Remember when: Winifred Bale ruled NSW greyhounds for two years
IN August 1980, Allen and June Wheeler's former star bitch Emiline Bale whelped a litter of puppies sired by the great Victorian sprinter Temlee. One of those puppies, a red fawn and white bitch, would become the first greyhound to win successive NSW Greyhound of the Year titles since the mighty Zoom Top.
Named Winifred Bale, both she and her litter sister Gwendalyn Bale showed enough early potential to commence racing at just 16 months of age, competing against each other in a 400-metre maiden at Richmond on December 11, 1981.
Winifred Bale won well with Gwendalyn Bale third.
After winning again at Richmond the following week, Winifred Bale started 1982 with a third over 530 metres at Penrith and then won two in a row up the 274-metres straight at Appin.
On March 1 she made her city debut, over 457 metres at Harold Park, but could only run fifth. Given a three-week break she came back to Harold Park, but only ran fourth.
After another three-week break, Winifred Bale contested a heat of the Appin Opal (274 metres), running a half-length second to Western Doll. Sadly, injury forced her out of the final.
Back at Harold Park on May 1, she could only run fifth in a semi-final of the Ladies Bracelet and fifth again the following week in a graded race.
On May 15, Winifred Bale struck form and scored by five lengths at Penrith. She repeated the dose a week later and then, on May 29, broke through at Harold Park, winning by four lengths in a fair 26.51 from box five.
After a third placing in a semi-final of the Dave Alexander Memorial at Harold Park, Winifred Bale made her debut at Wentworth Park on June 19 in a semi-final of the National Futurity over 530 metres. From box two she scored by two lengths from Boston Mist in a solid 31.09.
In the Futurity final Winifred Bale led until well into the home straight before being overwhelmed by the undefeated Promises Free who made it 11 starts for 11 wins as she downed Winifred Bale by a head.
Winifred Bale went on to contest the Richmond Oaks over 537 metres, running second in her heat before running third behind her sister Gwendalyn Bale and Swift Babe in the July 9 final.
Sent south by Allen Wheeler to his friend Angelo Fonti, Winifred Bale contested the 513-metre Laurels Classic series at Sandown Park, leading all the way to win her semi-final by seven lengths in 30.96, the fastest time of the night and then annexing the final by again leading all the way from box five to score by five and a half lengths on July 29.
Back in Sydney, Winifred Bale finished only fourth at Harold Park (her sixth defeat in seven races at the spacious circuit), but then won a semi-final of the Young Star Classic at Wentworth Park, downing future stars Subtle Sense and Kongwak.
Contesting her fourth major race in just 23 outings, Winifred Bale led to the first turn in the Young Star Classic final but was outpaced by Gwendalyn Bale who went on to set a new race record time of 30.94. Rickley finished second a head in front of Winifred Bale.
On August 23, Winifred Bale drew box one for the first time, in an Invitation Stake at Harold Park. She used the alley to perfection to lead all the way and down track specialist Bobby Rich by four lengths in a sizzling 26.11. That time was not bettered during 1982.
After a third at Wentworth Park, Winifred Bale headed to Queensland for the Coca Cola Cup (now Brisbane Cup) series over 558 metres at the Gabba. She finished second behind local star Madonna Lee in her heat and, despite drawing box one for the September 9 final and leading until the home bend, could only run fourth behind fellow NSW sprinter Peter Glider.
Back home, Winifred Bale contested the NSW series of the National Sprint Championship, running only fourth after finding interference in her Wentworth Park heat behind Peter Glider but then winning her Harold Park heat in a brilliant 26.18.
In the NSW State Final, run on October 2 at Harold Park, Winifred Bale came from behind to defeat Darlin' Pepper and Nelson's Wave to notch her second major race victory.
Winifred Bale finished a fair third at Harold Park nine days later before travelling to the Gabba for the October 21 final of the National Sprint Championship. Drawn poorly in box six she could only finish seventh behind the local champion Madonna Lee.
Just two days later Winifred Bale made the final of the Vic Peters Memorial Classic at Harold Park by winning her semi-final by five lengths from Charne Mist in a fast 26.29.
In the October 30 final, King Seagull came from six lengths behind on the home corner to mow down Queensland speedster Rocket Supreme and score by a head with Winifred Bale also running on strongly to be a half-length away third.
Sent once more to Melbourne, Winifred Bale won a heat of the Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park in a solid 30.80 but then ran what would be arguably the worst race of her career in her semi-final, finishing last behind Kid Scandal. The latter went on to win the final.
Winifred Bale returned to Sydney for the NSW St Leger (now Paws of Thunder) series at Wentworth Park. In her semi-final on December 4, Winifred Bale defeated Turbo Jet by four lengths in 30.79, easily the fastest of the night and the fourth-quickest run at the track during 1982.
From box one in the final, Winifred Bale gave nothing else a chance, downing All Spice by two lengths with My Pal Penny third.
On December 16, Winifred Bale finished second to Gwendalyn Bale at Wentworth Park, her litter sister scoring by almost two lengths in 30.77, the second-quickest of the year.
A week later, this time at Harold Park, Gwendalyn Bale again scored, downing Golden Hazden by three-quarters of a length with Winifred Bale a half-length away third.
Finally, on December 27, Gwendalyn Bale made it three on end against her litter sister, defeating Winifred Bale by a length in 30.78 at Wentworth Park, the third-fastest time of the year.
During 1982, Winifred Bale raced 39 times for 16 wins, six seconds and eight thirds and collected $40,050 in prize money. She was short-listed alongside Harold Park specialist Bobby Rich, Promises Free, and champion stayer National Lee for the NSW Greyhound of the Year award. Due to her consistency and versatility she was crowned 1982 NSW Greyhound of the Year in a ceremony held in early February.
A slight foot injury delayed Winifred Bale's return to the track, but she appeared on January 20, 1983 with a first-up victory at Wentworth Park. She pulled up sore and was out of action for five weeks.
Resuming on February 26 in an Invitation Stake at Harold Park, she finished third, beaten a length and a half by Gwendalyn Bale and Electro Eagle.
A week later Winifred Bale overcame box six to score by five lengths at Harold Park, relegating Gwendalyn Bale to third, the first time she had finished behind her litter sister in five recent contests.
The success was short-lived as on March 10 Gwendalyn Bale trounced her litter sister by seven lengths at Harold Park with Opal Columbus third.
The pair continued their running battle in a semi-final of the Penrith Oaks, run over 530 metres, two days later. Winifred Bale led but was then passed by Gwendalyn Bale before she fought back and downed her rival by half a length. She then repeated the dose in the Oaks final, defeating Gwendalyn Bale by a length with Unique Pepper third.
On March 24, Winifred Bale scored by five lengths at Harold Park and then won her heat of the Appin Opal on April 2. In the final, Winifred Bale made it five successive victories as she scored by three lengths from Gwendalyn Bale in 16.10, the best time of the day.
Two defeats followed. In the first Winifred Bale was only fourth at Wentworth Park behind Gwendalyn Bale, litter brother Billy Bale and Swift Model and in the second she was only third to Mister Biggles and Nelson's Wave at Harold Park.
Winifred Bale returned to the winning list on April 30 in a semi-final of the Ladies Bracelet at Harold Park, defeating her kennelmate Pretty Baby by 10 lengths in 26.54.
In the Ladies Bracelet final, Winifred Bale came from second early to defeat Mullyallan and Conceited Miss in 26.50.
A second and third in top grade races at Wentworth Park followed before Winifred Bale notched her 10th win (from 22 starts) at Harold Park, on May 28.
A fourth and a second in top grade at Harold Park were next but then Winifred Bale hit a purple patch which saw her victorious in 12 of her next 15 outings.
Winifred Bale won a semi-final of the National Futurity on June 18 in a slow 31.67 but from box seven in the final she led most of the way to defeat Mullyallan in 31.37 by a length with Gwendalyn Bale third.
Although run down and beaten a neck by Footrot Fiddle in a semi-final of the Richmond Oaks, Winifred Bale made the final her own to score by four lengths from Pretty Face and Footrot Fiddle, thereby completing a clean sweep of the major races for bitches in New South Wales.
A seven-length victory followed in an Invitation Stake at Harold Park on July 6 but then Winifred Bale could only run third on a heavy track at Wentworth Park behind Acacia Park a week later.
On July 28, Winifred Bale defeated Gwendalyn Bale at Harold Park and then won twice more at the course, running 26.49 and a fast 26.23.
At Wentworth Park on August 27, Winifred Bale contested the Year of 1982 Stake which brought together the finalists of the 1982 Young Star Classic in a re-match. Only King Seagull could not take part. Winifred Bale led all the way from box five to beat Subtle Sense by five lengths in 31.25. Gwendalyn Bale was fourth.
Winifred Bale then ran 26.10, what would be her fastest time, in defeating a Harold Park Invitation Stake field and then made it six wins on end in a heat of the NSW National Sprint Championship series, scoring by three lengths at Wentworth Park.
In the second round of heats, run at Harold Park, Winifred Bale finished second to Snow Beacon but took her place in the NSW State Final at the same course on September 24 poorly drawn in box six. Despite this, Winifred Bale speared out of the boxes and ran a blistering 26.15 to defeat Bindall's Hope and Acacia Park.
The victory sent her into her second consecutive National Sprint Championship final and was her 16th at Harold Park, equalling the record held by Fast Sapphire, Sole Force and Bobby Rich.
The National Sprint Championship final was held at Harold Park on October 1 and from box seven Winifred Bale gave nothing else a chance, leading all the way to defeat Bindall's Hope by four lengths in a sizzling 26.13.
The first prize money of $24,000 took Winifred Bale's earnings to a new Australian record of $94,000, eclipsing the $93,000 earned by the former Victorian champion Tangaloa. It also gave her a record 17 wins at Harold Park.
Allen Wheeler revealed after the race that Winifred Bale had been troubled by a bruised toe in the days before the final and had required veterinary treatment.
On October 17, Winifred Bale made it 18 wins over 457 metres at Harold Park, leading all the way to down Gwendalyn Bale in a fast 26.12, the sixth time she had run under 26.20, a unique effort. Unfortunately, the win was also her last at Harold Park.
Five successive defeats followed. Winifred Bale was beaten half a head by Star Prediction at Harold Park on October 24 and then a neck by kennelmate Dynasharp five days later at the course.
Sent to Melbourne for a second assault on the Melbourne Cup, Winifred Bale was run down in her heat at Sandown Park by Acacia Park and then, in her semi-final, she again led but was run down and beaten three-quarters of a length by Rustic Red in a fast 30.77.
Nonetheless, both she and Gwendalyn Bale (also second in her semi-final) made it into the Melbourne Cup final on November 24. From box four, Winifred Bale shot to the lead but was collared by Lady Lilly and West Australian star Swift Glade on the home corner and finished a length away third. Gwendalyn Bale was sixth.
Winifred Bale's third place prize money propelled her earnings to $100,720, making her the first greyhound to earn a six-figure sum in Australia.
Wheeler gave Winifred Bale a short break and the champion returned on December 17 in a heat of the Christmas Gift at Harold Park. She came home a long last behind Acacia Park and after the race it was found Winifred Bale had dropped a back muscle. Allen Wheeler immediately retired her.
Winifred Bale raced 81 times for 41 wins, 15 seconds and 13 thirds (six fourths) and collected $100,740 in prize money. She made 18 major finals and won 10, was second in one, third in four and scratched from one. She won on six of the seven tracks at which she started (only failing at the Gabba), but never set a track record.
Winifred Bale and Gwendalyn Bale clashed an amazing 24 times with Winifred Bale winning 12 times to Gwendalyn Bale's eight. Winifred Bale also finished ahead of her litter sister in the four races which neither won.
With 23 wins in 40 starts during 1983 it was no surprise Winifred Bale was named NSW Greyhound of the Year, thereby becoming the first since Zoom Top, in 1968 and 1969, to be crowned with the ultimate accolade in successive years.