Background To The National Sprint Championship

Cannington plays host to National Sprint Championship final in 2014 for only the fifth time in the history of the event. It first staged the race in 1979, when NSW champion Acclaim Star scored a brilliant win. Acclaim Star became Australia’s highest prize money winner during his career. Then, in 1989, local superstar Sandi’s Me Mum annexed the first of two consecutive Sprint Championships. She too went on to become Australia’s highest prize money winner. In 1998, the great Rapid Journey came from box six and almost last place at the first turn to score. He finished his career as Australia’s highest prize money earner, and the first to pass half a million dollars.

That Cannington/prize money nexus was broken in 2004 when NSW sprinter In For Life was victorious. The last time the race was run in Cannington, the late all-distance champion Dashing Corsair from Queensland was successful.

If the past is anything to go by, then a genuine topliner is needed to take out the race when it is run at Cannington.

Inaugural Running

The first National Sprint Championship was run on 11 September 1965 over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park. The race was taken out by NSW sprinter Best Sun (box seven), trained by Eddie Batiste. Indeed the first four across the line were all from NSW, with second place going to Satyr Rocket, two lengths behind Best Sun, with Chariot Charm a length away third and Black Tass fourth. Queenslander He’s Lightning was fifth ahead of the Victorian Billy Vee.

Eddie Batiste, who earned £2,000 for the win, had earlier made headlines as being the man who discovered the lifeless bodies of Dr Gilbert Bogle and Mrs Margaret Chandler in 1963, in a case that baffled the nation.

Tracks & Distances

Eleven tracks across six states have held the final. Between 1965 and 1976 the race alternated between New South Wales and Victoria. Since 1977 it has moved around the country.

Harold Park 1965, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1983, 1984 (457 metres)

Olympic Park 1966, 1970, 1974, 1981, 1992 (511 metres)

Wentworth Park 1967, 1971, 1975 (530 metres), 1991, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2008 (520 metres),

Sandown Park 1968, 1972 (507 metres), 1976, 1985 (513 metres), 1990, 1995 (511 metres), 2007 (515 metres),

Gabba 1977, 1982, 1988 (558 metres)

Angle Park 1978, 1986, 1993 (512 metres), 1997, 2003, 2010 (515 metres)

Cannington 1979, 1989, 1998, 2004, 2009 (530 metres),

Albion Park 1996, 2002, 2011 (520 metres),

Launceston 2000 (522 metres), 2006 (515 metres)

Hobart 1987 (457 metres), 2012 (461 metres)

The Meadows 2001 (518 metres), 2013 (525 metres)

When Is The Race Run

Until 2006 and again in 2009 it was run in either September or October. In 2007, 2008, and since 2010 it has been held in August.

Biggest Winning Margins

Gallant Ruler (NSW) won by 12 lengths in 1994, Red Zero (NSW) by eight lengths in 1969, Knocka Norris (Q) by seven and a half lengths in 2008, and Temlee (V) by six lengths in 1974.

Closest Winning Margins

Coorparoo Flyer (Q) 1975, Bit Chili (NSW) 2007, and Smooth Fancy (NSW) 2010 all prevailed by a head, while King Miller (NSW) 1971, Prince Of Tigers (WA) 1997, Rapid Journey (NSW) 1998, In For Life (NSW) 2004 and Dashing Corsair (Q) 2009 all scored by just a neck.

Most Successful Trainers

Petar Jovanovic leads with three winners (Scenic Spa 1985, Stetson 1986 and Shayne’s Champ 1996, although Maryanne Jovanovic is also credited in Scenic Spa’s success) ahead of Gerry O’Keefe with Sandi’s Me Mum (1989 and 1990), Graeme Bate with Henerik Bale (2001) and Xylia Allen (2013) and Reg Kay with Elite State (2003) and Knocka Norris (2008). Paul Cauchi trained Coorparoo Flyer to win in 1975 and although his charge Clover Duke won in 1976, it was technically trained by Charlie Gatt, as Cauchi was under suspension at the time.

Dual Winners

Only the West Australian great, Sandi’s Me Mum, in 1989 and 1990.

Reserve Winners

Metz Magic in 2011. The Queenslander replaced Tonneli Bale in a race which also saw the scratchings of Pedrosa (replaced by Maybe Elite) and Damek, who was unable to compete for Tasmania, and was replaced by Hellyeah Jacko.

Dual Finalists

Benjamin John (fourth in 1968 and 1969), Pied Rebel (second in 1969 and 1970), Coorparoo Flyer (Won 1975, third 1976), Odious (fourth 1975, second 1976), White Panther (third 1979, fourth 1980), Winifred Bale (seventh 1982, Won 1983), Defiant Lea (fourth 1983, eighth 1984), Apache Eye (unplaced 1987 & 1988), Sandi’s Me Mum (Won 1989 & 1990), Mister Britain (unplaced 1989 & 1990), Faithful Hawk (third 1998, seventh 1999), Mallee Rebel (eighth 2000, sixth 2001), Buckingham Chuck (second 2006, seventh 2007), Pedrosa (fourth 2010, scratched 2011), Glen Gallon (sixth 2011, second 2012)

Beaten Stars

Chariot Charm (third 1965), Munich Boy (third 1967), Busy’s Charm (second 1969), Tara Flash (sixth 1971), Shapely Escort (seventh 1971, injured), Woolley Wilson (eighth 1972), Half Your Luck (second 1973), Bristol Sue (second 1974), Ungwilla Lad (eighth 1975), Sole Force (second 1978), Tempix (seventh 1979), Glider’s Son (sixth 1981), Eaglehawk Star (second 1984), Shining Chariot (second 1986), Camden’s Ghost (third 1986), True Vintage (second 1987), See Yah (third 1988), Highly Blessed (third 1990), Hotshot (fourth 1998), Reggemite (fifth 1998), Top Shiraz (fourth 1999), Carlisle Jack (second 2001), Modern Assassin (third 2002), Sun Hero (third 2004), Scull Murphy (fourth 2007), Paw Licking (fourth 2013)

Notes

From its inception in 1965 and until 1973, a series of heats and quarter finals were usually held NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland, with the top point scorers coming to the host state for, usually, a pair of semi-finals. The eight top point scorers through these semi-finals would then go to make up the final field. In 1973, South Australia was added to the contenders, with Western Australia included in 1976.

Since 1977, each state has conducted its own series and sent the winner to contest the final in the host state. The Northern Territory was also included from 1982

In 1980, trainer Ken Howe had the favourite Fast Sapphire engaged in the final, and gave Ernie Rowe, the greyhounds’ former mentor, the honour of walking the greyhound to the 457 metre boxes at Harold Park. Fast Sapphire (box one) scored a brilliant win, and was immediately retired to stud.

In 1981, South Australian bitch Kate’s A Scandal set a new Australian record of 15 successive victories, eclipsing the 14 straight set by Harryed in 1950. In the same race were the NSW pair of Glider’s Son and Peter Glider. It was the first time a major national race had featured litter brothers bred, owned, and trained by the same person, namely John MacDonald.

In 1988, NSW star See Yah ran third to Queensland champion Dancing Gamble while wearing his dog collar. His trainer had forgotten to remove the collar when loading See Yah into the boxes.