Track Records Are Made To Be Broken

With more than 84 years of greyhound racing in Australia there have been some quite amazing and unusual feats in terms of times. One of the most recent of these was the effort of West Australian sensation Miata to break the 530 metres Cannington track record in two successive starts.

Yet Miata has a way to go before she can equal the efforts of Chief Havoc, Top Linen and Smith's Elect who set four track records in four consecutive races.

Admittedly, they were achieved during the days of tenth rather than hundredth timing except in the case of Top Linen. He set the track record twice over 457 metres at Harold Park with hundredth timing, while his other two victories were achieved in tenth timing, all in 1957. Chief Havoc won at , twice at Casino and then Lismore in track record times back in 1946.

Smith's Elect was a great hurdler (he won his first nine straight over the brushes) and he broke the Wentworth Park and Newcastle hurdle records in four successive races between the end of 1959 and the beginning of 1960.

In the case of Top Linen, after winning those four in succession in record or equal record times, he was retired to stud, so who knows if the sequence could have continued.

Greyhounds who have collected three consecutive track record scalps include the aforementioned Chief Havoc, this time in 1947 at , Dubbo, and ; the brilliant but unpredictable Bunyip Bint in 1969 over 732 metres at Harold Park, twice, and 695 metres at ; in 2001 at Shepparton, Geelong, and ; and Miss Elly Mint in 2009, twice at the Gardens and once at Gosford.

Since the advent of universal hundredth timing in the mid-1970s, the best performances to my knowledge are three track records in a row by Brett Lee, at Shepparton 440m, Geelong 457m, and Ballarat 450m, in 2001 and Miss Elly Mint in 2009 when she broke the Gardens 413m record twice and ended with the Gosford 400m mark.

Among a host of performers who have put together two track records in a row, like Miata, are Top Linen (1958), Zoom Top (1969), Busy's Vintage (1984), Pretty Short (1984), National Lass (1984), and, more recently, Nellie Noodles (2010).

The great bitch holds the mark for establishing or equalling the most number of track records in a career. Between 1953 and 1956 she was responsible for 20 track records, a performance that will almost certainly never be approached. Her sire, Chief Havoc, is the only one to have come close to her, setting or equalling 18 track records in his incredible career. Zoom Top set or equalled 15 track records during her 136-start career.

The most greyhounds to jointly hold the one track record was eight, over the 530 metres distance on the grass at Wentworth Park. Again this was when tenth timing was used. In 1966 the joint NSW Greyhound of the Year Roman Earl set the standard at 30.8. This was equalled in succession by Red Zero, Queensland champion Pied Rebel, all-distance star and 1970 NSW Greyhound of the Year Tara Flash, Victorian bitch Spanish Dancer, Lord Galaxy, NSW Greyhound of the Year dual runner-up Woolley Wilson, and Likely Light.

Four races, or about 80 minutes after Likely Light equalled the record for the second time in her career, in a semi-final of the 1972 NSW St Leger (now ), it was finally broken in 1972 by Benny McGrath. Both he and Woolley Wilson were trained by , the only mentor to have successive Wentworth Park sprint track record holders.

In the era of timing to the closest hundredth of a second, probably only the Nowra 519 metres has held the mark for the most number of joint record holders. In 1998 there were five joint record holders: Attunga Way, Classy Spider, Earl Arwon, Nikki's Pride and Popular Image.

The shortest time for a greyhound to hold a city track record is possibly Knocklaun Gold who became the first to break 30 seconds at Angle Park in running 29.99 in a heat of the Adelaide Cup in January 1984. Just 20 minutes later that record was broken. Ngarutao broke the Cairns track record in July 2000 in winning a heat of the local cup; about 20 minutes later Toolibuk eclipsed that mark when he win his heat of the cup.

Finally, two probably unique performances: Shining Osti, trained by veteran mentor Alan Chauncy, broke the 650m track record at the Gold Coast in 1995, at start number 100; and Quick Stitch, who broke the Lithgow 706m track record in a six lengths victory in 1981 at the age of five years and two months. It's not known whether the old-stager suffered a ‘stitch' in breaking the mark at such a venerable age.

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