GUNNEDAH CHIEF HAVOC CUP (527m)
Listed ($15,000 to the winner)
Heats: Sunday, June 6.
Final: Sunday, June 13.
By TERRY WILSON
IT is time once again for residents of the New South Wales country town of Gunnedah to honour their past greyhound superstar Chief Havoc with the race named in its honour.
The Ladbrokes Chief Havoc Cup (527m), with $15,000 first prizemoney, is being held this month, with heats on Sunday, June 6, and the final a week later on Sunday, June 13.
It is a country classic, one of the most sought after in provincial New South Wales dog racing, and Gunnedah boss Geoff Rose says an event many, many owners and trainers would love to win.
“A lot of people hunt for it and no matter who wins they just want to have that Cup and the rug that says Chief Havoc on it,” said Rose “It’s all about the status of that greyhound which is rated arguably the greatest greyhound we’ve had.”
Chief Havoc was born in the north-western NSW town and is actually buried at the track, just behind the 527m boxes in the area where a big peppercorn tree used to grow.
The famous white and fawn dog also has a life-size statue at the entrance to the club.
At times Chief Havoc was considered as the greyhound equivalent of the mighty racehorse Bernborough, his racing contemporary.
This year will be the 10th staging of the Chief’s Cup, first run in 2010 but not held last year because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
It was first won by a dog named Tadmore Buckshot.
Since then the most prolific winning trainer has been Gary Streatfield, from Grafton. He won it back-to-back with Glenreagh Rocket (2013-14) and with Glenreagh Skud in 2019.
Away from the imposing influence Chief Havoc has had on Gunnedah, there was an interesting development in 2013 when the Cup Carnival was threatened by an interloper, apparently armed with a bucket of weed poison.
The person(s) poisoned a section of the home straight and at first it was feared the Cup would have to be cancelled.
“It was all down the home straight but I got a guy to come on and spray paint the surface with green paint,” said Rose.
“It worked because you would have never known that it had been poisoned.”
The irony is that, after that act of vandalism, the club dug up the old grass surface and replaced it with sand not long after.
“The person did it the week before the Cup but the police never found out who was responsible. We suspected it was a jealous official from a rival country club. But we couldn’t prove it.”
The Chief Havoc Cup final night will have three good support acts in a Maiden and Fifth Grade with $5000 first money for both as well as a heat of the Country Challenge, worth $7500.
The winner of this event gets a start in the final at Wentworth Park.
For a piece of trivia, it has to be noted that the Gunnedah 527m track record stands at 29.62 seconds, set by Feral Franky when it won a regional qualifier of the 2019 Million Dollar Chase.
The previous standard was a tick more than 30 seconds.