It has been a tumultuous three months for greyhound trainers and while their industry remains in the spotlight there was a joyous mood around Dawson Park on Thursday.
The meeting was the local club’s first since the Baird government overturned its plan to ban the sport from July 1 of next year.
Trainers described each win being a little more sweet than usual while racecaller Dan Russ was keen to announce he had renamed events like the #CanTheBan Stakes to the Ban Has Been Canned Stakes.
In terms of the on-track matters, Wellington trainer Ron Steel and Dubbo counterpart Leighton Winter each had yet another successful day at Dawson Park and finished with trebles.
Steel dominated the early part of the day, winning three of the first four races while Winter finished with a flourish and won three consecutive events late on.
At the midway point of the meeting Andrew Bell saw his faith rewarded when Lektra Fella took out the Ray Hadley Appreciation Stakes (516m).
The consistent performer had finished in the placings in his past five starts but was unable to add to his record of two wins.
That changed on Thursday when Lektra Fella ($10.60) got to the lead early and went on to win by a comfortable two-and-a-half lengths from Mary’s Shadow ($2.80) and Spring Bobbi ($26.50).
“He won a few weeks back but has been running few placings recently and today he finally jumped out in front and he’s very hard to hold out,” Bell said.
“He’s been in some tough races at Coonamble and racing some good dogs but hadn’t been able to get to the front and today he did and he went well.”
The trainer added the news of the past few days made his win even more enjoyable.
“It makes it even so much sweeter,” he said of the ban reversal.
Bell’s win was followed by a victory to a Dawson Park regular, Raymond Smith.
And much like Bell, he was pleased to see such a positive mood at the club.
“Everyone is happy today and everything is good,” he said. after seeing Irinka Alf steal victory.
The $12.50 chance sat deep for much of the 518m journey and didn’t appear to be in the running but as the field began the sprint towards the winning post he found clear air down the inside along the rail.
That was all the invitation the veteran dog needed as he powered to a half-length victory ahead of the fast-finishing Tango’s Express ($15.50).
“He never went looking for it but they gave it to him so he took it,” Smith said of Irinka Alf’s run home. “He always finishes them off.”