Ernie and Ken lap up glory

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IT took less than 40 seconds for Lewiston greyhound trainer, Ken Gill’s life to change when his dog Ernie Bung Arrow won the $75,000 Triple M Adelaide Cup at Angle Park on October 10.

• The pair are pictured with their Adelaide Cup trophy at Ken’s training track.

“Ernie” as he is affectionately known, was the youngest dog in the race, and at just 23 months old has won nearly $120,000 in prize money since he first raced in June this year, winning 14 of 15 starts – until a defeat in Melbourne at the Meadows in the Group 1 Topgun on Saturday, October 26.

But that loss takes nothing away from Ernie’s achievements.

He was the first South Australian dog to win the cup since 2006.

Not bad for a dog who was purchased as a five-month-old pup for just $800.

Involved in the greyhound industry for more than 40 years, and a resident of the area for the past quarter of a century, Ken and partner, Helen Deacon’s, luck has certainly changed for the better with their rising star, Ernie Bung Arrow, winning the prestigious Cup by five lengths.

“I knew he was pretty good when we broke him in,” Ken reflects.

“He looked fast but I didn’t actually know how fast until we had him time trialed in Gawler.”

Bung Arrow is an Aboriginal word for goanna, a seemingly odd choice for a dog but a name now etched into the winners’ books and striking a chord with many South Aussies.

“I wanted a name that people would remember,” Ken laughed.

“And we couldn’t call him Ernie Dingo so it was Bung Arrow.”

Before the Adelaide Cup, Ernie also won the SA Derby and was invited to take part in the $150,000 Top Gun event – an invitation-only race of the nation’s top eight dogs.

Sadly, Ernie missed the jump, finishing last behind West Australian star Dyna Nalin, with Ken saying the dog was too overawed by the whole experience.

“It was a big thing, everybody’s eyes were on him, he’s got a bit of a cult following here in SA, so all eyes were on him,” he said.

“The dog got stirred up, all he wanted to do was go, he wasn’t frightened, he just wanted to go and he blew the start.

“He’ll be a much better dog next year with a bit of age under him.”

Ken said Ernie would now take a well-earned rest, before tackling the Brian Johnston series at Angle Park from November 20.

Next time Ernie ventures to Melbourne (for the Silver Chief in December) he will be better prepared, with Ken opting to kennel the dog with Victorian trainer Kel Greenough.

“It’s too hard to fly a dog over there on race day and expect him to perform so next time I’m going to leave him there,” he said. “Kel will train him his way, I won’t interfere.

“If the dog doesn’t perform he’ll come home earlier. If he does, he’ll stay there until February maybe.

“He’ll come back from this loss as good as ever and he’ll learn so much by staying over in Melbourne. He’ll really fly.”

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