It was the result that most expected, and to be honest, it must be called the correct choice as Ken Gill’s cult hero, Ernie Bung Arrow, was awarded the 2014 South Australian Greyhound of the Year at the gala dinner last weekend.
The black son of Lochinvar Marlow and Slipper’s Tonic took the local greyhound scene by storm with a streak of wins in the second half of 2013, finishing the year with 18 starts, 16 wins and a second.
The GOTY title looked a formality on paper after the dog was awarded the monthly award in July, September, October and December. He was given the prestigious title ahead of four other nominations in Fire Tyson, Token Mclaren, Tercel and Kalden Kurageous. He now joins the honour roll along with such names as Lion Hearted, Drink Driver, Scull Murphy, Hope’s Up, Miss Spicy and Satanic Cash, all of recent memory.
His ability to perform under pressure against the best opposition possible saw him eclipse three Group races in three months, culminating in the Group One Adelaide Cup final in October.
That Adelaide Cup win was subsequently awarded the S.A run of the year with 43% of public vote. Given the volume of sound coming from the crowd as Ernie crossed the line, one would expect that percentage to be higher, but the win itself was something to behold. Facing a tremendous interstate field from the widest box, the young chaser ran them off their legs for a stirring landmark victory.
Owned by Helen Deacon, the S.A Bred Greyhound of the Year award also went the way of Ernie Bung Arrow.
However, there were other winners on the night too, with Ben Rawlings taking out the Young Person of the Year and leading Metropolitan Strike Rate awards.
Ben led the way with a 30% winners-to-starters ratio at Angle Park Thursday night metropolitan meetings, courtesy of such chasers as Bogie Magic, Bogie Prince, Kennington Oval, Kenso Karoo and Wiregrass.
Token Mclaren easily won Distance Greyhound of the Year with his amazing performances over 600 and 731 metres. Owned and trained by Tania and Donald Foster, Token Mclaren wowed audiences with some stirring wins by big margins, often in times not seen for many years.
Ronald and Joan Schadow left with their share of trophies, with Teelah winning Brood Bitch of the Year and Ron winning the Owner/Trainer title. The Schadow team are known for the ‘Victa’ dogs, with Victa Scott, Sam and Nicole, amongst others, having very successful years.
The Tony Lagana litter of out of Avid Willow saw Avid Tyson given the Gawler Track Star award with 17 wins, while his sire Emerley Carlos, was given the S.A Sire of the Year for Peter and July Hurley with 101 wins.
On the trainer’s front, Karen Bearpark was announced as S.A TAB Leading Trainer with 150 wins for the year, as well as Breeder of The Year on 259 points. Meanwhile Don Turner once again dominated the Country Trainer of the Year category.
Natascha Isaacson was announced South Australia’s leading volunteer, while the Prominent Dogs Syndicate, managed by Stephen Viney didn’t leave empty handed either.
It was a strong year for the state in 2013 and with some very smart youngsters already running top grade times, along with further infrastructure completions, 2014 should be another step forward for a state with a proud and historic greyhound landscape.