Whenever someone is asked, “What do you remember” in relation to an event or series of events in their past, most people will drag out and dust off their recollections. Naturally enough, they believe the information they then impart is correct.
When it comes to recalling specific information about races and racing in general I am often taken aback by the often misinformed memories which are then recorded and published in a variety of publications related to greyhound racing.
At this point I need to make it clear that, (a) I have been guilty of making errors when it comes to writing about past events; and, (b) I don’t believe anybody who relates something as fact, when it is actually flawed in some way, does so deliberately to mislead or misinform.
The following are just two examples of how one person’s memory does not fit with the actual facts.
The following, edited, piece appeared on The Dogs website in 2013. The story was an interview by Jeff Collerson with the smart trainer Colin Kneeshaw, whose brilliant sprinter Diddy Strike had just scored his 24th win at The Gardens.
Towards the end of the piece Kneeshaw recalled his re-introduction to greyhound racing.
“Colin was almost turned off greyhound racing when he visited the Bathurst track with friends in 1954 and a hotly disputed photo-finish result in the final race saw an angry mob tear down the judge’s box,” the story read. “‘At the time I thought I never wanted to go the dogs again but in 1981 I was persuaded to go to a meeting at Dubbo to watch Promises Free, the champion of the day, in action,’ he said. ‘I was hooked from then on and Promises Free went on to win the 1982 National Futurity.'”
A great story, except the facts are slightly off. Promises Free did not race at Dubbo in 1981 and her first, of only two starts, at the track took place on July 24, 1982, and that was her first race after having won the National Futurity.
Promises Free did win that Dubbo race, by 10 lengths.
Once again, to be clear, this is not meant as any kind of personal attack on someone’s memory, just a gentle (I hope!) reminder that our memories and the facts can sometimes be misaligned.
This comes from Greyhound Queensland’s Journal. A great boon to the sport in the land of the bananabenders, over the years I’ve often noted small errors in the memories of those who are interviewed about their time in greyhound racing.
The stories are always good to read, but the facts need often to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.
In the March 2005 edition of the Journal, there was a story about a character known as “Lemonade” Tommy Feehan, interviewed by David Brasch.
“When it comes to the best greyhound he has ever seen, it’s Zoom Top by a winning mile,” goes the story. No disagreement from me on that score, but then the quote from Lemonade Tommy had me shaking my head.
He is quoted as saying: “Did you know Zoom Top won a 300m race on a Monday at Wollongong, a 500m on the Tuesday at Gosford, a 617m at Bulli on the Wednesday, a 790m at Dapto on the Thursday and topped it off with an 800-yard win at Harold Park on the Saturday night,” he said.
Zoom Top was certainly rightly famous for her incredible ability to back up quickly and over a variety of distances and tracks, but that story is just a complete fancy.
The closest I can come to matching the fanciful quote is a period between November 20 and December 28, 1968, 36 days, not six. Zoom Top won over 617m at Bulli, three days later won over 530m at Wentworth Park, seven days later scored over 732m at Harold Park, won again at Harold Park over 732m a week later, won over 530m at Wentworth Park for two weeks running then five days after the second victory she won over 375m at Richmond and two days later made it eight on end with a 732m win at Harold Park.
Earlier in 1968 Zoom Top had raced six times in 28 days, between July 6 and August 3. Zoom Top ran second over 457m at Harold Park in the final of the Winter Stake, two days later won in track record time over 795m at Beenleigh, nine days after that she won over 402m at Grafton, then three days later won over 676m at Grafton. A week later she was second over 457m at Harold Park and then won over 292m at Richmond.
Part of the reason these unintentional falsehoods make it into print is journalists are unable to quickly verify the information they’re given regarding events that often took place many years ago. They might have misgivings about the imparted memories, but there’s really no way to check quickly and easily, which therefore allows these kinds of mistakes to be perpetuated.