A Special Anniversary At Grafton

By Jeff Collerson
Sonia and Warren Kempshall's wedding anniversary celebrations got off to an early start when the Sandy Crossing (Clarence Valley) trainers snared a winning double at Grafton on Sunday night.

The Kempshalls took out a 450m maiden event with Phantom Menace before that dog's litter brother Le Shark won the $2000 to the winner GDSC Maiden Final over the same distance.

"We celebrated seven years of marriage on Monday so it was nice to win a couple of races the night before,'' Sonia said.

"And it was especially significant the wins were at Grafton as we were married on that track while a greyhound race meeting was being conducted, something I believe was unique in Australia.

"Warren's family have a greyhound racing background but my family were thoroughbred racing folk and my father was the late Jimmy Miller, a highly successful jockey.

"Jimmy rode a lot for leading Sydney trainer Les Bridge who is the godfather of my brother while my godfather is the famous TV personality Brian Henderson, who passed away earlier this year.

"Warren and I usually breed at least one litter every 12 months but when a bitch we were sure was going to whelp last year missed, we took three young greyhounds to train on behalf of John Staines and John Glover.

"Phantom Menace and Le Shark are two of those puppies and Le Shark especially is making up into a really nice dog.''

Phantom Menace and Le Shark are bred to go fast as while their dam Satelia won only two small Victorian country races from just five starts, she is a daughter of the former DAVE Irwin-trained flying machine Scissor Queen.

Scissor Queen won 20 of 31 races and is also the mother of the talented but injury prone Barcia Blue Boy, who has won eight of 12 starts and the Peter Lagogiane-trained Vicki's Queen, whose 10 wins have earned her connections $63,000.

Smart Fernando had future Wenty winner written all over him when he gave a strong field a galloping lesson in a slick 30.70 romp over 535m at Richmond last Sunday.

His owner-trainer Greg Sutherland, who has trained intermittently for over 25 years, said: "I certainly hope so as I have not had a WP winner.

"For some reason Smart Fernando does not seem to go as well there as he does at places like Richmond but he is going better now than ever before.

"I am semi-retired and my wife and I have our own little business selling garden statues in the Blue Mountains.

"I plan on building up a little team of dogs even though I think I am the only trainer here in Faulconbridge.

"It's a convenient spot because it's only 30 minutes to Richmond, an hour to Wenty and 90 minutes from Dapto.

"Smart Fernando was a $6000 purchase from his breeder, fellow trainer Eddie Foyle, when he was a six months old puppy and he has now had 11 wins and 20 placings.''

The impeccably bred Zipping Lopez maintained his unbeaten record at Richmond on Sunday and will be out to take his tally to four wins from four starts at Maitland next Monday.

Zipping Lopez, a son of boom stud dog Zipping Garth and the 2016 WP Ladies Bracelet winner Zipping Lilly, won on debut over 450m at Maitland in 25.43 before equalling the Grafton 350m record of 19.81.

Sunday's Richmond win was over 330m when he stopped the clock at a slick 18.65 despite being last to leave the boxes.

"Zipping Lopez has a lot more improvement in him and if he can get the start right and is able to get 500m later on he has a bright future,'' trainer Jason Mackay said.