THE dead-heat between Victorian stayer Ring The Bell and local hope Melissa’s Pride in the final of the 720m Summer Cup at Wentworth Park is, perhaps not surprisingly, one of extreme rarity when it comes to major distance races, not just in NSW but Australia-wide.
The Summer Cup boasts a history which stretches as far back as 1965 when it was inaugurated over the tough 800 yards (732m) trip at Harold Park, and this was the first time in 52 editions the judge has been unable to separate the first two across the line.
It is the first time a major race has ended in a dead-heat at Wentworth Park. It is also the first time a major distance race run in NSW has ended in a dead-heat and only the second time this has happened Australia-wide.
The first major distance event to have seen a dead-heat was the 2007 West End Draught Distance Championship, run over 731m at Angle Park, which saw Miss Columbia and NSW contender Miss Grub share the $15,000-to-the-winner spoils.
The only other notable dead-heat in a race conducted over the stayers’ distance came in 1973 when Tomray Moss and Speedy Clogs shared the 684m Skippa Cup at Maitland, but that was a best-eight event at the time.
Before Ring The Bell and Melissa’s Pride, the closest finish in Summer Cup history came in 1986, when Victorian stayer Terimoto downed local star Street Wise by a nose in what was the last Summer Cup run at Harold Park and in 2006, when Glen Abbey Doll scored by a nose from Kibble Kruncha.
For most of its history the Summer Cup was one of the most sought-after events on the distance calendar and would always consist of four semi-finals. Since the gradual dearth of distance greyhounds over the last decade or more, the number of heats for the Summer Cup has declined to three and now only two, which means the first four in each are able to make the final.
Ironically, 2006 winner Glen Abbey Doll was the first greyhound to have run fourth in its heat and then gone on to win the final. Ring The Bell was fourth in his heat and now has a share of the black type for the final.
In the 2012 edition there was a dead-heat for third with Off my Trout and Hotwire unable to be separated behind the high-flying Tasmanian Bell Haven and runner-up Zsa Zsa.
When it comes to major races held in NSW, the Summer Cup now sits alongside the 1963 Vic Peters Memorial Classic dead-heat between Seraphino and Test Pattern (over 500 yards at Harold Park), the 1972 Tamworth Gold Cup dead-heat between Dashing Danny and Topini Fire and the 1984 Richmond Derby dead-heat between Bindall’s Hope and Creamy Koko.
As far as 2016 is concerned, the Summer Cup is the second dead-heat in a major race, with the Vince Curry Memorial Maiden being shared between Tony Brett’s pair of Split Image and Paua To Avoid back in February.
As I mentioned in an article at the time of that dead-heat, the most famous dead-heats in Australia so far include the 2003 Australian Cup (shared by Blackjack Tom and Most Awesome) and the inaugural Topgun in 1993, shared by Golden Currency and Worth Backing.