Launceston Gold Collar (515m)
Best 32 Tasbred greyhounds
Whelped on/after 1/11/2018
Heats: Monday 2nd November 2020
Final: Monday 9th November 2020
By Brennan Ryan
The Launceston Gold Collar, now in its 82nd year this November, has focussed the spotlight on some of the greats of greyhound racing.
Scenic (x Barney O’Hea) was the first greyhound to add its name to this honour board in 1938, as a worthy winner of the event, beating home Dazzling Star and Lady Glen over the 325 yards.
Ebony Minda and Western Idol were standouts in the ‘50s and ‘60s, being successful winners at the White City track, both bringing fame and publicity to racing.
Laylon Smith, was responsible for breeding Ebony Minda, a result from the mating out of Laylon’s quality broodbitch Neutral Zone by top Sydney sprinter Cola Minda.
At a mere 17 months of age Ebony Minda debuted in a juvenile heat at the T.C.A. in February, 1958.
Though trained entirely in her career by Laylon Smith, the bonnie little chaser appeared in the race book on debut as owned and trained by George Breen. Why? To get a better price of course!
She streaked the field in winning by a lazy 12 lengths and many pounds were collected for the efforts.
Just four days later Smith elected to enter Ebony Minda in a heat of the 1958 Launceston Cup. She won by four lengths in the process. If that was not enough for the pup, she backed up three days later at Hobart for the Juvenile final, again blitzing the opposition to win by 12 lengths.
At her next two starts Ebony Minda began writing her own record book at just eighteen months when she won both her semi-final and final of the Launceston Cup over 548 yards, taking the 600 pounds prize holding out the Rosevear Brothers’ classy pair Night Fabric and Night Fun by a half-head.
Inside fifteen days she went from unraced to winning five from five including a Launceston Cup!
Furthering her career record Ebony Minda won seven straight, before tasting defeat for the first time when finishing second in the Easter Plate final. Bouncing back from that loss she won eight more races from her next ten starts, heading towards the Gold Collar series.
After winning her Gold Collar heat from box 9 off a six-yard handicap by four lengths, Ebony Minda overcame the same handicap from box ten in the Collar Final in May 1958 to nail the tearaway leader Qantas Rocket by a mere half head. This after striking huge trouble in the run.
This earned her another 125 pounds and a race record not broken until 1962 by Diamond Park.
Laylon Smith knew he had something special in Ebony Minda right from the beginning.
A Puppy Championship at White City and the T.C.A was added to her growing race wins.
Following a bizarre loss in the Nelson Cup, one of those rare times in her famous career, it was a trip interstate for Laylon and Ebony Minda, which sealed her career as one of the greats to come out of Tasmania. She took on the best and won the 1958 NSW St. Leger at Wentworth Park.
Ebony Minda raced for another 16 starts after returning to Tasmania, winning six and placing 10 times. Her last career start was a third at Devonport on September, 1959, retiring at just three-years of age.
Her record: 35 wins and 15 minor placings from 55 starts.
A hall of fame inductee in 2008, Ebony Minda’s name ‘etched’ in public view as the ‘Ebony Minda Straight Track Facility’ located on the Mowbray Racecourse run by the Launceston greyhounds.
Western Idol, or Judy as she was known by her legendary trainer Reg ‘Titch’ Wilson, is regarded as one of Tasmania’s greatest sprinter/stayers winning features in Tasmania, Victoria and in NSW.
Owner and breeder Murray Mead reared the impressive litter which included the likes of classy litter mates Warren’s Idol, Shuffle Off and Oran Care. Mead elected to hand over the mentoring duties of Western Idol to Titch Wilson who at the time was also preparing the freakish chaser in Oak Queen.
Known for her traits as a tardy beginner, Judy was third on debut at White City in April, 1960. It was seven days later at the T.C.A where she broke through for a narrow win as many bets were laid.
Following a Trial Stakes victory in Devonport over Dream Well, all sights were set by trainer Titch Wilson in entering for the 1960 Puppy Gold Collar at White City, over the distance of 548 yards.
After a 2nd to Creamy Cheetah in a heat, she scored an emphatic 4 length semi-final win over Night Prince. A week later in the final she beat Whispering Buddy, exiting box 4 and scoring by 3 lengths.
Western Idol was versatile, with a racing career over distances between the 500 and 900 yards.
At her staying debut over the tough distance of 785 yards at White City, Western Idol won both a heat and final of the A.N.Z.A.C Cup. Her fifteen-length heat win over Peter’s Treasure was simply outstanding, backing that up to win the final in a one act affair over Velvet Smoke in 44 4/16.
Runs in Victoria saw Western Idol finish a gallant third in a heat of the Melbourne Cup. She was an unlucky second in the Hotham Stakes at North Melbourne over 675 yards. Stepping up to the gruelling 950 yards in the Sporting Globe Marathon, she scored by a length from Dainty Myth.
Keep in mind she was just 21 months … she was just warming up. Her risky manners weren’t suited to a tight T.C.A. track, however connections elected to enter ‘Judy’ for the 1961 Hobart Thousand.
She won both her heat and semi-final before winding up fifth to Ophir Doll, who went onto win a second successful ‘Thousand’ the following year for Hall of Fame trainer Hilda Williamson.
Western Idol raced up until December 29, 1962, finishing with a 6th in a 465-yard sprint at Devonport. ‘Judy’ raced 76 times, winning in three different states for 36 victories with 25 minor placings.
There has been a unique group of greyhounds to have completed the Gold Collar/Launceston Cup double over the eighty-years of racing at Launceston. Some Ben, Ebony Minda, Western Idol were the class gallopers to pull off that feat in the ‘early years’.
A lightning beginner named Capriccio completed the double in the modern era winning the Gold Collar in 2006 before annexing the Launceston Cup of 2007 for trainer Ted Medhurst.
Big Moose, for Butch Deverell, also joined this elite club winning the 2007 Gold Collar and the 2009 Group 2 Launceston Cup.
Previous Gold Collar winners: 2001 – Family First; 2002 – Rapid Rohan; 2003 – Flying Fort; 2004 – Ethan Jack; 2005 – Midnite Castle; 2006 – Capriccio; 2007 – Big Moose; 2008 – High Choice; 2009 – Thirteen Black; 2010 – Dang Shen; 2011 – Jethro; 2012 – Diavlo; 2013 – Bit Hot Finchy; 2014 – Demi Cali; 2015 – He’s All Class; 2016 – Adam’s Bandit; 2017 – Wynburn Cutie; 2018 – Buckle Up Izy; 2019 – Wynburn Lethal.
Caption: The great Ebony Minda – crowned champion after winning the 1958 Launceston Gold Collar