Regarded as one of the most exciting ‘come-from-behind’ long distance performers since Victorian champion Bold Trease, the black dog Texas Gold (Flying Penske x Sheza Swifty) raced for less than 17 months and yet compiled one of the most consistent records of any greyhound of his type.
Owned by prominent breeder Helen Ivers and trained for most of his career by Jason Mackay, Texas Gold began with a sensational 15 lengths win over 535 metres at Richmond on 7 January 2005 in a maiden heat, starting long odds on. He ran a brilliant 30.85, the best time of the night. In the final a week later he breezed home 13 lengths clear of his rivals and recorded a fast 30.61, again the best of the night.
Taken to Melbourne, Texas Gold was placed in two starts at Sandown Park over 515 metres and then raced over 520 metres at Wentworth Park. Starting an odds-on favourite he was knocked down in running and failed to finish. He would not be unplaced again for 34 starts.
A third at Richmond was followed by two wins over 565 metres at Maitland and then, on 15 April, Texas Gold was given his first distance test. Running over 717 metres at Richmond he gave his supporters a worrying time before coming from fifth into the home straight to win by just over a length.
After winning by 10 lengths over 565 metres at Maitland, Texas Gold raced over 720 metres at Wentworth Park for the first time on 2 May. Although favourite, he was beaten just under three lengths into third place by the promising Grecian Art. Five days later at Wentworth Park he cruised home just over five lengths in advance of Irinka Tahnee in a fast 42.56.
Mackay returned to Sandown Park for the heats of the Sandown Cup (Group 1) over 715 metres. Having his third distance start in just 10 days, Texas Gold stormed home to run a half-length second to Rocky. In the Sandown Cup final, Texas Gold found fellow New South Wales stayer Best Quoted too good, coming home second, beaten two and a half lengths.
After another second, this time at Wentworth Park, he was taken north to Queensland for a tilt at the Albion Park Gold Cup over 710 metres. Texas Gold returned to the winner’s list by downing the classy Malfoy by three-quarters of a length in his heat on 2 June. In the final he had to be content with being the bridesmaid yet again when Last Quoted, a kennelmate to Best Quoted (who finished fourth), scored by a length in a fast 41.74. Rocky was a head away third.
Texas Gold returned to Wentworth Park and scored in a sizzling 42.40 on 25 June but, four nights later, again found Grecian Art too good when a five-lengths third to that greyhound over 659 metres at Bulli.
Mackay took Texas Gold north for the July carnival at Grafton but came away disappointed when the 32-kilo dog was beaten just over a length by Cheeky Sprite in the 610 metres Stayers’ Cup.
Texas Gold returned to Sydney and hit a purple patch of form that propelled him into the top ranks of staying greyhounds. On 23 July he scored by six and a half lengths in a fast 42.50 at Wentworth Park and then, two weeks later, took his revenge on Grecian Art, downing that greyhound by almost seven lengths in a sensational 42.15. This was just 2/100ths outside Total Denial’s track record and the second-fastest time ever recorded at the course.
Set for the National Distance Championship series, Texas Gold won his heat at Wentworth Park on 20 August by three and a half lengths from Malfoy, and again ran sensational time: 42.17.
After winning the NSW State final by a length and a half from Resigned in 42.38, he was sent out a 2/5 favourite in the National Distance Championship final, run at Wentworth Park on 3 September. He came from fourth early to hit the front before the home stretch and cruised away to win by a whopping 10 lengths. His time of 42.07 obliterated the track record, clipping a substantial 6/100ths off Total Denial’s three and a half year old mark.
Taken south for the Sir John Dillon Memorial over 715 metres at Sandown Park, Texas Gold defeated Springvale Jinx in his heat and then turned the final into a one-act affair, crossing the line nine and a half lengths ahead of Grecian Art with Rocky third. His time of 42.13 was a new race record, and a whisker outside the track mark.
On 1 October the champion was back at Wentworth Park for the heats of the Sydney Cup. Starting a prohibitive 1/10 he made no mistake as he recorded his eighth consecutive win, downing Royal Riddle by six lengths in a brilliant 42.44.
In the final he came out in last place, as was usual, but remained among the last three greyhounds until the approach to the home bend. When he did begin his traditional whirlwind finish he found trouble and was back in last place as the field swept into the straight. In the run home he rocketed into second place but was five lengths adrift of Royal Riddle who ran an amazing 42.07 to equal Texas Gold’s track record.
Taken to Canberra for the Stayers’ Challenge over 771 metres, Texas Gold won by nearly four lengths in 45.61 and then smashed The Gardens track mark for 715 metres in a 15 lengths win in a heat of the Newcastle Cup.
He failed in the Newcastle Cup final, running a well beaten (11 lengths) third to Poison Ivory, pulling up in what seemed to be a distressed condition. Despite this, Texas Gold recovered well enough to travel south again to Sandown Park for the heats of the Carnival Cup, just eight days after his surprise Newcastle defeat.
He returned to his best with a sizzling 42.25 victory, downing defending Carnival Cup winner Arvo’s Athena by just over three lengths. He then won by the final by half a length from Arvo’s Athena. Rocky was third and Best Quoted fourth.
This was Texas Gold’s last race for 2005. He had raced 34 times for 20 wins, seven seconds, and six thirds and it was no real surprise he was named 2005 NSW Greyhound of the Year ahead of Best Quoted and sprinter Paua To Burn.
Texas Gold resumed on 14 January 2006 in a heat of the Association Cup at Wentworth Park but was beaten four and a half lengths into second place by Royal Riddle. Once again, he was at the tail of the field until the home bend before unleashing his finishing burst.
In the Association Cup final he once more dropped out towards the rear before rattling home in the final stages, but again was too late, running a one and a half lengths second to Endless Pit. His great rival Royal Riddle was fourth.
Back at Sandown Park for the heats of the Maidment Memorial on 26 January he missed the final when a well beaten third behind Spalding, beaten six and a half lengths after once again leaving his finishing run until the home straight.
Back in Sydney, Texas Gold ran in a heat of the Wentworth Park Gold Cup on 11 February, turning for home in sixth position before rattling home to run a five and a half lengths third behind Victorian Mid City Mandy and Miss Jaydee. Endless Pit was fourth.
The final proved a major disappointment for Texas Gold as he struggled home in sixth place, nearly 10 lengths adrift of his nemesis Royal Riddle. It was his first unplaced run for 34 races.
That statistic alone is a remarkable achievement, bettering the likes of such luminaries as Dancing Gamble (29 consecutive wins and placings), Lizrene (28), Miss Cruise (24), Flying Amy (23), and Bold Trease (21) to name just a handful.
His career looked to be over and Jason Mackay was at his wits end trying to work out why the dog was not performing to the best of his undoubted ability. In a bold and completely unselfish move, Texas Gold was transferred to the Victorian kennels of Darren McDonald.
The new surroundings, different training methods and routine seemed to work a treat and Texas Gold resumed racing on 20 April in a heat of the Lizrene Classic over 715 metres at Sandown Park. In need of the hit-out he stormed home to run second to Bentley Jane, beaten just under three lengths in a fast 42.24.
In the Lizrene Classic final, worth $15,000 to the winner, it was all Texas Gold as he bounced back to his very best, downing Odnoc Alorac by almost five lengths in a sizzling 42.14.
A fortnight later he was back at Sandown Park for the heats of the Sandown Cup, defeating Springvale Jinx in his heat by half a length in 42.30. Texas Gold had to be scratched from the Sandown Cup final and was retired soon after.
His record of 22 wins, 10 seconds, and eight thirds from just 42 outings, given the way he raced, is outstanding. It is doubtful if there has ever been a stayer of his ilk with such a consistent record.
Indeed, in 33 races over races of 600 metres or greater, Texas Gold was unplaced just once. His interstate record was ultra consistent. From 14 starts in Victoria and Queensland he registered six wins, five seconds, and three thirds.
He made 10 Group race finals, winning four, running second in three, third in one and scratched from another. This helped him accumulate around $221,000 in prize money. His average winning margin was 5.1 lengths, the same as the great Lizrene.