Remember when: Tenthill Doll won the Golden Easter Egg

Quidame 2006

THE measure of a champion is its ability to overcome adversity in the run and to also be able to win from even the worst box draws. Equally, a champion should be able to use a favourable draw to full advantage to really showcase its talents.

In the case of former champion sprinter Tenthill Doll (Malawi’s Prince x Tenthill Flyer) that’s exactly what she did in a career that commenced in the back blocks of Queensland and took her to two consecutive NSW Greyhound of the Year awards.

A black bitch whelped in March 1993, Tenthill Doll was owned and bred by Merve Laffey and originally trained by Jim Gallaway. She began racing at Toowoomba over 457 metres on October 30, 1994 and scored a good first-up victory. She raced twice more at Toowoomba, running second and then sixth before being put out until January 1995.

Drawing box one for the first of 12 times in her career, Tenthill Doll won by an easy six lengths over 457 metres at the Gold Coast. She was then placed in two races at Lawnton, finished fourth at Toowoomba and then returned to the Gold Coast for a win and a third.On April 10, the black bitch had her first city start, a 520 metres race at Albion Park.

From box one she was beaten six lengths into second place by Logacia Princess in 30.40 (best).It was her next three outings that brought her to prominence. She drew box one again, this time over 457 metres at Toowoomba, and won by five lengths, then scored by a half head over 557 metres at the same course before going over 600 metres at Albion Park and winning by three-quarters of a length in 35.21, a new class record.

After this race she was sold to Ray Richards and Mathew Valenti for $20,000 and entered the New South Wales kennels of noted mentor Harry Sarkis. Her first start for the new combination took place over 520 metres at Wentworth Park on June 3, 1995. She finished only third and repeated the effort a week later. Then, on June 19, she served notice of her ability with a sensational 30.02 victory, scoring by 12 lengths.She won four and ran second in three of her next seven starts, all at Wentworth Park before returning to Queensland and Albion Park for the Eukanuba Cup over 520 metres.

Here she ran into the mighty sprinter Flying Amy. The Queensland champion beat her by three and a half lengths in the Eukanuba Cup heat and then scored a brilliant win in the final with Tenthill Doll coming home third.Two wins followed at Wentworth Park before an unplaced run at Albion Park, only the second for Tenthill Doll in the year. After the Albion Park race she found to be injured and didn’t race again for six weeks.

Taken to Sandown Park to prepare for the up-coming Melbourne Cup series, Tenthill Doll was beaten by the classy Rapid Hiker but then went back to Wentworth Park and finally had some revenge on Flying Amy, beating her into third place and running 30.07.Tenthill Doll won her heat and semi-final of the Melbourne Cup in 29.92 (best) and 29.85 before being beaten a head by City Blitz in the Group One final.

Back to Albion Park and Tenthill Doll qualified for the Nutrience Christmas Cup final with a four lengths heat win. However, once again Flying Amy spoiled the party, relegating the Doll into third position in the Cup final.Tenthill Doll set the seal on a good year by racing at Wentworth Park on December 30 and became the first greyhound to break 30 seconds for 520 metres, smashing the track record with a 29.97 demolition in winning the Penthouse Cup (Best 8).

Tenthill Doll had raced 33 times in 1995 for 17 wins, eight seconds and six thirds, being unplaced just twice. The former Queenslander was named as the 1995 New South Wales Greyhound of the Year for her outstanding efforts.The champion’s first assignment for 1996 was the Group One Adelaide Cup over 512 metres at Angle Park. Tenthill Doll scored easy victories in the heats and semi-finals but was injured when sixth to Jurassic Vapour in the final.

She was off the scene for two months but when she resumed, at Angle Park, she left box one in a hurry and scored by 12 lengths in fast time. Taken to Wentworth Park, the black speedster won her heat of the Golden Easter Egg by five lengths and went within 1/100th of her own track record, running 29.98.She qualified for the final by winning her semi-final by 10 lengths in a new track record time of 29.92, becoming the first greyhound to break 30 seconds at Wentworth Park three times.

The final proved just what a champion she was. From box four Tenthill Doll was fairly well away but Proper Tears had begun like a bullet and was highballing out in front. Tenthill Doll looked beaten at the end of the back straight, giving away a huge start to the flying Proper Tears. Yet she gathered herself and stormed home to tip out Proper Tears by three-quarters of a length. The runner-up was later disqualified for drug offences.

A week later Tenthill Doll was in Cannington in Western Australia for the Group One Perth Cup. She broke the track record with a 30.67 win and then took the final by nearly eight lengths from the classy Jurassic Vapour in a fast 30.70.

Contesting the Australian Cup over 515 metres at Sandown Park, Tenthill Doll added yet another track record to her belt, scoring by 12 lengths in her semi-final in 29.65. She then defeated Proper Tears by a half-length in the Cup final, a Group One event.

On May 18 she made it nine wins on end with a success at Wentworth Park in the first round of the State of Origin series. She was then beaten into sixth place in the return round of the State of Origin series, held at Albion Park. Three more wins followed, all at Wentworth Park and all in the best time of the night, the first being a victory in the third and final round of the State of Origin series while the last was in a heat of the prestigious Winter Stake.

Injured in the Winter Stake, she ran fourth behind Midnight Flirt and was off the scene for a month. She resumed at Wentworth Park but was again injured, this time more seriously, when fourth to Kiowa Pacer. It was her 18th and last race for 1996. Tenthill Doll had won 14 times, including three track records and three Group One victories. So, it was no surprise that she was crowned 1996 NSW Greyhound of the Year for the second time, thus joining Zoom Top, Winifred Bale and National Lass as the only dual winners of the prestigious award.

Tenthill Doll made her return to racing in the 1997 Golden Easter Egg series, running a solid first-up third behind Kedo’s Millie and Just Like Jack in her heat on March 15.She then ran head to head with Queensland star Nobody’s Fool in her semi-final, going down by just under two lengths and thereby qualifying for the 1997 final. Sadly, Tenthill Doll was not up to the task of defending her title and finished a long last behind Bahama Image.

Tenthill Doll was retired after the event with the impeccable credentials of 32 wins, 10 seconds and seven thirds from 57 starts. She had been unplaced just eight times and at least four of those could be attributed to injury. She retired as Australia’s highest stakesearner with $382,600. Tenthill Doll raced on eight tracks and won on seven.

At Wentworth Park she contested 26 races for 16 wins, four seconds and three thirds. She was fourth in another two, injured both times.

At Sandown Park she raced six times for four wins and two seconds.Tenthill Doll had an average winning margin of 5.4 lengths, putting her right up there in the champion stakes. From box one she raced 12 times for nine wins, one second, one third and one fourth (injured).

Interestingly, her win strike rate was 56 per cent, and although from boxes four, five and six this dropped to just 35 per cent, with six wins in 17 races, she was placed 10 times from those alleys and her only unplaced effort was an injured fourth.

In the breeding barn she was the dam of the brilliant Springtime Magic as well as Needa Mint and Dolly Mint. Tenthill Doll deserved her induction into the AGRA Hall of Fame alongside such luminaries as Rapid Journey, Chief Havoc, Zoom Top, Highly Blessed and Flying Amy.

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