FORMER NSW sprinter Lansley Bale might have hated Wentworth Park, but the red fawn dog by Farloe Melody out of Carmel Bale certainly knew his way around the country circuit in Victoria, collecting cups like they were confetti during a career which stretched across 51 starts between 1997 and 1998.
For the Paul Wheeler-bred sprinter it was the 1997 Cranbourne Cup series which propelled him into national prominence, and his success in that event would be replicated in a series of spectacular victories across Victoria in the early months of 1998 that would see him equal former country star Tempix in terms of country cup victories.
When entered for the 1997 Cranbourne Cup series, which took place in November, Lansley Bale possessed a reasonable record of 27 starts for 11 wins, seven seconds and four thirds.
He had begun his career in NSW, specifically having his first nine starts over the 472 metres trip at Bulli, winning his first two by 10 lengths apiece. Two more wins and three placings followed before he was given his first test at Wentworth Park, coming second over the 520 metres trip. In four subsequent starts at the Sydney headquarters he would finish seventh once and last three times. This was not a track Lansley Bale liked.
Brought to the Graeme Bate kennels in Victoria, Lansley Bale won his first start at Sandown Park by nine lengths, in July, and then reeled off a further four wins and two placings at Sandown (and once at Geelong) before being sent north to contest the Brisbane Cup.
He acquitted himself well at Albion Park, running second in his heat to Bounding Fox before a narrow third behind Barrio Babe and Roanokee in the final, beaten less than a length.
Lansley Bale then contested the Geelong Cup series, making the final with a strong win in his heat. Despite the advantage of box one he was oustped by Power Zone in the final, finally crossing the line just under six lengths behind that greyhound and Macorna Lad. Power Zone ran the 457 metres in 25.37, a new track record.
Further placings at Sandown followed, but Lansley Bale returned to the winning list on 3 November when he defeated Pezza’s Tiger and Mepunga Streak in the Silver Bullet at Sandown.
This was the perfect tune-up for the Cranbourne Cup heats, held just four days later.
The first heat of the 520-metre Cup fell to Devil May Care who downed Murph’s Best with the highly favoured Moonambel Gem only fourth.
The second heat also sprung a little surprise when Silent Tribute narrowly defeated the brilliant Awesome Assassin.
Lansley Bale was sent out a $2.00 favourite for his heat and gave nothing else a chance, exploding out of box eight to lead all the way and score by 10 lengths from Windward Lad with the smart Sound The Alarm third.
Imposing Talent defeated Don’t Panic and Shannen’s Storm to win the fourth heat while Melt Down overcame Talent Express in the fifth heat.
Bounding Fox picked up the sixth heat while Mepunga Streak staked its place in the final by taking out the seventh and last heat, a roughly run affair that saw two greyhounds fall.
Lansley Bale’s time of 30.53 was the equal best of the night, shared with Silent Tribute.
The box draw for the final determined who would start favourite, with Lansley Bale coming up with the two alley and Silent Tribute box six. Awesome Assassin was well-served in box eight while the rest were considered to face a tough task ahead.
On 14 November Lansley Bale went into the boxes a $2.50 favourite and when the lids flew back punters were on good terms with themselves as he began well and settled in second position, just adrift of Mepunga Streak (box 7).
Lansley Bale trailed Mepunga Streak until well into the home straight before finally overwhelming him in the last few strides to score by three-quarters of a length and claim the $20,000 first prize money. Awesome Assassin was a well beaten four-and-a-half lengths away third.
After the Cranbourne Cup victory, Lansley Bale went on to run second in the Melbourne Cup and made the final of the Silver Chief Classic before taking out the 1998 Bendigo Cup (exacting a narrow revenge on his Geelong Cup conqueror Power Zone), Ballarat Cup, and Horsham Cup (in race record time).
That trio of victories, added to his Cranbourne Cup success, meant Lansley Bale had equalled the record of four country cup victories, set by Tempix in 1980 when that marvelous sprinter annexed the Geelong, Warragul, Horsham, and Warrnambool Cup’s.
Notably, his heat and final victories at Cranbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat and Horsham were the only occasions he raced at those four tracks. To race collectively eight times on those four tracks for eight wins is probably unique in racing history.
Lansley Bale finished his career with 26 wins, eight seconds and five thirds and around $113,000.