The Coonamble Racing Carnival is officially done and dusted for another year. The grass track was host to 71 events over the October long weekend, with top honours going to Dubbo trainer Charmaine Roberts who took out 10 races, including the $10,000 to the winner Global Hr Pty Ltd Gold Maiden final.
“We took eleven dogs but they raced 16 times because obviously some of them backed up. We won 10 races, we ran two seconds and had four unplaced”, Roberts explained.
“This year was really good because all of them, except two dogs that belong to Marty and Fiona Hallinan (Zipping Ozzy & Zipping Gilbert), were our own that we bred out of our own bitches. When you have dogs like that it makes it a little bit more special”.
Roberts’ enormous weekend kicked off during the first meeting on Friday where she trained a winning treble. The first to salute was Zipping Ozzy who overcame an awkward draw in box four to salute by four and one quarter lengths in the fifth event. The son of Bit Chili and Natalie Rass was having his first race start on Friday, as was his litter brother, Zipping Gilbert, who began well from an identical draw to land the cash in race six. Also breaking his maiden status during the first meeting was Obama Keeping who handled box six to perfection when scoring in a handy 30.97s over the 530 metre trip.
Roberts’ runners returned to the track that night, taking out a double during the 11 race card. Batman Keeping got the ball rolling in race two, annihilating his competitors by four and a half lengths in 17.81s. In the following event, Pin High proved too good for his fellow canines, sprinting away with a 23.37s success over the 400 metre start.
Saturday was a much quieter day for Keeping Kennels with four starters resulting in three winners. During the morning meeting, the consistent Roobak stepped out for her sixth start and recorded her third career victory from box eight. The Mantra Lad bitch defeated Pat Parelli’s Devine Amrak by two and one quarter lengths in 17.66s.
Saturday afternoon saw twelve heats of the Global Hr Pty Ltd Sprint, of which Roberts took out two. Littermates Hummer Keeping and Maloo Keeping motored along in their respective qualifiers to salute in an identical time of 17.60s.
Heading into Monday’s main event, Roberts’ reveals that she thought Hummer Keeping held the key to unlocking Coonamble glory
“I was probably more confident in her. I thought she might jump in front and then they might jam up and they wouldn’t catch her”.
“To be quite honest he (Maloo Keeping) is the quickest dog, he broke in the quickest and everything like that, but he is not really quick out of the boxes, Hummer (Keeping) is. We have trialled them together and he (Maloo Keeping) has never beaten her (Hummer Keeping) out of the boxes. She would beat him out two to three lengths out every time but he would run over the top of her. She has never ever missed the start in any of the trials we have given her- and she missed the kick in the heat but she was still lucky enough to win- then she missed it in the final and you can’t miss the start in finals, she got spat out the back”.
However, when the lids flew open, it was Maloo Keeping that rose to the challenge. The son of Cosmic Rumble and Cody Keeping did not let a horror box five worry him as he rocketed to the line three and a half lengths ahead of Spring Spaniard in 17.66s.
“It was really good and I was really excited after all the hard work you put into them”.
“We do only live two hours away but by the time you go up there and trial the dogs, turn around and come back, the whole day is gone”.
“We have won it a couple of times but it is nice to win it again”.
The win in the Gold Final came after Romeo Keeping scored earlier in the day. Beginning well from box two, the 34.2 kilogram powerhouse was too strong, notching up his first career victory in 23.64s.
Roberts, who has been attending the Carnival for around 12 years, is no stranger to success in the maiden final, taking out the decider on two other occasions.
“12-15 years we have been going. It is always good to support the club. Even throughout the year we go up there just to support them and race there. We didn’t do that as much this year because we didn’t have as many dogs- these dogs have only come to hand the last month or so. We haven’t had a lot of dogs racing this year but if Coonamble race and we have the dogs we take them up because it helps them out as a club and it gives the dogs a different track and a different environment”.
“We won it in 2005. We won first and third and the bitch that we won it with won off box five. We got the quinella again in 2009 with the one box”.
While Maloo Keeping took out the main event, Roberts believes that her maiden winner from Friday night will emerge as her best chaser from the weekend
“A dog we had in a 500 metre race called Obama Keeping will probably make a nice stayer later on but he is only young. He won his maiden 500 metre heat but he only came second in the final. Just where he was and where he came from was a really good run”.
With such a successful weekend all-round, Roberts also reflects on what she enjoys most about the Carnival and why she continues to make the trip every year
“It is really good especially for young dogs to go up there and sit in the trailer just for a weekend. It really does improve a hell of a lot of dogs, sitting in the trailer, getting in and out every couple of hours to have a wee and walk around. Some dogs love it. The dog that we won with on Friday night is a little bit highly strung and I was a little bit worried about him going up there but he relaxed really well… he was fresh as a button and ripping the grass up…he absolutely loved it”.
“It is an experience. There is nothing at Coonamble and the crowd was probably a little bit down on what it normally is but you certainly can’t bottle what happens there”