State Of Origin – NSW Greyhound Racing’s Top 17

With the deciding game of this year’s State of Origin series this Wednesday night, Australian Racing Greyhound has compiled our own state teams featuring the best of all time from Queensland and New South Wales. As always, a list of this nature draws with it controversy and we the authors acknowledge that an argument can be made for the countless other (greats) who are not listed below. This list represents the New South Wales team and their contribution to Australian greyhound racing; past, present and future.

1. COACH PAUL CAUCHI

Cauchi is a hall of fame inductee and was a leading trainer in NSW during 1971, 1972 and the 1980’s. Cauchi started his training career in 1958 and trained numerous champions including Ragsie, Coorparoo Flyer, Miami Moss, and Pied Rebel just to name a few. Cauchi trained winners of the group one Association Cup and the group one National Sprint Championship amongst a stack of feature wins.

2. COACH ALLEN WHEELER

How could you write a list of the best to come from NSW without mentioning the man that started the Bale dynasty? Although breeding was his forte, Wheeler still managed to train some of the dogs he bred to win group finals and he also took out the Sydney city owners and trainers premiership four times. The legacy of the Wheeler family will live on forever with their line of Bale, Dyna and Allen chasers.

3. Chief Havoc (Trion- Thelma’s Mate) Whelped September 1944

The white and fawn speedster was known in his era as ‘the wonder dog’ and was believed to be the fastest greyhound in the world. Chief Havoc or Patches as he was affectionately known was purchased by Jack Millerd at five weeks of age. Chief Havoc had 36 starts on the track for 26 wins and seven placings. He set or equalled records in races at Harold Park, Wentworth Park, Bathurst , Dubbo, Dapto, Tamworth , Maitland, Wollongong , Gosford, Parkes, Lismore, Casino, Cessnock and Grafton. When in his prime, crowds of 17,000 would flock to Harold Park to witness Chief Havoc race. He was seen as so superior in comparison to his opposition that trainers refused to nominate against him. In the breeding barn Chief Havoc sired 453 litters and became a legendary sire so much so that the first 15 NSW Greyhounds of the year were direct descendants of him. Chief Havoc died in 1957 and was laid to rest at the Gunnedah track.

4. Macareena (Chief Havoc- Casson) Whelped June 1951

After her father Chief Havoc stunned the nation with his sheer speed, Macareena came along and emulated his success- something that no one saw coming. Throughout her career the brindle bitch set the track ablaze, setting a total of 20 track records- one more than Chief Havoc. In a time when handicapped racing was popular, competitors started refusing to nominate their charges against Macareena unless their greyhounds were given a head start against her. Macareena retired with the outstanding credentials of 96 starts for 50 wins and 32 placings.

5. Black Top ( Top Linen- Classy Jane) Whelped February 1961

The great Black Top was bred at Birmingham Gardens, a suburb of Newcastle by Edna Hanson out of Bi-Annual Classic winner Classy Jane. Frank Holmes, the trainer of Classy Jane was given a pup from the litter as thanks for guiding her to victory in the prestigious event. The pup Holmes chose was Black Top. The black pup only raced for twelve months yet managed to record 17 wins and 2 seconds from a mere 20 starts. His most notable wins included the 1962 St Leger (running race record time), the 1962 Vic Peters Classic (in race, track and world record times over 500 yards) and the 1962 Interstate Challenge. Black Top retired to stud and commenced his duties in August 1963. The well-bred dog was a phenomenal sire- mating 1326 bitches, producing 6000 puppies with his progeny winning approximately 10,000 races. The Black Top dynasty was enormous with his offspring claiming countless records and feature races.

6. Zoom Top (Black Top- Busy Beaver) whelped August 1966

The dazzling Zoom Top has to be one of the most versatile chasers of all time. Almost half a century since she was born her legend lives on and she is still commonly referred to as one of the best to ever grace the track. The fawn flash started racing at just fourteen months of age breaking her maiden at Goulburn over 500 yards. Zoom Top was renowned for her ability to adapt to different distances without batting an eyelid. Zoom Top had 136 starts for 68 wins, 25 seconds and 14 thirds. Zoom Top won on 24 different tracks throughout her career, set or equalled 15 track records and won races from 292 metres up to 795 metres. Zoom Top made 17 major finals throughout her career winning eleven of them; Wentworth Park Gold Cup 68, 69 Association Cup 68, 69 Richmond Oaks 68, Dapto Silver Collar 68, Sydney Cup 68, Summer Cup 68, NSW St Leger 68, Olympic Park Distance Championship 69 and NCA Cup at Sandown 69.

7. Promises Free (Temlee- Tara Silk) whelped February 1980

Promises Free, or the Blue Flash as she was known as at the time was a champion bitch owned and bred by Alan Pringle. In 1981 Promises Free took out the NSW St Ledger at Wentworth Park running 30.82 seconds. The 28 kilogram bitch also claimed two major races in 1982. In April she went to Harold Park and won the Bi-Annual Classic before heading back to Wentworth Park in June where she claimed the National Futurity. As a proven group winner, Promises Free was retired to the breeding barn and produced the litter of the century when mated to Brother Fox. Whelped in 1986, it was Promises Free’s fourth litter and included nine male pups that were all retired to stud after their careers. The litter including Amerigo Man, Bogenfel, Carnival Boy, Edmonton, Fortune Bay, Half Nelson, Jet Cruiser, Walkabout Sid and West Cape. These dogs each went on to become influential sires, with their bloodlines pulsing through many of the chasers we see on the track to this day.

8. Winifred Bale (Temlee- Emiline Bale) whelped August 1980

Even the race caller was cheering for Winifred Bale in the 1983 National Sprint Championship at Harold Park, proclaiming ‘Go Winnie Go’ as she stretched out in front of the field. Winifred Bale was owned and trained by Allen Wheeler Jnr and had 81 starts for 41 wins and 28 placings. Winifred Bale helped to put the Wheeler’s on the map, forging a path of greatness for them within the industry. The red fawn and white bitch was the NSW Greyhound of the year in 1982 and 1983 and in the process gave Allen Wheeler his first NSW greyhound of the year which up until that point had eluded him with both Emiline Bale and Mercia Bale nominated but never receiving the top honour. Winifred Bale won feature events across two years; in 1982 she took out the Sandown Laurels and NSW St Leger whilst in 1983 she notched up victory in the Appin Opal, Ladies Bracelet, National Futurity, Richmond Oaks and the National Sprint Championship.

9. National Lass ( Chief Dingaan- Waroo Lass) Whelped September 1982

It is hard to compose a list of the best without including Richie Dean’s terrific bitch National Lass. Owned by Richard Zammitt, the black bitch was the NSW Greyhound of the year in both 1984 and 1985. During her career, National Lass was a sizzling sprinter but later made the transition to the staying trip where she was simply electrifying. Her feature wins included the 1984 Coca Cola Cup at the Gabba and The Sun Toy Fund Cup at Wentworth Park. In 1985 she returned and took out three feature races at Wentworth Park- The Sydney Cup, Summer Cup and a consecutive Sun Toy Fund Cup as well as the Christmas Gift at Richmond. In 1986 she claimed the Wentworth Park Gold Cup. National Lass also broke six track records, one of which was her own at; Gosford 689m (41.20 seconds), Wentworth Park 722m (42.70), Richmond 620m (37.20, 37.03), Richmond 537m (31.24) and Dapto 722m (42.82). National Lass was retired after dropping a back muscle at Wentworth Park but went on to become a fantastic broodbitch with her pup Little Deaver winning the 1991 St Leger and the 1992 National Derby.

10. Brother Fox ( Little Blade- Pitstock Park) whelped February 1983

Brother Fox was without a doubt one of the best dogs not only of his generation, but of all time. The red brindle speed machine only had nineteen starts on the track but that resulted in twelve wins and five placings. The great champ started his career in the Grafton Maiden Classic in 1984 winning his heat before finishing third in the final. Brother Fox went on to notch up victories at Maitland and Singleton before heading to Harold Park to contest the Vic Peters Memorial Classic. Brother Fox was emphatic in the final scoring by five lengths in a track record time of 25.82 seconds. Brother Fox returned to the race track the following year winning the Potential Stakes at Wentworth Park before heading to Tasmania for a crack at the Hobart Thousand. In his heat, Brother Fox not only won but also set a track record of 28.35 seconds. ‘The Fox’ then broke his own track record in the semi-finals (28.21) before taking out the final the following week (28.31). After an unsuccessful Adelaide Cup series, Brother Fox returned to NSW and took out the Vic Peters Bi-Annual Classic (now the Peter Mosman) at Harold Park. This was the last feature win for Brother Fox who was then retired to stud by Steve Kavanagh. Despite having a service fee of $1,000 Brother Fox was inundated with bookings and went on to become a leading sire and sire of sires.

11. Worth Doing ( Brother Fox- Versatile Miss) Whelped November 1986

Anyone who witnessed this speed machine at his best would say Worth Doing is one of the fastest dogs they have seen. The beautiful blue brindle dog claimed two group one’s throughout his career. In October 1988 Worth Doing took out the group one Vic Peters Memorial final in track record time clocking 29.74 seconds. The following February, the son of Brother Fox returned to Wentworth Park and triumphed in the group one National Derby. In the era of grass at Wentworth Park, Worth Doing emerged as a champion after his staggering 20 length win where he smashed the track record running a scintillating 29.50 seconds- a time that in those days was unheard of. Worth Doing was retired to stud and became a champion in the breeding barn as a sire of multiple group winners, many of whom went on to stand at stud and become great producers themselves.

12. Jessica Casey (Amerigo Man- Osti’s Shadow) Whelped Jan 1989

Jessica Casey was a beautifully bred bitch who was destined to be a star on the race track. The blue brindle speedster raced in an era dominated by tenacious and champion chasers and proved herself worthy of being compared to them. Jessica Casey was the NCA NSW 1991 Greyhound of the year, crowned after her stunning performance in the 1991 National Sprint Championship whilst she also took out the 1992 Golden Easter Egg.

13. Rapid Journey ( Amerigo Magic- Miss Courtney) Whelped May 1995

Rapid Journey is often thought to be the best dog of the 90’s. Bred in NSW by John and Jane Curruthers, the red brindle powerhouse did not have the most fashionable bloodlines but he certainly possessed the heart to make up for it. Rapid Journey did not set the world on fire when he first started his career and spent his early days racing around local country tracks. As he matured he developed into a handy city dog before blossoming into a champion. Rapid Journey retired with the career statistics of 54 starts for 33 wins, 6 seconds and 5 thirds. Included in those wins were track records at Wentworth Park (520), Dubbo (516), Cannington( 530) and Beenleigh(555). Rapid Journey took out the 1998 Adelaide Cup, 1998 Golden Easter Egg, 1998 Perth Cup, 1998 National Sprint Championship, 1998 Melbourne Cup and the 1998 Topgun. When claiming the Topgun Rapid Journey became Australia’s Highest Stakes Earning greyhound with $530,995 in the bank.

14. Mint Magic (New Fox- Franklin Mint) Whelped May 1997

Ray Watson’s Mint Magic was a brilliant chaser of her time facing the starter on 37 occasions from which she managed 25 wins and 6 placings. The red brindle bitch started her career racing around the Hunter Valley, breaking her maiden at Singleton before moving on to Cessnock and Maitland. Throughout her career, Mint Magic took out the group two Border Park Galaxy over two consecutive years in 1999 and 2000 whilst she also emulated her sire New Fox when taking out the group one Topgun at The Meadows. The 29 kilogram bitch held track records on the grass at Maitland 457m (25.33) and Singleton 384m (21.05).

15. Paua To Burn (Awesome Assassin- Alice Dooley) Whelped July 2002

The great Paua To Burn was bred, owned and trained by Steve White. White raced her dam and her grand dam, with Alice Dooley producing some handy city winners and record breakers from her first three litters to Light Of Fire, Awesome Assassin and Elle’s Commando however it was her fourth litter, a repeat mating to Awesome Assassin that a superstar of the track was born. Paua To Burn had 58 starts from which she notched up 28 wins and 13 minors. The black and white bitch made 17 group race finals and took out her fair share including the 2004 Laurels, 2004 & 2005 Sapphire Crown Classic, 2005 Golden Easter Egg, 2005 Temlee, 2006 New Year’s Cup and the 2006 Rookie Rebel. Paua To Burn also set five scorching track records throughout her career; Nowra 520m (29.98), Bulli 472m (26.02), Sandown 515m (29.41), The Meadows 600m (34.09) and Wentworth Park 520m (29.51)

16. Cindeen Shelby (Bombastic Shiraz- Proper Shelby) Whelped August 2006

Cindeen Shelby was bred by Deen Parkinson and owned by Ray Parkinson. The red fawn bitch started her career racing at the Gardens, Maitland, Gosford and Wentworth Park before claiming her first group final, the 2008 group two Young Stars Classic at start fifteen. This was the start of a fantastic career for Cindeen Shelby who was later transferred to Kel Greenough’s Victorian kennel. Greenough steered her to victory in the 2009 group one Topgun, 2009 group one Paws of Thunder, 2009 group one Sapphire Classic and the 2009 group two black top. By the time she retired in 2010 Cindeen Shelby had won 32 of her 55 starts with 9 seconds and 3 thirds and over $443,000 in prizemoney.

17. Black Magic Opal (Magic Sprite- Glamorous Opal) May 2011

A good list would not be complete without a greyhound representing the present and future. Bred by Les and Carol Hudson on the Central Coast of NSW, Black Magic Opal may not have a shelf full of trophies from group wins yet, but he looks set to be the next star of the sport. So far the black dog has claimed one group race, the group two Maitland Gold Cup before being sold to Victoria. A NSW pup at heart, Black Magic Opal has won 19 of his 24 starts with 4 minor placings and despite his tender young age, he looks as if he can conquer the group racing scene in Australia and potentially become one of the greats.