HE would be the veteran of 107 starts at a time when it was unusual for top-flight greyhounds to compete so often, but Fair Sentence (Bright Judge x Alsvider Apr ’87) first came to real prominence when he annexed the 1989 Geelong Cup straight after taking out the Anniversary Trophy at Olympic Park.
A black dog, Fair Sentence would have a special affinity with the Geelong track during a career which began in January 1989 and ended 34 months later, in October 1991.
Trained by Graeme Bate, Fair Sentence commenced his career with a fifth over 424m at Warragul on January 31, 1989, but a week later at the same course he drew well in box one and broke his maiden status with an eight lengths success.
His next 11 starts were hardly inspiring as Fair Sentence managed to win over 513m at Traralgon and first-up by seven lengths over 457m at Geelong but was unplaced in seven of the other nine races on tracks such as Warragul, Sandown Park, Olympic Park and even Tweed Heads where he went to compete in the Galaxy.
Yet on his return Fair Sentence hit his straps and would not be unplaced for his next 23 consecutive races. Second placings at Geelong and Sandown were followed by wins at Olympic Park and Cranbourne and then four more placings at Cranbourne, Olympic Park and Shepparton.
After winning by four lengths first-up over 450m at Ballarat on August 2, Bate stepped Fair Sentence up in class and set him for the prestigious Anniversary Trophy at Olympic Park five days later.
In his heat, Fair Sentence was beaten a half head by the smart Benito’s Boy but after drawing perfectly in box one for the August 14 final, Fair Sentence was sent out favourite and simply romped away from his rivals to score by 12 lengths.
Maintaining his form, Fair Sentence won a graded race at Geelong by eight and a half lengths on August 25 and then breezed into the Geelong Cup final by winning his heat by five lengths from Barbariot in a best of the night 26.18.
Drawn box seven in the Geelong Cup final on September 8, Fair Sentence made no mistake and went to the line almost three lengths clear of Elusive Action in 26.24.
Contesting the heats of the National Sprint Championship Victoria, Fair Sentence was only third in his heat but drew well in box two for the final and was made favourite, but could only run second behind 33/1 ($34) outsider Davey.
Three more placings followed, including a well-beaten second behind the sensational Spread Eagled in the final of the Olympic Park Sprint Championship on October 9 before Fair Sentence again found the line as a winner, at his much-loved Geelong.
After running second in a heat of the 440m Shepparton Cup, Fair Sentence won a consolation trophy at that track on final night and then scored by seven lengths out of box one at Cranbourne.
He could finish only fourth at his next outing, at Geelong, but then bounced back with four straight wins. The first of these was by seven lengths at Horsham and Bate then entered him for the Melbourne Cup series where Fair Sentence won his heat by five and a half lengths in a best of the night 30.34 and returned to take the Melbourne Cup final by three lengths from The Earbrander on November 30 in a best of the night 30.19, leading all the way from box one.
Graeme Bate considered Fair Sentence might make a decent stayer and the black dog passed his first test with a four and a half lengths victory over 600m at Olympic Park on December 11.
After a fourth in the Anniversary Trophy (best 8) at Ballarat, Fair Sentence closed out 1989 with a win in top grade over 511m at Sandown Park. This took his racing record to 18 wins, 11 seconds and four thirds from just 41 starts and his consistency was such that he was named 1989 Victorian Greyhound of the Year.
Fair Sentence began 1990 with a win at Sandown and a win in a heat of the Cranbourne Cup on January 13 before finishing seventh behind Spread Eagled in the final.
Two more unplaced runs followed before Bate decided to test Fair Sentence as a stayer. Contesting a 732m handicap at Olympic Park on February 19, Fair Sentence looked the goods as he cruised away to score by five lengths.
Set for the National Distance Championship, Fair Sentence won his Victorian State Final heat on March 13 at Olympic Park by just half a head and then tailed the field behind Clean Machine in the final. It was his last attempt at a distance career.
His next 10 starts resulted in just two victories (one being the Hoteliers Plate at Horsham) and four placings as well as a sixth in the Cranbourne Easter Cup final and a fourth behind Spread Eagled in the Anniversary Trophy at Olympic Park.
At his next 15 outings Fair Sentence recorded five wins, at Ballarat, Geelong, Sandown and Shepparton and seven placings, including a second in a Shepparton Cup heat (behind The Earbrander) and second behind Hard Rain in a Shepparton Cup Consolation.
Fair Sentence ended 1990 with a single victory at Geelong and the black dog completed that 12-month period having only won 11 of his 34 starts (11 placings), a far cry from his glory days of 1989.
Fair Sentence would not win again until March 30 when he took out a heat of the Horsham Easter Cup before running sixth behind Rare Drop in the final just two days later.
As Fair Sentence rolled on towards the end of his long career he scored victories in top grade events at Ballarat (seven), Bendigo (twice) and Geelong (twice) before he ran his last race on October 16, 1991, finishing third over 450m at Ballarat.
Fair Sentence finished his career having started 107 times and notching 41 wins, 21 seconds and 11 thirds, earning $86,580 in prize money. As all good greyhounds do, Fair Sentence possessed an admirable record out of box one, winning six of 10 starts and running second in the other four. He also won seven of nine starts from box eight (one second).
At Geelong he had raced 16 times over 457m for 10 wins, one second and two thirds while at Ballarat he registered nine wins, five seconds and three thirds from 20 starts over 450m. His city record was only average with Fair Sentence only scoring 10 wins at either Olympic Park or Sandown Park from 39 starts (12 placings).