This Week In Racing History

DECEMBER

24th

The Harold Park (Epping) racecourse introduced a 660 yards (603 metres) distance in 1927, seven months after the start of greyhound racing behind a lure in Australia.

The newly remodelled Newcastle greyhound track opened in 1953. The mighty bitch Macareena was among the winners at this inaugural meeting.

Acacia Park won the 1983 Christmas Gift, run over 457 metres at Harold Park, defeating World Wizzer and Don’s Dasher in a race record 26.17.

The 1994 Christmas Gift final, run over 520 metres at Wentworth Park, fell to Austwide who defeated On The Payroll by a neck in 30.48.

25th

Christmas Day. No racing ever takes place.

26th

Having his first look at the Wentworth Park circuit, Chief Havoc won the 1946 Sprint Championship, a best-eight event, over 550 yards (503 metres) by four lengths in a new track record time of 30.1.

Billed as ‘The Match Race of the Century’, Mint Magic (NSW), Great Wish (V), Stately Bird (NSW), and Faithful Hawk (Q), lined up against each other over 520 metres at Wentworth Park in 1999. Mint Magic stumbled just after the start, but then went fast to lead Faithful Hawk at the first turn, with Stately Bird third and Great Wish last. Great Wish clipped the heels of Stately Bird and lost ground. Mint Magic led by two lengths and clocked 13.88 for the second section. Great Wish was eight lengths from the lead. On the back turn Mint Magic cramped in the hindquarters and was joined by Faithful Hawk. They collided on the circle and Stately Bird ran into them. Great Wish took the split and raced away to score by five and a half lengths from Faithful Hawk, Stately Bird and Mint Magic in 30.46. Great Wish earned $10,000 for the win; the others $1,000 each.

27th

Pride Of Cork won the inaugural running of the Christmas Gift, in 1969. Conducted over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park, Pride Of Cork downed Fire Lane and Regal Valley in a fair 26.8. Among the unplaced division was former Queensland star Pied Rebel.

On the same night, the Christmas Gift for stayers was taken out by Real Early who ran 44.0 to defeat Tricia Miss and Nateeka over 800 yards (732 metres).

The last running of the Christmas Gift at Harold Park took place in 1986. Tom’s Two downed Hollymount Star in 26.35.

Black Caleb scored by a neck over Classic Capri in the 2001 Hobart Thousand, running a new race record time of 25.75 for the 457 metres.

28th

Erin’s Ace became the highest stakes-winning greyhound to that time when he won a Harold Park Stake (First Grade) over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park in 1949. He ran 26.7, just 2/10ths outside the track record, to defeat Glynn Occa and China Lady (the track record holder). Erin’s Ace took his earnings to £2,530 ($5,060) to surpass the previous prize money record of £2,508 ($5,016) held by Young Sign. Erin’s Ace was immediately retired to stud.

29th

Commer took out the 1934 Melbourne Cup, run over 400 yards (366 metres) at Napier Park. Commer downed Desert Brigand by a length in 21.1/16 in the six-dog field, earning £200 ($400).

30th

Up And Away won the Laurels Classic over 515 metres at Sandown in 2010, the second time it had been run over that distance on that track. The Graeme Bate-trained bitch scored by a nose over Kalden Athena to notch her eighth consecutive win. The Laurels had traditionally been run in June or July and C’Est La Vie had taken out the version run in June 2010. This second running allowed Sandown to re-schedule the event for December.