Early speed is, quite naturally, a highly-prized attribute for any greyhound, and when it is combined with the ability to consistently run fast times and a tenacious will to win, then a champion is usually the end result. By any measure the appellation ‘champion’ is one Satan’s Legend (Temlee x Cyclone Liz) earned almost from the outset of his brief but brilliant career.
The beautifully-bred 32.0kg red fawn dog was whelped in January 1976 and was owned and trained throughout his career by Danny Gillard. He began racing in June 1977 at the age of 18 months, and scored first-up over 440 metres at Shepparton, despite the disadvantage of drawing box six.
Two successive victories over 424 metres at Warragul followed a month later, after which Satan’s Legend contested the Silver Chief Classic series over 511 metres at Olympic Park.
After easily winning his non-betting qualifying heat, Satan’s Legend was sent out a 4/7 ($1.60) favourite for his semi-final on 18 July, despite drawing poorly in box four. Punters who took the short odds probably discarded their tickets a few seconds after the start when Satan’s Legend began poorly and was quickly checked. At the first turn he was seventh and again found trouble.
In the back straight he moved up to sixth, out wide, but was bumped again. At this point most young greyhounds would have given up, but not Satan’s Legend. He continued to push forward but was still only fifth as the field turned for home. Heading back to the rails he squeezed his way to third and then drove hard to overwhelm the leader Flying Bravado, streaking past him to score by a length and a half. It was a remarkable victory, one which some pundits claimed was the greatest victory ever seen at Olympic Park to that time.
Satan’s Legend drew perfectly in box one for the Silver Chief final and led all the way on a slow surface to score by just over a length from the smart Dusty Progress. The latter, having only his third race start, would clash with Satan’s Legend on a number of occasions over the next two years.
Satan’s Legend did not race again until 7 September when he scored by seven lengths over 440 metres at Shepparton and repeated the dose a week later, this time running 25.05, a new track record.
After winning a graded race at Olympic Park on 26 September, Satan’s Legend made his Sandown debut on 6 October and kept his perfect record intact by winning over the 513 metres by a length.
Set for the Shepparton Cup, Satan’s Legend clashed with Dusty Progress in his heat. The Legend had box four, while Dusty Progress had the ‘cherry’, so betting was split between the pair, Satan’s Legend eventually starting at evens ($2.00) with Dusty Progress at 5/4 ($2.25). Punters were proved right with Satan’s Legend beginning perfectly and leading all the way to defeat Dusty Progress by four and a half lengths in 25.18, the best of the night.
Unbeaten in 10 starts, Satan’s Legend drew badly in box six for the Shepparton Cup final. After being checked at the start he could not recover and finished fourth to Near History, beaten just a length and a half.
A week later he suffered a nine-lengths defeat when second to Polar Glow at Sandown. Beginning badly from box seven he was hampered and checked in the first half of the race before eventually emerging into a well-beaten second.
Satan’s Legend quickly bounced back on 10 November when he exited box six to score in his heat of the Melbourne Cup. In the final, the red fawn speedster fought a three-way battle with Mile Post and Mandaquita before having to settle for third place behind the former, beaten just over a length. Dusty Progress finished sixth after finding trouble.
Dusty Progress gained revenge at Olympic Park on 28 November when he led most of the way to score in slow time, with Satan’s Legend only seventh after being checked repeatedly out of the race. Satan’s Legend did not appear again for a month.
His last race for 1977 proved he was back to his best: scoring an all-the-way victory by 11 lengths at Olympic Park in a fast 29.74 to make it 12 wins from 16 career starts. Dusty Progress took time honours that night with a 29.68 success.
Satan’s Legend began 1978 in a semi-final of the Australian Cup at Olympic Park on 9 January. From box three he again began badly and suffered interference while Dusty Progress used box one to perfection to lead all the way.
After leading from start to finish to win at Sandown 10 days later, Satan’s Legend was set for the Maturity Classic at Olympic Park. He won his semi-final by nine and a half lengths, leading all the way from box two while Dusty Progress won his run-off after overcoming early bother.
When Dusty Progress drew box one for the Maturity final and Satan’s Legend box seven, punters made the former an odds-on favourite with the Legend starting at 5/2 ($3.50). Satan’s Legend began brilliantly and raced away to score by almost seven lengths from littermates Precious Charm and Belabour Prince. Dusty Progress missed the start and finished sixth.
It was the fifth and last time the pair met in the same race with Satan’s Legend holding the upper hand with three wins and a third compared to Dusty Progress’ one win and two seconds. Dusty Progress would go on to win 21 of his 42 career outings.
Danny Gillard now took Satan’s Legend north to Harold Park in Sydney for the prestigious Bi-Annual Classic (now the Peter Mosman Memorial). Having his first start on grass on a track generally regarded as the best in the world for genuine speed greyhounds, Satan’s Legend made light work of his rivals in his semi-final over 457 metres, leading most of the way from box four to down Wendalung by eight lengths in a solid 26.51.
Made a 9/10 ($1.90) favourite for the Bi-Annual Classic final on 25 March, Satan’s Legend bounced out of box two and gave nothing else a look in as he trounced True Leader by seven lengths. True Leader went on to win the National Derby.
After the final there was some confusion as to the time Satan’s Legend had recorded, with claims the electronic timer had malfunctioned. After consulting with at least three well-known clockers the time for the race was acknowledged at 25.95, which was a new track and world record, clipping 5/100ths off The Shoe’s previous mark, set in 1967.
Sadly, the victory, Satan’s Legend’s fifth on end, proved the highwater mark of his career. He was retired to stud with a record of 17 wins from just 22 starts, but problems in his first season as a sire saw him brought back to racing 15 months later.
The red fawn dog resumed at Ballarat over 450 metres on 20 June 1979 but for the first and only time in his career was unable to win first-up on a circuit, running second to Tivoli Salute. Just five days later he scored by three and a half lengths over Great Garbor at Olympic Park in a heat of the American Independence Cup. It would prove to be his last race victory.
On 29 June, Satan’s Legend could run only fourth at Ballarat and then, having his fourth start in 13 days, he ran fifth at Olympic Park behind Tempix in the American Independence Cup final.
Finally, on 16 July he contested the Bookmaker’s Trophy at Olympic Park and tailed home a well-beaten seventh to Tempix. After the race Satan’s Legend was found to be injured and Gillard retired him for good.
Satan’s Legend raced 27 times for 18 wins, two seconds, and one third. He won the Silver Chief Classic, Maturity Classic, and Bi-Annual Classic, ran third in the Melbourne Cup and was a finalist in the Shepparton Cup and the American Independence Cup. His average winning margin was five lengths and he won first-up on five of the six tracks at which he started. From boxes one and two he was undefeated in seven starts.
His best progeny at stud was Satan’s Shroud, who won the 1981 Melbourne Cup and 1982 Geelong Cup, and Shining Light, who was the dam of 1985 Melbourne Cup victor Shining Chariot.