced Aramoana to slip around the outer to easily secure second, while Victoria Lu kicked on stoutly for her trainer Tony Hart to claim third.

The $6,000 feature Otago GRC Distance event saw just five contenders being paraded to the 630m traps; however, it turned into a ripper of a paw wrestle.

The event resulted in a Dave and Jean Fahey-trained quinella, when the promising stayer Opawa Anita justified her strong support ($1.50) when she gunned down her bold pace-making kennelmate Centurion within sight of the finishing line. She ultimately prevailed by a three-quarter length margin, completing her task in 37.14.

Raja Bale was always within touch after being held out wide throughout the journey, kicking on stoutly to finish just a neck further behind for Craig Roberts, while his son Matt produced Nighthawk Style to finish a further length back in fourth.

Sunday’s racing action was a fitting conclusion to the 2021/22 racing season for the greyhound code, which also included the normal Auckland meeting.

The feature Manukau event saw the superstar stayer Swift Fantasy being acknowledged. Lady (kennel-name) had recently peacefully passed on, aged 15 years.

The 527m Swift Fantasy Stakes event was strongly taken out by the Glennis Farrell-prepared Opawa Albert, who led throughout in 30.56.     

The race presentation was undertaken by father and son Steve and Sean Codlin, who between them had looked after Swift Fantasy after her trainer Steve Clark passed away. The Codlins had Thrilling Watson engaged in the race and he finished a bold 2.75 length second for them.


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 02 August 2022

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