Clash Of The Interstate Stars: The 1969 Silver Chief Classic

THE Silver Chief Classic was just in its fifth year when the Stan Cleverley-trained NSW speed star Milimsimbi came down to Olympic Park tasked with annexing Melbourne’s premier age event for male greyhounds. On paper he looked to be the one to beat, having raced nine times for six wins and two unlucky seconds.

A month prior to the Silver Chief semi-finals, Cleverley lived up to his surname, bringing Milimsimbi to Olympic Park for a look at the circuit. The Black Top x Tamerine speedster, having his first run on sand, scored a narrow half-length win, but that experience would stand him in good stead when the semi-finals of the Silver Chief Classic were run over the 560 yards trip on 21 July.

The only greyhound who looked to be standing in Milimsimbi’s way was a maiden-class fawn dog named Plunder Road, by Nulla View x Glenda Gale. Bred and owned by Rod Deakin, a major force in the breeding industry in Victoria, Plunder Road had impressed in his qualifying heat for the Silver Chief, scoring by 10 lengths from the awkward box six alley.

Milimsimbi drew perfectly in box one for his semi-final and the black streak gave nothing else a chance, leading all the way to score by nine lengths in a fast 30. 14/16.

Plunder Road drew box three for his semi-final, began well, and after settling in second position he scooted to the lead in the back straight and came away to defeat Dark Shan by four and a half lengths. His time of 30. 13/16 was the best of the night.

Plunder Road drew box one for the final and Milimsimbi box eight. At his only previous start wearing the pink rug, Milimsimbi had equalled the track record over 450 yards at Cessnock, in May.

Punters rallied to the hometown star and Plunder Road went to the boxes as a 4/5 ($1.80) favourite to collect the $2,700 first prize money. At box rise Plunder Road flew out and went straight to the lead. Milimsimbi was unusually slow to begin and lost all chance at the first bend when Native Stone ran out and collided with him. While Plunder Road skipped away with a big lead, Milimsimbi was left to regain his balance and set off in pursuit. At the half-way mark Milimsimbi was seven lengths adrift of Plunder Road. Although he finished the race off strongly, Milimsimbi had to settle for second place, beaten five lengths by the Victorian sprinter who ran a sensational 30. 7/16, just 6/16ths outside the track record held by Fawn Nulla.

The pair would meet again on the racetrack, in Sydney, in the final of the Vic Peters Memorial Classic, run over 500 yards at Harold Park. On that occasion, Milimsimbi avenged his Silver Chief Classic defeat, relegating Plunder Road to third place, albeit beaten only a length.

Milimsimbi returned to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup series in November, winning his semi-final and the final. Plunder Road also contested the series, but missed out when second in his semi-final. On Melbourne Cup final night he showed what a force he might have been in the big race, scoring by nine lengths in fast time.

Both Plunder Road and Milimsimbi would go on to stellar careers at stud after they both broke down and their careers were ended prematurely.

Plunder Road was especially potent with stayers, siring Allocate (won 1973 Summer Cup and Christmas Gift), Statistician (won 1986 Canberra Cup, second 1985 Summer Cup), Corcoran (won 1974 National Distance Championship and Sandown Cup), and Plunderola (won 1973 Association Cup and Gabba Thousand). Other stars included Bahdavid (Australian Cup finalist), Warranwood Girl (won 1975 Maturity Classic), Fountain Hall (Australian and Darwin Cup finalist), Arunga Road (won 1974 South Australian Sprint Championship), Crete (won 1973 Laurels Classic), and Rustic Road (Melbourne Cup finalist).

Milimsimbi’s most famous progeny was the great Queensland champion Top Simbi. He also sired Armatree’s Idol (third 1974 Summer Cup), Kooloonatoo (1974 National Deby finalist), The Aegir (won 1975 Metropolitan Cup at Wentworth Park), Power Raider (NSW St Leger and Wentworth Park Gold Cup finalist), and Milmside (Maturity Classic finalist).