Mountain Of Love & Matic’s Appin Cup

Harry And Helen Markou With Ruth MaticSaturday June 7 saw great weather, 3 top heats of the Cup, 4 Blue Paws Maiden heats and 3 grade 5 Blue Paws heats all over 274 metres for finals on Monday. Enthusiasm and excited expectation were in the air with excellent attendances of more than double the best Appin crowds.

A great Monday program with overcast but fine weather saw the first final, the 274m Blue Paws Mixed won in handsome fashion by Majella Ferguson's Choose To Dream in a slick 15.90 exactly the same as in ran in the heat which was its first start. The dog is very promising and beat another smart one in Harry Markou's Burst of Love which also won its heat impressively but on the day Majella's dog was just too good, winning by two and half lengths. Another impressive heat winner Where's Heros ran third for Barry Riccio.

Harry went one better in the next final the Blue Paws grade 5 when Racing Love won its third start at Appin from four trys –it has won all three starts over the 274m – it defeated Mystique Mover in the hands of Allan Muir who had also qualified litter brother Mystique Victor for the final. Titanium Paddy ran third for staunch Appin supporter Patrick Byrne who again brought a big team to race. The time was a very smart 15.77 to go with the winner's best over the distance of 15.73 and its heat win of 15.79. Connections of winners of both these Blue Paws events were additionally happy as both winners are Blue Paws nominated earning them the extra of the $600 Blue Paws .

The Cup Consolation was won by Steve Konkolics' Make Mine Shiraz by a head from 's Future Fund, The time was 21.18. John Lawson from Aberdeen had two in this race and one in the final. He is a great supporter of the Country Challenge and will be off to Broken Hill we understand to chase some points. Gigi Buffon, still a fifth grader, ran third and would have pleased owner/trainer Tony Chiarelli with a couple of strong performances against the top graders. Make Mine Shiraz has now won three and placed in nine from 14 starts at Appin. Cup consolations can sometimes fall away but not here, where all who qualified took their place and the club appreciated this commitment from owners and trainers who enthusiastically supported the racing program over the weekend, working hard to ensure their charges backed up for the Monday finals (there were no withdrawals), enabling 19 excellent races to be programmed at a time when there was much competition from other venues.

The big one, the Cup final saw Harry and Helen Markou's Mountain of Love a deserved winner, improving on its heat second to Majestic Puzzle (time 21.13) defeating by three and a quarter lengths, with 's New Fears half a head back in third. Harry breeds, owns and trains a sizeable team but has entrusted Mountain of Love to the very astute hands of Ruth Matic, who did a great job in backing up the dog to improve its time in winning the final in a slick 20.82. GRNSW Board Member , the club's special guest, made the presentation to the delighted connections pictured: Harry and Helen Markou, accompanied by Ruth Matic's daughter Danielle, who is a wonderful support to her mum's training efforts. The Matics were also proud of runner up Sancho, legend for his many victories over the shorter 274m at Appin for stepping up and performing so well in this series over the 366m. Sancho is trained by Ruth's husband Matthew.

Harry and Helen were delighted with Mountain Of Love's victory, Harry confirming he's a special dog, adding” he's the best dog I've had, first, second and third!” Congratulations to Harry, Helen, Ruth and Daniel le and everyone behind the scenes who support them – this win looks certain to cement Mountain Of Love's place in the up-coming Final at Wentworth and will fly the flag high for Appin in this event which has created considerable interest – ‘tis an excellent initiative of GRNSW enthusiastically supported by participants and well promoted by GRNSW.

Coincidently, the Moss Vale GRNSW Country Challenge Final run at Appin in early March also the same two dogs in the same placings but over the shorter 274m.

The meeting benefited from GRNSW funding of the $5000 prize money for the Cup final and from generous sponsorship from the Friends of Greyhound Support (FOAW) whose regular sponsorships each year through generous participant and patron support of their on track fundraising, allow significant boosts to regular prize money. The FOAW are a wonderful support to the Appin operations and the tireless work of their dedicated members is greatly appreciated. On this week end their support enabled the Blue Paws finals to offer $500 for first plus the Cup Consolation of $700 for the winner and resulted in the Appin Masters with added prize money – a race for dogs over 4 years who had not won in 2008. This was popular with 8 nominations (7 started) and was won handsomely by Elite Diamond trained at Wyee by Ron Patteson for Gloria Ashcroft in 16.16 from Old Blue and Stately Irish. The dogs ranged from grade 5 to grade 1 but it was an even affair with less than 5 lengths from first to last.

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