Silver Chief Classic has been breeding ground for stars

The Silver Chief Classic was first inaugurated in Melbourne in 1964 and was meant to rival the National Derby, the age classic begun by the National Coursing Association a year earlier.

Over the course of its history it has occasionally been argued that the Silver Chief Classic has produced far more future champions of the sport than its NSW rival, a contentious point of course, but one that has merit.

Certainly one of the earliest stars unearthed by the Silver Chief was the Rod Deakin-bred and owned fawn dog Plunder Road (Nulla View x Glenda Gale).

Whelped in January 1968, Plunder Road showed precocious talent early on and Deakin earmarked the sixth edition of the Silver Chief Classic, then run over 560 yards (511 metres) at Olympic Park, as the greyhound’s initial outing.

It would prove to be a smart decision, just the kind of action which had netted, and would net, Deakin plenty of major race silverware across his long career as a breeder, owner and, occasional, trainer.

The heats for the 1969 Silver Chief Classic were held on July 21 and Plunder Road drew box three for his maiden assignment. Showing plenty of early dash, Plunder Road impressed onlookers with a comprehensive four and a half lengths victory in 30.13/16, the fastest time of the night.

Plunder Road drew perfectly in box one for the final, with only the NSW sprint sensation Milimsimbi (in box eight) considered capable of beating him. Milimsimbi had won his heat by nine lengths in 30.14/16 to take his record to seven wins and two seconds from just 10 career starts.

Plunder Road, as expected, jumped perfectly in the Silver Chief Classic final while Milimsimbi was slow to begin and lost all chance at the first turn when Native Stone ran off and collided with him.

At the halfway mark, Plunder Road led clearly, while Milimsimbi held fourth position, about seven lengths adrift of the leader. In the home straight, Plunder Road kept going and went on to score by three and a half lengths from the solidly-finishing Milimsimbi. Plunder Road ran a fast 30.7/16 and earned $2,700 for connections.

The Silver Chief would be the only time Plunder Road drew box one in his short career.

At his next start, at Sandown Park, Plunder Road was beaten into third place and was then spelled by Deakin.

He resumed in Sydney, contesting a semi-final of the Vic Peters Memorial Classic, run over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park, on October 25. He won that semi-final, by four lengths from box eight, but Silver Chief runner-up Milimsimbi turned the tables in the final, beating him by a length into third place, the pair split by Silent Retreat.

After a second placing at Sandown in his return to Melbourne, Plunder Road reeled off four successive victories, at Sandown and Olympic Park as well as a semi-final of the NSW St Leger (now the Paws of Thunder) over 580 yards (530 metres) at Wentworth Park.

In the St Leger final, Plunder Road could only finish sixth behind rank outsider Beau Brin, who downed star sprinter The Smoother and Queenslander Pied Rebel.

Deakin took Plunder Road to Tasmania to start 1970, aiming at the Hobart Thousand. The fawn dog won over 540 yards at Hobart on January 3 by 10 lengths and a week later downed local star Summer Idol by four lengths.

Plunder Road won his heat of the Hobart Thousand on January 24 by six lengths but only scored by a head from Lots Of Sound in his semi-final.

Drawn well in box eight for the Hobart Thousand final, Plunder Road collected $3,000 when he downed Mounthall Vista by just over a length to pick up his second major race victory in 16 career starts.

Back in Victoria, Plunder Road was set for the Australian Cup at Olympic Park, but could only finish third in his semi-final to Eagle Flash. On Australian Cup final night, Plunder Road defeated the future National Sprint Championship winner Regal Hermes by a length.

Another win followed, at Sandown, before Plunder Road was again back in Sydney, in quest of the Vic Peters Bi-Annual Classic (now Peter Mosman Memorial). However he finished a well beaten 16 lengths third behind the flying Gemini Todd in his semi-final on March 21, but received an injury and would not race again for 10 months.

Plunder Road returned to racing in Hobart on January 28 1971 in a heat of the Hobart Thousand. From box five he showed he was back to close to his best, scoring by three and a half lengths.

The semi-finals were held just two days later, but Plunder Road made light work of his opponents, streaking home eight lengths clear and thereby making it seven starts at Hobart for seven wins.

That was the end of the fairytale comeback. Drawn well in box two for the final, Plunder Road could only finish sixth behind local star Trion Scout.

Back in Melbourne he raced twice at Olympic Park in February, running a two lengths third to champion sprinter Black Diro in the first race and a five lengths second behind Which Opal in the second race.

A further spell followed and on April 19 he resumed in a heat of the Olympic Park Sprint Championship, winning from box four. Despite drawing well in box eight for the final, he was no match for Black Diro and finished fifth, beaten 10 lengths.

After the race he was found to be injured again and so Deakin decided to retire Plunder Road and send him to stud.

All told he had raced just 27 times for 17 wins, two seconds and five thirds. His average winning margin was 4.8 lengths, a clear indication of his abilities.

At stud he proved a sensation, producing the likes of Bahdavid, Warranwood Girl, Rustic Road, Fountain Hall, Allocate, Arunga Road, Corcoran, Crete, Bolta, and Plunderola, all feature race winners or finalists.