Fastest qualifier Ridge gave Bill McMahon back-to-back victories in the Group 3 TAB Great Chase (525m) at The Meadows on Wednesday afternoon, with the Darriman trainer having won the community-focused series with star sprinter Dr. Tucker in 2020.
Ridge, an April 2019 son of the great Fernando Bale, bred and raced by Jennifer Gill, was the quickest semi-final winner one week earlier, when exiting Box 7 and finishing best to defeat Reloaded in 29.99sec.
His win in Wednesday afternoon’s $47,000 to-the-winner final of the 1-5 wins series was a virtual carbon copy of his semi success, if you substitute runner-up Hamillson.
Around 30 community groups from Victoria’s disability sector participated in a Great Chase zoom call this afternoon, with eight of the organisations randomly drawn a greyhound in the Grand Final.
The eight groups shared in $24,000 – seven of which collected $2,000 – while Shannon Park Scope received a top prize of $10,000 for being matched to Ridge.
Once again drawn in Box 7, as he was in his semi, Ridge was overlooked by punters, much to McMahon’s consternation, starting at $9.10, with speedy Idolize (Box 6) sent out favourite at $3.70, ahead of Hamillson (Box 2) at $5, True Collinda (Box 5) at $5.30 and Indy Fido (Box 1) at $6.30.
As anticipated, Idolize came out running but wasn’t able to cross Hamillson and Indy Fido, as Ridge navigated a path to the rails heading into the first turn.
Hamillson got the better of Indy Fido in the back straight but Ridge had the last shot at the leader and finished strongly, as he had a week earlier, to score by one length in 30.01sec, with Hushing Dusk ($27.20) running home strongly into third.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” said a delighted McMahon.
“Two months ago I told a mate of mine that I’d go back-to-back in the race.
“What surprised me was that nobody tipped him to run in the first four!
“He was the fastest semi winner from last week, drawn in the same box and he was the most experienced and educated dog in the race.
“I thought the six (Idolize) would give him a cart across but when he found his way onto the paint going past the winning post the first time I thought he can win from here.
WATCH: HAMILLSON (B2) showed plenty of courage to push through and lead for much of the G3 TAB Great Chase Grand Final, but it was fastest heat winner RIDGE (B7) who finished with a steely determination to give trainer Bill McMahon back-to-back wins in the race.
“He ran 29.99sec last week and 30.01sec today, so he’s consistently running those sorts of times. That’ll do me!” he added with a laugh.
Ridge started his career in the G3 Vic Breeders series held at The Meadows during the Australian Cup Carnival, running a close third to Jazz Opera in the final, and has now won seven of his 27 starts, with 14 minor placings.
After winning only three of his first 22 starts, Ridge has put it all together, winning four of his last five, with McMahon predicting he could have a bright future over longer distances.
“He just needed to learn how to race, the whole litter is the same,” McMahon said.
“When he started off in the Vic Breeders he was going super. He wasn’t far off what Dr. Tucker runs down the back over ‘500’, but he’s nowhere near as brilliant as Dr. Tucker.
“He’s a good, heady dog. He’s not scared to go around dogs and he’s very strong too. There’s nothing to say the dog won’t run further; that’s what I’ve got in the back of my mind. He only starts hitting top gear at about the 500m mark.”
In an attempt to ‘beat the grader’, pre-Wednesday’s final McMahon nominated Ridge for the heats of a Grade 5 series at his home track of Sale on Sunday night and the plan looks like paying off after the Great Chase hero drew ‘the red’.
McMahon will head to Sandown Park on Thursday, where he’s optimistic Dr. Tucker can bounce back from a luckless sixth in last Saturday’s G2 Bendigo Cup final when he exits Box 3 in the FFA sprint (race 8 at 5.47pm).
“He’s come through the race good; he just had no luck,” McMahon said of Dr. Tucker’s Bendigo Cup run.
“The inside dogs wanted off and the outside dogs wanted in and he was the meat in the sandwich. Looking at him, you could see he was frustrated that he was so far off the lure.”
GRV’s TAB Great Chase series has seen around $700,000 donated to Victoria’s disability sector since it first began in 2003.
2021 TAB Great Chase Grand Final – the winning groups:
Photos by Clint Anderson
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