Vince Curry dead heat a rarity in Australian greyhound racing

THE amazing dead-heat between kennelmates Split Image (box 4) and Paua To Avoid (box 8) in the final of the Group 2 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden (520m) at Ipswich brings to mind the fact that dead-heats in major races are quite a rarity, even during the pre-photo-finish camera days of the sport.

Indeed, since the start of the group racing era in 1995, the Vince Curry is only the third time a race with group status at the time has ended in a dead-heat for first.

The first dead-heat in a Group race did not come until the eighth year of the Group calendar, in the 2003 Australian Cup. That race ended with the Graeme Bate-trained Blackjack Tom (box 3) sharing the winners dias with NSW contender Most Awesome (box 8), trained by Max Burdekin.

The second occasion was the 2007 West End Draught Distance Championship, run at Angle Park, when local hope Miss Columbia and NSW star Miss Grub could not be separated by the judge. John McMillan trained Miss Columbia, while Victorian conditioner Kel Greenough was in charge of the former NSW stayer. The West End Draught Distance Championship sadly no longer enjoys group status.

There have also been dead-heats in seven races which now have group status, but didn’t when the dead-heats took place, either because group racing didn’t exist (pre-1995) or the event had not yet been raised to group status.

The first of these was the 1942 top-grade final of the Launceston Cup, which was shared between All Dixie and Shirarch.

The second was the 1963 Vic Peters Memorial Classic final over 500 yards at Harold Park, which saw the Joe Power-prepared Seraphino (box 3) share first prize money of £1,100 ($2,200) with Bob Cann’s Test Pattern (box 8).

The 1977 Darwin Cup finished in a dead-heat between Quiet Hobo and track specialist Reenatak.

In 1984, the Richmond Derby photo-finish showed Bindall’s Hope (box 3) and Creamy Koko (box 8) splitting the trophy.

The 1992 Traralgon Cup saw Tough As Tears (box 1) share the winner’s spoils with the Carl Haas-trained Worth Backing (box 8).

In 1993 the invitation-only Topgun was introduced with great fanfare to the racing calendar. That inaugural running produced an incredible finish over 511 metres on a wet track at Sandown Park with the Kevin Mugavin-trained Golden Currency (box 4) dividing the race with the Carl Haas-trained Worth Backing (box 1).

Worth Backing is the only greyhound in Australian history to have dead-heated for first on two occasions in a major race.

The last of the seven current group races to have a dead-heat was the 1995 Canberra Cup which saw Victorian sprinter Sandy Honcho (box 6) dead-heat with local Scholar’s Mate (box 8).

Some other major races which have seen dead-heat for first results include the 1963 Lawnton Memorial Cup, run over 437 yards, which fell jointly to NSW sprinter Toeaway and Aqualoo’s Choice. In 1977, Rebel Attack and Hilda’s Girl dead-heated for first in the race, making it the only major event to have two dead-heat results in its history.

The 1972 Tamworth Gold Cup was shared between Topini Fire and Dashing Danny, the latter being only the second locally-trained winner of the event.

In 1973, the Maitland Skippa Cup (684m) saw Tomray Moss and Speedy Clogs share the first prize money while in 2013, the Capalaba Cup was divided between Are They Now (trained by Peter Ruetschi) and Veno (trained by John Adams).

So, the above covers dead-heats in just 15 major races across Australia. That represents a very small percentage when one considers just how many major races have been conducted over the last nine decades.

Note: Although I only have box draw positions for eight of the 15 races, it’s amazing to see box 8 features in no less than seven of he dead-heats and box 3 in four.