Top Linen: A String Of Track Records

In a career spanning a mere 14 months, Top Linen proved himself to be one of the fastest sprinters of his time, setting or equalling track records at the Bradman-like rate of one every two and a half starts.

A white and brindle dog by Fine Linen out of Brenda Gay, Top Linen was whelped in May 1955. Owned by Doug Hobden and trained throughout his career by Bob Cann, Top Linen began racing by winning his maiden over 320 yards (293 metres) up the Richmond straight on 30 March 1957. Dawn box two in a 10-dog field, Top Linen bolted away to score by five lengths in 16.5, the equal fastest of the day.

At his next six starts Top Linen scored twice and finished second on three occasions, including his first city start, over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park.

Top Linen burst into notice on 1 June when he took out the 410 yards (375 metres) Championship, run up the Richmond straight. He scored by six lengths and ran 21.0, just 1/10th outside the track record. It was a portent of things to come.

Two weeks later, Top Linen returned to Richmond and defeated Jimmy Jewel by three-quarters of a length with 1957 Bi-Annual Classic (now the Peter Mosman Memorial) winner Fine Earl three lengths away third. His time of 20.9 set new figures for the 410 yards trip.

On 29 June, Top Linen exited last out of box six in a 10-dog field over 500 yards for his second start at Harold Park, but finished well to run a three-lengths fourth behind Logan River.

After a third placing at Muswellbrook, Top Linen returned to Harold Park on 20 July. From box nine he began well and was up running fourth into the first bend. Sweeping off the circle he sped to the lead and raced away to score by eight lengths in 26.65, the best time of the night.

Two weeks later he was graded into an Invitation Stake (made up of the best greyhounds nominated, at the discretion of the grader) at Harold Park. From box five he was last away but had moved to fifth by the first bend. Top Linen charged to the front halfway down the long home straight and careered away to defeat Red Namoi (later a 1957 Melbourne Cup finalist) by three and a half lengths. Top Linen stopped the clock at 26.50, equalling the track and world record for 500 yards. This time had been set in October 1948 by China Lady and equalled by the great Macareena in 1953 and twice in 1954 by Plunkett’s Pride (who had been beaten a neck into third place in the 1954 Bi-Annual Classic).

Top Linen returned to Harold Park on 29 August and scored a comprehensive victory, again defeating Red Namoi. Heavy rain had made the track slow but his time of 26.76 was the best of the night.

After a short break he was once again back at Harold Park, on 6 October, but was beaten a head by the very smart Magic Babe in a fast 26.61.

That race proved to be his last for almost five months.

Top Linen resumed on 22 February 1958 in an Invitation Stake at Harold Park. It was a tough ask to get him to be at his top for his first race in almost 20 weeks, and he was beaten a length and a half into third place by Magic Babe and the brilliant Montana Jet.

Magic Babe had run second in the 1957 Victorian Guineas and would go on to finish second to the champion Rookie Rebel in the inaugural Australian Cup just over a month later. Montana Jet had run second to Rookie Rebel in the 1957 Melbourne Cup and would go on to win the Vic Peters Memorial Classic later in the year.

Top Linen returned to the winning list on 15 March, winning up the straight over 330 yards (301 metres) at Wyong and then winning over 440 yards (402 metres) at Maitland four days later.

He next proved himself the best drag lure greyhound in the country by annexing the 410 yards Championship at Wyong, winning by three lengths in 21.1 to equal the track record.

Top Linen made it two track records in a row when he sped over the Maitland 440 yards course on 26 March to win by eight lengths and equal the track mark of 23.4.

After scoring up the straight at Richmond, Top Linen made his long-awaited return to Harold Park. In pouring rain he exited box one and raced away to win by six lengths in 26.73, the best time of the night.

Drawn in his first Harold Park Stake (top grade only) on 30 April, Top Linen scored by two and a half lengths and stopped the clock at 26.40, a new track and world record. This time standard stood for seven years.

On 2 May Top Linen won by three lengths over 440 yards at Maitland and ran 23.3 to equal the new course record.

Ten days later he contested what would be the longest race of his career, over 525 yards (480 metres) at Cessnock, winning by eight lengths in 27.9, a new track record.

With five track records from his past seven starts, Top Linen was regarded as the best greyhound in NSW. Victorians believed Rookie Rebel was their best and so a match race was arranged to decide which was indeed the best.

Arrangements were quickly finalised and it was intended that two match races would be run. The first would be over 500 yards at Harold Park, with the second over 675 yards (617 metres) at North Melbourne.

The two champions met in battle at Harold Park on 31 May. Top Linen exited box two and in a devastating display of sheer speed he led all the way to defeat Rookie Rebel by six lengths. Once more he ran 26.40, thereby equalling his own track and world record.

Unfortunately, just over a week later, Rookie Rebel broke two toes in running second over 675 yards at North Melbourne and was retired.

With nothing left to achieve, Top Linen was also retired to what would prove a brilliant stud career.

Top Linen raced 26 times for 18 wins, four seconds, and two thirds. He won his last 10 starts in succession and had set or equalled seven track records on five circuits.

Among his most notable progeny were Black Top, Keen Linen, Blue Autumn, Good Nip, Old Tops, and Goldent.