From the Caller’s Box

By PAUL DOLAN

While in my local watering hole recently, helping to keep the profits of the XXXX parent company alive, there was a greyhound race on Sky which resulted in a dead heat.

A fellow supporter of XXXX asked how many dead heats did I call in feature greyhound races, and did I get them right?

The answer was simple – nought, none, zilch. I never called a dead heat in a group one race. There’s a good reason for that – dead heats for first in group one greyhound races are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

I can only find two. The 1963 Vic Peters Classic at Sydney’s Harold Park was a dead heat between Seraphino and Test Pattern. Group racing wasn’t actually in existence back then, but the race was the equivalent of what is group one conditions today. The racecaller that night was probably Frank Kennedy or perhaps Ray Conroy.

As far as I can see, it was thirty years until the next dead-heat in what you would call a major race, that being the inaugural Top Gun at Sandown in 1993. In atrocious weather conditions, Worth Backing and Golden Currency dead heated for first. Ron Hawkswell was the caller. His words at the finish were: “They have hit it locked together.”

Spot on Hawk!

More recently, the 2016 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden at Ipswich resulted in a dead-heat between Paua to Avoid and Split Image, both trained by Tony Brett. John Brasch called that race which was group 3. Brasch’s words across the line were: “It could go either way.”

So he was spot on too.

Still at the pub, the name ‘Russ Hinze’ came up and the former larger than life Queensland politician was declared to be Queensland’s best ever Racing Minister. Few would argue, except for me! I’d rate Bob Gibbs alongside Hinze as the best Racing Minister for achievement. So I’ll call it a Hinze – Gibbs dead heat.

Hinze was a National Party man. Love him or loathe him, he certainly got things done. He took a few shortcuts along the way, but in his time as Racing Minister from 1980 to 1987, he turned racing from a neglected business into a thriving one.

Gibbs was a dyed in the wool Labor Party man from Bundamba in Ipswich. Like Russ Hinze, he was very hands on. Gibbs turned up one day at a race meeting I was calling. He was very casually dressed, surprisingly so for such a high profile politician. It so happened that he was on holidays and chose to have a day at the races at grassroots level. That was Bob Gibbs to a tee.

Russ Hinze died in 1991. Bob Gibbs is still with us. Both served seven years as Racing Minister.

So how’s that for a dead heat?

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