TWIN CHALLENGE: Casino’s Mark Wilkes is hoping to score a memorable victory with his greyhound War Picture in tonight’s auction final at the Ipswich Showgrounds. Wilkes has a second runner In The Picture.
TWIN CHALLENGE: Casino’s Mark Wilkes is hoping to score a memorable victory with his greyhound War Picture in tonight’s auction final at the Ipswich Showgrounds. Wilkes has a second runner In The Picture. Rick Odonnell Httpwwwjustgreyhoundphotoscom

NSW trainer can picture victory in Ipswich series

THE Rosewood and District Community Bank sponsored Ipswich Magical Puppy auction and race series has been going since 1987.

In that time only one interstate trained greyhound has won the event. That was the Tasmanian dog Rob Pines, trained by Ted Medhurst, in 2013.

To put this in some perspective there haven't been many interstate greyhounds contest the series over the years.

Four semi finals of the 2015 race series were run last Saturday night at the Ipswich Showgrounds.

Tonight, trainer Mark Wilkes hopes to become the first NSW trainer to win the event.

Wilkes produced the two fastest winners last week in the semi finals.

That's a noteworthy feat, given that the Casino-based trainer only has three greyhounds in work.

Wilkes scored with In the Picture in 30.77 and War Picture in 30.80.

Trainer Bob Essex, of Greenbank, won the other two semis with long shots Maywyn's Keeper in 30.93 and Maywyn's Ying in 30.98.

In an unusual happening, Essex's pair and In the Picture were maidens going into their races.

"I've got the two quickest semi final winners and times say they might run first and second in the final but that doesn't always happen of course,'' Wilkes said.

The third greyhound that Wilkes has in work, Heeza Picture, made it to the semi finals but ran fifth.

The $38,150 to the winner final is run tonight.

Wilkes is happy with the box draws of four for In the Picture and eight for War Picture.

"I can thank my mate Bob Lane (the Northern Rivers based racecaller) for those draws,'' Wilkes said.

"He came to Ipswich with me last Saturday and asked if he could do anything to help. I asked Bob to participate in the draw for the boxes for my runners.

"Bob did well. War Picture has never been beaten from boxes seven or eight so out wide suits him.

"Even though last Saturday was In the Picture's first win, and that was from box two, he has never drawn wider than five in his life and has placings from centre draws.

"My main problem is the fact that both dogs are moderate early and strong finishers. I'd like to think if one of them is within close contact of the leaders I'm a chance of winning.''

Wilkes, 57, said having two or three greyhounds in work is a comfortable number at his stage of life.

"I retired from work in the council in Casino in 2007 and like to take things steadily,'' he said.

"I decided to breed with Sheeza Picture who was a really good race bitch for us. She is out of Classy Alice, a litter sister to Paua to Burn who was a real star sprinter.

"Her first litter, by El Galo, won about 50 races. There were no superstars but most were handy.

"This second litter, by College Causway, are doing well at the moment. In the Picture broke in best but has had a few injuries. He's really good at working through a field.''

Wilkes is no stranger to the Ipswich Magical Auction series.

"I finished second on two occasions with Leica Picture, beaten by Go Makatam both times,'' the trainer recalled.

That was in 2007 when the Ipswich club experimented with two separate auction finals, over 431 metres and 520 metres.

The first race tonight is at 5.55pm, with the Magical Auction final at 8.08pm.


Career best effort

COL and Pauline Byers from Toowoomba are two of the most recognisable faces at Ipswich greyhound meetings.

Col has won multiple Ipswich training premierships and greyhound of the year contests. Last Tuesday at the Showgrounds, he landed a career best five winners.

"We had five winners plus second, third and fourth placegetters from eight runners on the day. We were stoked,'' Pauline said.

"It's the first time we have ever had five winners at one meeting.

"Our previous best was four winners at Moree. We've had three at Ipswich and Albion Park.''

Another great achievement by Col and Pauline was with Charmed Speed, who won 35 races, a record for the track, at Ipswich during 2012-13.


Rapid windfall

HOW's this for a coincidence?

Last Saturday night at Ipswich, the winner of the first semi final of the Magical Auction series was Maywyn's Keeper. He was number nine, gaining a start and making the most of the opportunity.

A short time later, the first reserve Dyna Nico won the first semi final of the Golden Easter Egg at Sydney's Wentworth Park.

Maywyn's Keeper paid $42.30 for the win. Dyna Nico's win dividend was $12.70. People who back reserves had a windfall there in a very short space of time.


Consider this: YOU only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.

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