As a child I vaguely remember watching Brett Lee – the then greatest sprinter of all time race and stun Australia with his sheer speed and freakish ability. At the time I never realised how special this dog was and how much of an impact he was having and would have on the industry as a whole.
Since that time as I got older and gained an appreciation and understanding of this spectacular sport it became clear that nobody expected another dog to gain the attention and accolades of enthusiasts nationwide such as the champion did. Luckily nobody told Miata this, with the brilliant little bitch capturing the hearts of Australia to become undeniably one of the best chasers to have ever graced the racetrack.
This week, the 29 kilogram golden girl with the heart of a lion will line up in the $125,000 RSN Sandown Cup- at what will be her final racetrack appearance. With a dazzling chapter of Australian greyhound racing now coming to a close it is only fitting to take a look back at the Magnificent Miata- the greatest of our time!
Miata started her life just like any other greyhound as one small pup in a litter of ten (5 dogs and 5 bitches) which were bred by her future trainer Paul Stuart. When it came time to sell the puppies, Stuart advertised Australia’s highest stakes earner for $7000, yet nobody wanted the red fawn bitch. This would turn out to be a blessing in disguise with the daughter of Bombastic Shiraz and Winsome Bluebird, taking Stuart and eventual owner Nicole Wheeler on the ride of their young lives within the greyhound industry.
Miata had her first racetrack appearance on the 25th May 2011 at Cannington, with leading Western Australian race caller and Miata’s #1 fan Peter O’Neil remembering the night well, “I called her first race start the following week(after her performance trial) and she clocked 30.18 which is a record for a Maiden at Cannington”, the slick speedster then went on the break the Cannington track record at just her third racetrack appearance when flying around the circuit in a scintillating 29.86 seconds.
Miata returned to Cannington over the next fortnight and stopped the clock in breathtaking times of 29.84 seconds and 29.81 seconds respectively. Miata’s first taste of defeat came in the 2011 Group Three Coffex Coffee Oaks final at Angle Park where she finished second to Mepunga Nicky. The sensational Western Australian then returned to her home state where she won three of her five starts before stepping up to the 642 metre distance at Cannington. At her first attempt over the middle distance Miata phenomenally broke the track record in a blistering 36.55 seconds and just three starts later smashed the Mandurah track record dominating the race by twelve and three quarter lengths in a mind boggling 36.40 seconds. Within the blink of an eye, Miata clean swept record times over the 500,600 and 700 at Cannington returning just a week after her exhibition at Mandurah to set a new benchmark of 41.30 seconds over the Cannington 715 metres.
It is a sad fact that many WA greyhounds do not get the recognition they deserve until they take on the Eastern states best; but this is exactly what the mighty Miata did throughout 2012 and she certainly made everyone sit up and take notice- with many comparing the pint sized powerhouse to Black Caviar- the fastest thoroughbred of her era. O’Neill has been the lucky person, who has been able to experience the journey first hand, watching Miata progress from a humble little bitch racing in 5th grades at Cannington to Australia’s sweetheart and the undeniable champion of her time, “It has been the best thing for WA racing and a humble honour for me to be able to enjoy the ride with her along the way through my calling her”, O Neill said.
“WA greyhound racing rarely received any media publicity before she came along and because of her track record times she started to receive recognition. People from all three codes in WA started to talk about Miata and fans started coming to the track to watch her race. She then started travelling to the East and getting recognition in the media over there as well. She was able to gain the adoration of the nation through her deeds on the track”.
In 2012 Miata claimed not only WA greyhound of the year but also the 2012 Australian Greyhound of the year- the first time a Western Australian greyhound has been awarded the prestigious honour. Throughout the year Miata raced 25 times and remarkably won on 21 of those occasions with two further placings and a gobsmacking prize money account of $515,393. After her first crack at the trip where she broke the 715 metre track record at Cannington in January, the darling of greyhound racing went on to put together ten straight wins over the 700 metre distance. During this ultra-impressive winning streak, Miata triumphed in the Group One Sky Racing Galaxy in Perth, the Group Two Zoom Top at The Meadows and the Group One Hotham Body Repairs Association Cup at Wentworth Park( where she also clocked a track record of a flying 41.81 seconds in her heat). Her victorious run in 2012 came to an end in last year’s Group One RSN Sandown Cup taken out by Irma Bale. Despite this upset victory the exhilarating legend claimed two further Group One’s with the National Distance Championship and the Bold Trease added to her glowing resume in 2012.
In 2013 Miata returned to the track to take out her second consecutive Group One Sky Racing Galaxy whilst she placed third in the Group One Zoom Top behind Destini Fireball at The Meadows which she entered as the defending champion. Miata’s last campaign was back in February when she took out a heat of the group one Superstayers at the Meadows in a nippy 42.81 seconds before injury forced her withdrawal from the series. With her final race now fast approaching, it has been a far from ideal campaign for the brilliant chaser with just one run back from a spell in last week’s heats. Beginning well from box two in her heat, Miata was shunted back into third position before making her move in the second circuit to score decisively albeit it narrowly over the fast finishing Steve Allen in 42.39 seconds. Whilst this was much slower Irma Bale’s 41.92 seconds BON take nothing away from the great bitch that raced full of heart and merit and will be much stronger for the gallop this week.
Drawing box three for the final, Miata faces a tough task with Tasmanian Bell Haven drawn in the cherry with multiple group one winning stayer Destini Fireball boxed to pounce on her outside in four. The early leader looks to be Graeme Bate’s front running bitch Irma Bale in box five whilst Proven Impala will also be looking to snare the prize from the seven.
Whilst she faces a mammoth task, Miata is definitely the standout runner and she will only need a little bit of luck to triumph in her racing curtain call. With 50 starts to her name for 42 wins and five placings and an enormous $698,008 in stakes money, there is no one who can say this stunning performer is not one of the best we will ever have the privilege of witnessing in Australia and indeed the world. Paul Stuart’s dedication and commitment to his pride and joy is nothing short of perfection. His love for Miata shines through and he has always looked after her best interests- something that has shown in the results throughout her career.
It will be a fairy-tale ending to see her last race a winning one and to see her prize money topple over the $800,000 mark. Win, lose or draw she will be definitely remembered as a once in a lifetime champion and will be celebrated for years to come as the divine athlete she truly is.