The Ernie Bung Arrow bandwagon is expanding by the day as this cult hero continues to build one of the most imposing racing records in the country.
His latest successful mission was the S.A Sprint Championship final, which was scheduled to be run at Angle Park on Thursday night, but due to the extreme weather, was moved to a Friday night timeslot.
All week Adelaide had endured temperatures upwards of 44 degrees, but by the time the Friday night meeting got underway, sweeping winds lashed the city, providing the precursor to a spectacular thunderstorm that would finish off a draining seven days of weather.
With hardly ideal conditions for racing, eight of the best local chasers faced the starter for the $15,000 to the winner final. Ernie Bung Arrow was always going to be the favourite – $1.70 on this occasion – but from box three with pace on his outside, appeared no certainty to beat the cream of the state’s crop.
Fire Tyson for Tony Lagana started from box five and entered the race at the peak of his powers. Punters gave him every chance as a $4.00 elect, with the strength of Cosmic Way being kept safe at $6.00. Bookend chasers Bogie Magic and Encosta Kahn would sit on the next line of betting.
As the runners went to the boxes, viewers knew the first section was to be crucial. Would Ernie jump as well from the inside draw? Would the weather be a factor? Would Cosmic Way be ready to pounce if the favourite was to get weary?
The answers to all of the above were given 4.41 seconds after boxrise, as Ken Gill’s once-in-a-lifetime chaser speared the lids again, flying to the front of the pack and holding a length lead past the post the first time.
Bogie Magic was looking to push across from the outside box, heading a clump of chasers including Encosta Kahn and Cosmic Way. Fire Tyson had blown the start tonight and in such a good race was already facing an uphill battle to make any sort of impact.
Ernie Bung Arrow showed the way down the back, clocking 16.87 with the type of speed we have grown to love. Bogie Magic was the only one able to apply any pressure, and the result was all but known barring any type of shock fadeout.
Rounding the home turn all one could do was marvel at this wonderful son of Lochinvar Marlow and Slipper’s Tonic. Running out the 515 metres in 29.71, he finished over four lengths ahead of Bogie Magic who did all he could in the pursuit. Encosta Kahn held on to the minor end of the prize, with Cosmic Way finishing hard in fourth place.
It was a statement performance by Ernie Bung Arrow. He’s obviously locally trained, but also locally bred by Barry Jones and locally owned by Helen Deacon. Furthermore, in a race where only such chasers could enter, he proved once again to be almost unbeatable at Angle Park.
He’s up to 17 wins from 19 starts and $165,000 in prizemoney, and as such, it must be said that it’s time to travel. The dog has been to Victoria without being nominated, and while it’s great that connections are willing to support the local industry, it’s time to take cash from different parts of the land.
For many, many years South Australian’s have watched their biggest prizes go the way of interstate greyhounds. And while Ernie has stopped that trend by winning the S.A Derby and Adelaide Cups last year, it would be something quite different to go across borders and bring some of the rival’s finest silverware back to Adelaide.
Understandably though, all the pieces need to fall in place, and that wasn’t the case for the dogs’ first two sojourns. One can’t help but think of Tasmanian greyhound Damek, who silently lost credibility on his amazing career by never being able to perform at 100% on interstate soil. It would be a tragedy for the same to happen to Ernie Bung Arrow, but unfortunately, that’s the way the industry works in the 21st century.
For now however, the wonderful story continues for Ken Gill and Helen Deacon, and one gets the feeling this bandwagon is a long way from being full just yet.