This year marks the 60th running of the Peter Mosman Memorial, now conducted over 520 metres at Wentworth Park, fittingly rated again as a Group One event, and the second-oldest major race on the New South Wales calendar.
Inaugurated in 1952 and run over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park, the restricted-age race was originally known as the Bi-Annual Classic. One of the premier age events run by the GBOTA, it was always held around March each year between 1952 and 1987.
When the new Wentworth Park circuit opened and Harold Park closed, the race was moved to June and re-named the Peter Mosman Memorial, in honour of the late GBOTA chairman who had passed away suddenly in late 1987 after suffering a heart attack.
From 1988 to 1992 the race was held on grass and on loam since 1993. No matter what the track or the racing surface, the Peter Mosman Memorial has showcased the talents of some of Australia’s greatest sprinters.
The Harold Park years saw winners such as Classy Jane (1960), the dam of the great Black Top and his litter brother, the 1963 Bi-Annual Classic winner Keen Linen (who went on to win the inaugural National Derby the same year).
The 1970 winner was The Smoother, who defeated the Bob Doak-trained flyer Gemini Todd. Doak broke through to take the race in 1973 with his classy sprinter Dusty Trail. Harold Park star Early Copy won in 1974 while Victorian champions Satan’s Legend and Tegimi annexed the race in 1978 and 1979 respectively.
Promises Free took her career record to nine starts for nine wins when she won the 1982 event by seven lengths. She eventually won 14 on end. In 1983, Acacia Park, later one of Australia’s most potent sires, was victorious.
Another super sprinter and prominent sire, Brother Fox, won the 1985 running. The speedy Paris In Spring became the last greyhound to win the Bi-Annual Classic at Harold Park when she scored in 1987.
As the Peter Mosman Memorial, the race has continued to produce quality. In 1990, the future NSW Greyhound of the Year Classy Spider was successful, followed in 1991 by Farmer Wilson and in 1992 by How’s The Fort (also NSW Greyhound of the Year).
On the loam circuit, Worthy Reward scored in 1993, Victorian star Solve The Puzzle in 1998, then the likes of Great Wish (1999), Winsome Dollars (2001), and a third NSW Greyhound of the Year, Big Sam Banner (2002). Finally, brilliant Queensland pair Elite State and Surf Lorian took the silverware back over the border in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
The winner of the inaugural Bi-Annual Classic, introduced the year after the first running of the Harold Park Classic (later re-named the Vic Peters Memorial Classic), was Robin Buchanan.
In the early years of the event, a series of heats were conducted on a Monday night with the winners only going through to contest the final the following Saturday. Fields, as with all Harold Park races at the time, consisted of up to 10 runners.
Robin Buchanan had been slowly away in his heat before finishing strongly to qualify for the final in a fair 27.6 seconds. In the final, he drew nicely out wide in box nine, but was only an 8/1 ($9.00) chance with bookmakers, equal fourth pick with the punters, at box rise.
The firm favourite was Rose Havoc at 6/4 ($2.50) who had drawn well in box two. In the end, it was a close finish with Robin Buchanan downing another 8/1 chance, Valiant Ross (box one), by a head, with Rose Havoc a half-length away third. The time was 27.3 seconds, a significant improvement on his heat effort, but the second-slowest of the eight 500-yards races on the night.
By the end of 1952, Robin Buchanan had raced and won in top grade in the city. The night the second running of the Bi-Annual Classic took place, in March 1953, he competed in a top-grade President’s Stake over 800 yards (732 metres), finishing fifth.