The 1974 Summer Cup: Clash of the Titans

THE final of the 1974 , run over the gruelling 732 metres distance on the grass at , produced one of the most memorable three-dog wars of all time.

The Summer Cup has traditionally been the last of the four major distance races contested each year in Sydney, and was generally run in November. In 1974 the final took place on the very last day of that month and among the finalists, and the odds-on favourite to take the race, was the brilliant white-and-black bitch Miss High Lo.

She was already a certainty to be named Greyhound of the Year and was a particular favourite with punters. After recording a slow 43.81 to take her non-betting qualifying heat, Miss High Lo had won the fourth and final semi-final of the Summer Cup the previous week by a whopping 11 lengths from Waihi, running a sensational 42.80, just 10/100ths outside ’s six-year-old track record and the second-fastest time ever recorded on the course.

Her chief rival for the final, as far as bookmakers and punters were concerned, was the boom stayer Armatree’s Idol. This black stayer had raced only once previously over the longer journey for a track record victory at Albury. He had registered 43.26 in his non-betting qualifying heat, the fastest time of the night, and was sent out a prohibitive 1/4 ($1.25) favourite for his semi-final. He led most of the way to down the seasoned Dotie Wilsonby a length and a quarter in a fast 43.16.

The other two semi-finals were taken out by the classy Overdraft, who downed the veteran Valodia, while Patches Pal defeated Noble Mogulin the other semi-final.

When the box draw came up with Armatree’s Idol in box one and Miss High Lo in box three, the race looked like a perfect match. Miss High Lo was backed into favouritism at 8/13 ($1.62) while Armatree’s Idol went off at 2/1 ($3.00).

At box rise it was , wearing the ‘checks’ of box two, who speared to an early lead of two lengths from Armatree’s Idol with Miss High Lo slowly away, as expected, and only seventh at the first turn.

Railing brilliantly, Miss High Lo was fourth at the 457 metres boxes but by the half-way mark had advanced to third, three lengths adrift of Armatree’s Idol. He, in turn, was still two lengths behind the high-flying Dotie Wilson. The rest of the field were strung out well off the cracking pace.

Onto the sweeping home turn and Dotie Wilson was joined by Armatree’s Idol with Miss High Lo poised just a length behind them. Into the long home straight and the crowd was on its collective toes. Dotie Wilson, racing one-off the fence, held the lead, seemingly on sufferance. Armatree’s Idol was railing tightly and right on her heels, although he looked to be tiring slightly. Miss High Lo, three-deep, had ground her way into a clear second place and was slowly but surely chipping away at the lead.

As the finish line loomed already the crowd knew they were witnessing one of the greatest two-dog home straight battles ever seen at Harold Park. Dotie Wilson, a blue bitch trained in Newcastle by Jim Canning and contesting her 45th race, managed to hold off Miss High Lo to score by a neck. Armatree’s Idol was just three-quarters of a length back in third place. It was daylight to the rest of the field.

Dotie Wilson ran a brilliant 43.05, the second-fastest Summer Cup at that time. It would prove to be the fastest time she would ever run in 12 victories at the course. It was also the first time Dotie Wilson had finished ahead of Miss High Lo in six clashes. They would eventually meet 10 times, with Miss High Lo beating Dotie Wilson home eight times.

After the race, trainer Jim Canning said, “I knew the material was there and it was probably the well-grassed track that brought it out.” He believed Dotie Wilson never showed her best when the turns were bare of grass.

Miss High Lo went on to take the Greyhound of the Year title, while Dotie Wilson achieved the same feat in 1975. Armatree’s Idol was soon retired and became a footnote in greyhound history.

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Halwes
Halwes
5 years ago

Well written as usual. Harold Park was not every one’s track but I saw champions race there,both trotters and dogs.

Growing up at Newtown saw me walk to H.P. on Friday and Saturday nights to see the stars race under the stars.

Todman
Todman
5 years ago

Fair walk Halwes, I saw Black Top there still one the best dogs that raced, great track and at least 60 bookies in my time

Halwes
Halwes
5 years ago

Well written as usual. Harold Park was not every one’s track but I saw champions race there,both trotters and dogs.

Growing up at Newtown saw me walk to H.P. on Friday and Saturday nights to see the stars race under the stars.

Todman
Todman
5 years ago

Fair walk Halwes, I saw Black Top there still one the best dogs that raced, great track and at least 60 bookies in my time