It will take more than the threat of a greyhound ban and bushfires to stop Betty Keene from training winners.
The Twelve Mile Creek trainer was back racing at Maitland on Thursday after bushfires at The Bucketts Way damaged parts of her property earlier this month.
Task Force was first past the post for Keene in the Jenny Aitchison Appreciation Trophy Stakes, which was part of a week-long celebration at greyhound tracks across the state.
A relieved Keene said she was worried how Task Force would respond after the stress of the bushfire threat but she need not have worried as he delivered a magnificent performance.
The son of El Grand Senor and Liberty Moon showed no ill effects from the bushfires when he pinged the lids from box two in the 400m race and led all the way in 22.48s to bring up his fifth win in 24 starts.
Mailtand MP Jenny Aitchison was the guest of honour at the track on Thursday to present the trophy for this event, which was part of a statewide thank you to the people who helped win the fight to overturn the greyhound ban.
The Maitland MP once one of the greyhound industry’s greatest supporters, speaking long and loud in Parliament to stop the ban and joining a protest march on Macquarie Street.
Member for Wallsend Sonia Hornery, who organised a petition against the ban that collected more than 38,000 signatures, and Maitland Mercury editor Eve Nesmith, whose paper gave the Maitland club a voice during the ban, were also special guests.
Also a big thank you to Maitland Supporters Club members Margaret Enright, Margaret Bright, Denise Hill and Anne Foley for their wonderful effort in hosting an afternoon tea as part of the thank you celebrations.
Hummin Gun continued his purple patch of form with a last-to-first effort in the Maitland Supporters Club Juvenile final.
The John Corrigan-trained son of Spring Gun and She’s A Humming was last out of the boxes but missed trouble going into and out of the bend to grab a rails run into the home straight and salute in 22.65s and take home the $2000 first prize plus a rug.
Code’s Here was second for Mark Davidson with Sound Advice third for Christine Proctor.
The final of the Chadford Lodge Christmas Gift over 450m this Thursday is shaping as a beauty with only eight hundredths of second separating the three heat winners.
The first heat went to Wild Jimmy for Terry Priest in 25.29s, the second to Full On Lass for Greg Harborne in 25.34s and the third to Savanaka Two in 25.26s for John Callaughan.
The other finalists are Rhia’s Rocket (25.32s), White Magic Opal (25.53s), Tiny Terror (25.35s), Bear Na Live (25.32s) and Devine Ivy (25.48s).
More than $20,000 was raised to continue the court battle against the McHugh report into greyhound racing at a Fair Go dinner at Warners Bay Sports Club on Saturday.
The event attracted a sell-out crowd to listen to guest speakers Kangaroos legend Paul Sironen, recently retired Newcastle Knight James McManus.