Caption: Gunnedah Greyhound Club honours its wonder dog, Chief Havoc, with this tribute and by naming its Cup after the champion
By GARY CLARK
REMEMBER Chief Havoc?
Well the Gunnedah Greyhound Club do for a very good reason and that is why they name their Cup each year in honour of a champion greyhound.
Chief Havoc was whelped in Gunnedah in September 1944 and was sold at six weeks of age to Jack Millerd for £8.
Jack was a storekeeper in the small village of Carroll, near Gunnedah, and a champion amateur jockey.
This was Jack’s first interest in greyhound racing and he had no idea where the mighty Chief Havoc was going to take him.
Chief Havoc opened his racing in 1946 winning his first start at Grafton and two days later won the final there, by five lengths both times. He defeated a 10-dog field in his second win.
Back in those days fields of 10 were frequent on many tracks. The “Chief” then won at Maitland before scoring at his fourth start in the Tamworth Derby by 10 lengths.
He equalled track record times in wins at Cessnock, Grafton and Gosford before breaking a track record at Casino.
Dogs of his standing attracted offers of up to £1500, but Jack refused to sell. It was huge money back in those days.
Chief Havoc made his city debut at Harold Park with a win.
In 1947, Chief Havoc had his first staying test at Maitland over 740 yards and demolished the field by 12 lengths and then went to Harold Park over the gruelling 800 yards to win by four lengths.
He was turning out to be a people’s dog. Everyone wanted to see this dog in the flesh, very similar to Phar Lap decades earlier.
In May 1947, Chief Havoc had an exhibition gallop at Harold Park in front of a crowd of 17,000 that had come to get a look at this amazing record-breaking champion.
He was timed for four different distances in the 800-yard run and recorded records for every one of them.
Jack retired him after 27 starts that yielded 21 wins. He was put to stud and served 45 bitches at £25 pounds per serve.
In 1948 Chief Havoc returned to racing and Jack refused a massive £6500 offer from interests in England.
Chief Havoc continued his domination on the track before finally being retired with a record of 26 wins from 35 starts on 14 different tracks, nine track records and seven equal track records.
He produced 453 litters at stud and his bloodlines can be found back through generations from some of the sport’s best including Zoom Top, Black Top, Brother Fox, Fernando Bale, Winifred Bale, National Lass, Miss High Lo and Temlee to name a few.
Chief Havoc enjoyed a great life after racing and passed away at the age of 13 in 1957. Unfortunately Jack Millerd was killed in a road accident in 1966.
The Chief Havoc Gunnedah Cup will start in the first week of June.
In the 10 years it has been run the Cup has not been inundated with high class winners, but still has its own slice of history.
Trainer Garry Steatfield has won the race three times, the first time in 2013 when the Cup was run for the last time on grass.
His Glenreagh Rocket won and backed up the following year on the new loam surface.
Glenreagh Rocket raced 73 times for 30 wins and 20 minor placings which all started when he won his first two starts at Armidale and Wauchope.
Glenreagh Rocket was set for races on tracks in Newcastle, Temora, Goulburn, Bulli, Grafton, Maitland, Lismore, Casino, Wentworth Park and Albion Park.
He won $65,000 in prizemoney and retired in June 2015 when he finished fourth in his third consecutive Chief Havoc Gunnedah Cup final. A remarkable career.
More joy was to come for Garry five years later in 2019 when Glenreagh Skud (El Grand Senor-Magic Dior) won. The Skud’s mother had finished second to Glenreagh Rocket in 2014.
He raced 136 times for 28 victories, mainly around the mid-North Coast and Northern Rivers of NSW.
One of the classiest chasers to win this race was Knight Sprite in 2017. What a marvellous dog he was for Gayle Masterson.
He raced 99 times for 34 wins, 22 seconds and 16 thirds, collecting $238,000 in prizemoney.
On the morning of that year’s Cup, Gayle broke her ankle in the puppy yards at home and had to organise transportation and handlers for that night.
It turned out well with Knight Sprite winning the Cup, which was worth just $5000.
He had a fine career, winning the Group 2 Gosford Cup and Group 2 Richmond Derby in 2016. In the same year he ran a cracking third in the Easter Egg.
Knight Sprite also ran third in the Goulburn Cup and was a finalist in the Group 3 Xmas Gift at WP in 2015.
He returned to Gosford in 2017 but just fell short when finishing second.
The first winner of the race in 2010 was Tadmore Buckshot trained by Simon Ma in Sydney for Tom Astbury. He won 20 races from his 69-start career after opening with two wins at Dapto.
He ran third in two Group 3 events at Wentworth Park and Potts Park.
In 2011 He’s No Boy, who won 15 of his 43 starts, won the cup.
The following year went to Go Jessie’s Girl, a well-bred Collision-Go Mighty Mouse bitch.
In 2015 Peter Honnery won the Cup with Karma Connie who also won four times at Wentworth Park. The 2016 Cup went to Suzi Cargo for Jennette Steel.
The race was not run on 2018 and 2020 but last year’s winner Lucky Lance won the closest finish in the race so far.
Flashing down the outside Lucky Lance won in a four-way finish with just a half-length separating them.
Lucky Lance is trained by Robert Ayres who doesn’t mind a decent petrol bill.
Last year Robert also had a good veteran, Boscano. So with him eligible for Masters races in town Robert decided to put both dogs in the car on the weekend of the Cup heats.
Robert, who lives on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, headed to Wentworth Park to win with Boscano on the Saturday, drove back to Gunnedah to win the Cup heat with Lucky Lance.
After covering more than 2000km in two days, he freshened up and did it again the following weekend.
Boscano won at Wentworth Park and Lucky Lance won the Cup at just his 16th race start.
Lucky Lance has been a real success on the track, having collected $40,000 in prizemoney. He won two races at Sandown and one at Albion Park, was a finalist in the G2 Cranbourne Cup and a second in this year’s G3 Bundaberg Cup.
There aren’t any flash Group 1 names on this honour roll but there has been some great stories attached to the race.
This year the winner’s purse has increased from $15,000 to $40,000, and that should be enough to entice some of the best to Gunnedah on the long weekend.