The defeat of Xylia Allen in the final of the Association Cup, just a week after smashing the 720 metres Wentworth Park track record in her heat, was not really a surprise in historical terms. Some of the greatest greyhounds to have ever raced in Australia have suffered similar fates: that is, winning a heat or semi-final of a major race in new track figures, only to ‘go over’ in the final the following week.
The following is a quick- and far from comprehensive- look at some of the more prominent ‘upset’ results down through the years.
Black Magic Opal may well hold the unenviable record of having set or equalled track records twice in heats of major races, only to go down in the final. Black Magic Opal equalled the 425-metre Bendigo mark in his heat of the Bendigo Cup on 16 April, only to finish seventh in the final behind Paw Licking.
In the 2013 Hobart Thousand, Black Magic Opal won his heat in 25.65 for the 461 metres to set a new time standard but was beaten half a length by his great rival Paw Licking, who had to break the week-old record to score (in 25.64).
One of the most notable of recent years was in the Sandown Cup of 2012. West Australian superstar Miata had set new track figures of 41.17 in winning her heat but in the final she was unable to repeat the performance, running a one and three-quarter length third to Irma Bale and He’s My Future in 41.79.
In May 2008, Queen Lauryn blazed over the 520 metres trip at Wentworth Park in 29.44 to take out her heat of the Ladies Bracelet by just over 14 lengths. That was just a week after she had equalled Paua To Burn’s previous track mark of 29.51. Yet, in the Ladies Bracelet final, Queen Lauryn was narrowly beaten by Miss Beeslee.
In December 1972 the brilliant sprinter Benny McGrath broke the long-standing 530 metres track record at Wentworth Park, winning his semi-final of the NSW St Leger by 14 lengths from box one in 30.7 (it was tenth timing in those days). The previous record of 30.8 had been set by the great Roman Earl almost six years earlier and equalled by no less than seven others.
In the St Leger final, Benny McGrath had box six and could only finish third behind Likely Light (another who had been one of those to equal the old track mark) and Millaska, beaten seven lengths after striking trouble.
In 1969 the mighty Zoom Top smashed her own track record over 722 metres (then 790 yards) at Wentworth Park when she won her Sydney Cup heat in 42.9, taking 3/10ths off the record she had set the previous year when taking out the Sydney Cup final.
Although Zoom Top had lengths on the final field, a fall at the first turn and then severe interference put paid to her chances in the final and she rattled home to run a gallant fourth behind Our Vent.
The 1968 Summer Cup final at Harold Park looked a match between Zoom Top and the new track record holder for 732 metres (then 800 yards), Bunyip Bint. The latter had broken the 14-year-old hand timed record of 43.2 when she won he semi-final in 43.0 on 30 November.
Yet in the final, after challenging for the lead in the early stages, Bunyip Bint gave up without a struggle to trail in a long last behind the all-conquering Zoom Top.
Finally, in 1966 the champion sprinter Roman Earl broke the 530 metres (then 580 yards) track record at Wentworth Park in a semi-final of the NSW St Leger, running 30.9. Yet, a week later, in the final, Roman Earl was unable to overcome Sunset Fire and had to be content with a one and a half lengths second place in 31.4.
So, Xylia Allen is hardly Robinson Crusoe when it comes to being beaten in a final after setting new figures in the run-offs; in fact, she has joined some pretty elite company.