Group racing returns to Ascot Park on Tuesday

Goldstar Koda was the fastest heat winner for the Group 2 Far South Challenge. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Group 2 racing returns to the world’s southern-most located greyhound track, with the Southland Greyhound Racing Club hosting their annual premier meeting at Ascot Park on Tuesday afternoon.

The three 457m heats for the $20,000 Far South Challenge held last month decided the final field comprising all New Zealand bred greyhounds, with Riley Evans presenting Goldstar Koda to record the quickest 25.87 heat time.

The Galaxy Sprint finalist displayed his versatility when leading his heat rivals throughout, and replicating those tactics can see him winning his 10th race in what will be just his 20th raceday outing for the Goldstar Racing team.

Malcolm Grant brought his charge Diamond Neena south to claim his heat win in 25.95, adding to the respectable record that he is building around this circuit. He then returned to Addington late last month, where using similar handy-to-the-pace racing tactics, he proved to be too strong, winning his 520m event in 30.55.

Jason Dunn has his team ticking over really sweetly at the moment. Included is his 26.04 heat winner Opawa Jackson, who took control of his heat on the big, sweeping bend here. He has been active over 520m at Addington since then, as seen when finishing a two-length third to Diamond Neena, followed by his bold pace-making 30.42 C5 520m win last Thursday.   

Calculated Risk has been a competitive chaser for a long time for his conditioner Ashley Bradshaw.  Strength is the biggest asset that the 2022 Manukau 527m Group 2 winner owns and it will be interesting to see where he positions himself from trap-eight, which is the only trap that he hasn’t won from during his 84-race career.

He kicked on solidly when winding up two-lengths astern of Opawa Jackson in his heat. Bradshaw has since kept him up to the mark as seen by his 2 January 17.40 Addington 295m trial.

Dave and Jean Fahey will be looking to kickstart the New Year by mentoring their 123rd career black-type winner with the trap-one drawn Opawa Kyle. He hopped away from the same trap where he gamely chased after the pace-setting Goldstar Koda, finishing a half-length second to him. He owns the field best 25.65 457m best time at this venue.

The Faheys also have the second reserve Mega Party for this final who clocked the quickest heat fourth placing in the heat won by Diamond Neena. Since then, he has contested a pair of Addington C4 520m races, finishing third and fifth.  

Oamaru trainer John Allen mentored the consistent Ascot Park chaser Pepper Chimes to victory in the 2020 edition of this race. On this occasion, he is returning with his charge Idyll Bliss for this final. He made a moderate start in his heat from where he finished resolutely for his 2.5 length heat third behind Diamond Neena. He will be sighted wearing the blue racing vest here.

Allen also provides the first reserve with Whimsical Boy, who pressed on stoutly for his 2.2 length heat fourth to Goldstar Koda. It was a bold effort by this C3 graded chaser to make it this far.

Carlos Jewel has been a consistent chaser for his trainer Craig Roberts. The veteran of 102 races finished up 2.1 lengths behind Opawa Jackson when finishing third in his heat. He has also been sighted racing at Addington since when delivering his 645m fourth, then finishing in the midfield in a C5 520m event.

Matt Roberts is returning with Silky Adobe who booked his place in this decider via his 1.75 length heat third behind Goldstar Koda. He then went onto to run a 5.25 length fourth in a C5 Addington 520m event on Thursday in the race won by Opawa Jackson.    


Galway Cup Final

Pictured: Grande Vue Ace is seeking another Group race win on Tuesday.

It is exciting times ahead within the canine staying ranks nationwide, as seen by the recent fascinating North Island staying events.

It is now the turn of the South Island trained stayers to display their talents in Tuesday’s running of the $20,000 Galway Cup at Group 2 level over 732m at Ascot Park.

The potent Group race winning trainers Dave and Jean Fahey are lining a pair of quality stayers in this event. Opawa Gina warmed up for this assignment when delivering her stylish, pace-making Addington 38.50 Thursday 645m win.  

She sure is adding to the current competitive pool of stayers and the early pace that this 779m 2023 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar finalist (second in heat) owns can dictate the outcome of this event for a long way.

Kennelmate Spread The Load has quickly created an impression since she crossed the Tasman. She ran away and hid from her rivals when making her NZ debut outing, as seen by her thumping 13-length Addington C1 30.19 520m win.

Next up was her Addington 645m task, where she was sighted making up solid ground when finishing a 2.75 length second to Opawa Gina last week.

She was stepped up to 720m racing at Wentworth Park in just her second race day outing, resulting in a 42.82 win. She then went onto to win a pair of Dapto 600m races. She certainly adds genuine interest to this event.

Opawa Louise is a proven stayer over the longer distances for her conditioner Dan Roberts. Her strong 732m Addington 43.71 victory in the New Zealand final of the Australian Nationals Distance series has been well documented.

She had a rushed preparation (owing to travel requirements) for the 730m The Meadows hosted final which didn’t aid her claims in the strong final. Afterwards, she stayed on across the Ditch and was rewarded with her 37.82 Shepparton 650m win.

Opawa Louise has raced with credit since returning home and she adds to this small, but talent laden field of stayers.

Talented field – yes, because the current Group 1 732m NZ Stayers Cup title holder also takes her place in this line-up. Since then, Grand Vue Ace has contested a number of staying races with merit and her mentor Bob Pringle will have her cherry ripe for this assignment.

The C0D stayer Diamond Alex completes the field for Malcolm Grant. He has had two previous staying races over 645m, resulting in a third to Opawa Gina last May, then he finished fifth again to Opawa Gina last Thursday.

The other 10 races on the premier meeting support card presents an interesting blend of competitive fields, ensuring a cracking afternoon of chasing action in Invercargill.   


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 08 January 2024

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