Olympic Park greyhound track

In the time before it was granted a licence, on what was then known as the Number 2 Olympic Park oval, the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association (MGRA) had been conducting its racing out of North Melbourne Oval. When the council increased the annual rental fee from £7,000 to £9,500 per year, the MGRA refused to carry on and negotiated for the Olympic Park ground.

OlympicPark2A deal was struck with the management of Olympic Park whereby the MGRA would spend around £50,000 on installing facilities and would pay either £5,000 a year in rent or 12.5 percent of gate takings, whichever figure was the higher.

Despite the deal, the Victorian Amateur Football Association, which was then paying about £350 a year for the ground, expressed disappointment as the construction of a greyhound track would reduce the dimensions below the minimum for Australian Rules football.

The track was officially opened for racing on August 20, 1962. Olympic Park would operate, mainly on a Monday night, for the next three decades.

The winner of the first race was Rebel Cub, trained by future committeeman Les Foran.

The last major race conducted at the track took place on December 23, 1996, with the Silver Chief Classic, won by Awesome Assassin. The track closed down soon after.

Racing was conducted over 560 yards and 800 yards on a sand surface. With the introduction of the metric system at the start of 1973, the distances became 511 metres and 732 metres. Racing was also held over 298 metres and a middle distance of 600 metres was introduced in the 1980s. Hurdles were run over the 560 yards/511 metres trip.

It was the home of such great races as the Australian Cup (from 1964 to 1995), Anniversary Trophy (inaugurated 1964), Autumn Trophy, Olympic Park Distance Championship (now the AWM Distance Title), Gold Collar, Lord Mayor’s Trophy (1962), Maturity Classic (1970), Olympic Park Hurdle Championship, Silver Chief Classic (1964), Spring Cup, Gleeson and Tonta (now the Super Stayers) and Olympic Park Sprint Championship.

Olympic Park hosted five National Sprint Championship finals: 1966, 1970, 1974, 1981 and 1992 and four National Distance Championship finals: 1979, 1987, 1990, and 1995.

Striding Ahead holds the record for the most number of wins at Olympic Park, all over 511 metres, with 28 victories in 52 starts (nine placings) followed by Lizrene, which won 23 races at Olympic Park (21 over 732 metres and two over 511 metres) from just 34 starts (nine placings). Zulu Moss ranks in third place with 21 wins from 38 starts (eight placings). She won 15 of 29 races over 511 metres and six of nine over 732 metres.

olympicpark2The record for the most number of successive victories at Olympic Park was set by Striding Ahead with 13 on end in 1980, all over 511 metres. This eclipsed the previous best of seven in a row, set by Temlee in 1974. Temlee raced 17 times at Olympic Park for 13 wins and one third, including a track record 29.67.

The great stayer Lizrene held the record for the most successive wins over 732 metres, winning eight on end in 1972. She also won six on end in 1973.

Pharaoh’s Mask was undefeated in seven races over 732 metres, including a track record 43.09 run set on November 24, 1986, and unbroken at the time the track closed down. Pharaoh’s Mask also won eight races over 511 metres.

Others with great records at the track include Tempix, who won 17 of 33 starts at the course (12 placings); Modern Express with 13 wins at the track, including 12 from 15 over 732 metres; Munich Boy, who won 13 of 25 starts over 511 metres; Sheila’s Teresa, the Tasmanian star, won 13 of her 24 starts at the track, 12 of them over 732 metres and the brilliant Spread Eagled who won 13 of 16 races over 511 metres and was placed in the other three and won one of two over 600 metres, running second in the other. So, from 18 starts at the track he was never unplaced, which may well be a unique record.

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