Thirty years ago Neil Thompson, as an owner-trainer, won the National Sprint Championship at Brisbane’s Gabba track with his star sprinter Madonna Lee.
Fast forward from that year of 1982 to 2012 and Thompson is staring at another championship, this time the National Distance with Finn’s Express.
Nowadays, Thompson breeds and owns greyhounds but has them trained by his friend and previously kennel foreman Darren Titmarsh.
Last night the pair combined to win a heat of the National Distance Championship at Albion Park with promising stayer Finn’s Express.
Favourably boxed in two, as opposed to last week’s box eight draw when second to Mocha Shocker in the 710 metres President’s Cup, Finn’s Express raced home powerfully to score by a widening two and a quarter lengths from Barry Dull’s Befitting and Jason Kent’s Lay Down Teddy. Fourth home was David Smyth’s Black Cat Moan to qualify for next Thursday’s state final. Finn’s Express clocked 42.41.
‘’Thommo has already declared that I will be the one making the trip to Hobart for the grand final if this bitch can win the state final,’’ Titmarsh (pictured with Thompson) enthused after last night’s win.
The other heat for the stayers saw Bruce and Juanita Linnan’s Tarlie’s Angel score from box one at the juicy price of $11.80 on the win tote. The home bred daughter of Collision and Suite Tahlia beat Glenn Smith’s Fashion Flyer by a length and three quarters in 42.56. Third home was Hot Sunday for Renald Attard with Gary Keep’s Ba Bling sneaking into the state final with her fourth placing.
$1.60 favourite Mocha Shocker got pushed extremely wide around the first turn from his box eight draw and never came into play, finishing sixth.
The box draw for next Thursday night’s Queensland final of the National Distance Championship is: 1 Fashion Flyer, 2 Hot Sunday, 3 Black Cat Moan, 4 Tarlie’s Angel, 5 Lay Down Teddy, 6 Ba Bling, 7 Befitting, 8 Finn’s Express, Reserves: 9 Carlinford Frost, 10 Heartland Girl.
Albion Park staged three heats of the National Sprint Championship last night.
Geoff Allen’s Hanson Senor led all the way in heat one in 30.18, beating Ron Ball’s Tough As and Master Brutus for Paul Cauchi. The trio go through to next Thursday’s state final.
Tony Brett’s Glen Gallon led from the first turn to beat Ron Ball’s Bellagio Lad by four and a quarter lengths in a slick 29.79 in heat two. Third home was Chris O’Riordan’s Spirited Flame whose 30.20 effort gives her a spot in next week’s final.
Ron Ball won heat three with youngster Cakes and Pies who scored by six lengths over Reg Kay’s Knocka Down in 30.17. The third placegetter, Aladdin’s Queen for Barry Morris, is the first reserve for the state final.
Reg Kay expressed some concern for Knocka Down after the race.
‘’He didn’t look right to me going around the first turn and he normally wouldn’t weaken in the run home. Obviously I’ll be keeping a close eye on the dog and checking for any problems over the next few days,’’ Kay said.
The box draw for next Thursday’s Queensland final of the National Sprint Championship is: 1 Tough As, 2 Knocka Down, 3 Bellagio Lad, 4 Hanson Senor, 5 Cakes and Pies, 6 Spirited Flame, 7 Master Brutus, 8 Glen Gallon, Reserves: 9 Aladdin’s Queen, 10 Sobbing Destiny.
The winner of each final will represent Queensland in the grand finals in Hobart on Saturday, August 25. The National Sprint and Distance Championships are both group one events carrying a winner’s prize of $75,000.
Queensland is the reigning champion state following wins on home soil at Albion Park last year by Ron Ball’s Metz Magic and Dwyer Lennon’s Dashing Corsair in the two finals.
Story by Paul Dolan, photo by Corey Pearce.