The Smoother: A fast and furious six-month career

Remember when

NOW known as the Classic, in honour of the former highly-respected GBOTA Chairman who sadly passed away in 1987, this great race for so-called ‘bad age’ puppies was formerly known as the Bi-Annual Classic and run over 500 yards (457m) at Harold Park.

The 1970 series was completely dominated by one greyhound, The Smoother.

By Bandar Prince out of Smooth Rapid, The Smoother was whelped in January 1968 and first hit the racetrack at the age of 22 months, contesting a 400 yards (366m) maiden up the Wyong straight on October 25, 1969.

From box seven, The Smoother simply blew his rivals away with speed, crossing the line 12 lengths clear in 20.4, the best time of the day.

A week later the 34-kilogram white and fawn dog ran the same time but only scored by half a length at Wyong.

Trained by Norm Kay, The Smoother was brought to for the NSW (now Paws of Thunder) series, run over 530m on the grass. After making it through the non-betting qualifying round, The Smoother took his place in box eight in a semi-final on December 13.

Although he managed to lead at the first turn he drifted wide on the home corner and allowed former Queensland star Pied Rebel to rail underneath him and go on to score by a length and a half from The Smoother. The rest of the field was nine lengths adrift. Pied Rebel clocked 30.8 to become the second greyhound, after Red Zero, to equal Roman Earl’s track record, set in 1967.

In the St Leger final, The Smoother exited box six and used his early speed to open up a two lengths lead in the back straight. This was cut to a length on the home corner by the fast finishing outsider Beau Brin, who collared The Smoother right on the line to win by a neck in 31.2. Pied Rebel was a length and a half away third.

Just three days after the St Leger, The Smoother contested his first race at Harold Park, downing the smart Black Sage by five lengths in a quick 26.5.

On December 27, The Smoother made it two in a row at Harold Park when he led all the way to defeat track record holder O’Mara by three and a half lengths in a blistering 26.3, the best time of the night.

The Smoother kicked off 1970 on January 7 by winning a 500 yards (457m) top grade race at , downing Starook by two and a half lengths in 26.7, his fourth best of the meeting victory in five wins.

Three days later he contested his first top grade event at Harold Park but after being in second and third position for much of the race had to be content with third place behind Pied Rebel and Starook, beaten a length and a half head.

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On January 17, The Smoother again found Pied Rebel too strong, going under to the -trained star by a neck in a First Grade event at Wentworth Park in 31.3, the equal best time of the night.

The Smoother drew box one for an Day top grade clash at Wentworth Park but he was once again run down after leading into the home straight, this time by Wests, who nailed him on the line to win by a head with champion stayer Busy’s Charm rattling home to be just half a length away third. Pied Rebel finished at the tail of the seven-dog field.

The Smoother now entered a fabulous winning streak that propelled him to the front ranks of Australian sprinters.
On January 31, The Smoother led all the way from box one to win an Invitation Stake (top grade) at Harold Park by two and a half lengths from Pied Rebel.

Norm Kay then took The Smoother to Melbourne to contest the series, then run over 560 yards (511m) on the sand at Olympic Park.

Although drawn poorly in box five for his semi-final on February 16, The Smoother simply bounced out of the boxes and strolled home to defeat Beau Strand by three lengths in a quick 30.6/16.

Two other NSW sprinters, O’Mara and Black Sage, also won through to the final.

The Smoother drew perfectly in box one for the final on February 23 and used the alley to full advantage, running away to defeat Phantom’s Heir by three and a half lengths with O’Mara third and Black Sage fourth. The winner received a cheque for $10,000.

Back in NSW, The Smoother contested an Invitation Stake over 555 yards (507m) at Dapto on March 12. From box two he downed Top Mustang by seven lengths in 29.9, a new track record which clipped 2/10ths off the previous mark held jointly by Jobi Lass, Benjamin John, , Silent Ring and Thunder Liza.

Set for the Bi-Annual Classic series, The Smoother easily won his non-betting qualifying heat and took his place in a semi-final on March 21. From box seven he set the track alight, leading all the way to down Lord Gemini by 14 lengths in a sensational 26.1, just 1/10th outside The Shoe’s track and world record.

Installed a warm favourite for the Bi-Annual Classic final. The Smoother exited box four and raced in a group with Swampy, Ultrasonic Sun and Clover Prince in the long run to the first turn. Prior to reaching the bend, The Smoother accelerated and scooted to a lead of two lengths. In the home straight he simply drew away from his rivals and went past the post six lengths clear of Swampy, stopping the clock at 26.3 to register his sixth consecutive victory.

The Smoother’s first two unplaced runs of his career followed. On April 4 he finished sixth behind Pride Of Cork, War Trial and Black Sage in an Invitation Stake at Harold Park after being skittled in the early stages of the race.

Four days later he finished fifth behind Pride Of Cork at Harold Park in a heat of the Endeavour Trophy. Once again The Smoother had struck trouble in the early stages of the race.

On April 11, The Smoother bounced back, winning a Free For All at Wentworth Park by three lengths in a fast 31.0, the best of the night.

Contesting a Wentworth Park heat of the Endeavour Trophy on April 18, The Smoother showed he did not lead to win his races, coming from third at the first turn to down Ophir Sparkle and War Trial by three-quarters of a length in a speedy 31.1, the best of the night.

That victory put him into the final, run at Harold Park on Anzac Day. Although well drawn in box two, he was outpaced by Black Sage from box one. Black Sage went on to win by two and half lengths from a strong finishing War Trial while The Smoother faded to finish third.

Sadly, on April 29, The Smoother suffered a terrible fall at the first turn in the Captain Cook Memorial Cup, a best-eight interstate challenge event run at Wentworth Park. The Smoother (box one) ran out at the first turn, clipped the heels of Ophir Sparkle and then crashed into More Champagne (Tasmania), Gary Moss (Victoria), Phantom’s Heir (Victoria), Brian’s Sister and Valiant Moss before falling.

His great rival Pied Rebel went on to win the race.

The Smoother broke his leg in the fall and the injury was so severe the leg had to be amputated. His career, spanning just six months and 22 starts was over. The Smoother won 13 races, finished second on four occasions and third twice, earning what was then a substantial $23,494 in prize money. His average winning margin was an impressive 4.86 lengths.

The racetrack’s loss was the breeding barn’s gain. The Smoother became one of the most pre-potent sires of his time with the likes of All Design, El Gazelle, Dusty Trail, Kim’s Monaro, Emiline Bale, Steelflex and True Leader among his progeny.

The Smoother died in January 1977, aged just nine.

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