Qld Greyhound Of The Year: 1971 – 1992

Caption: The amazing Top Simbi was named Qld Greyhound of the Year in 1973 and ’74.

PAUL DOLAN traces the winners of the Queensland Greyhound of the Year – Part 1

The 2021 Queensland Greyhound of the Year will be announced on April 1.

The rules and judging methods are largely unchanged since the inception of the award. When was that, you might ask? It may have been in 1971. There was daytime greyhound racing that year, at venues including Beenleigh, Capalaba, Lawnton and Loganholme. Records are a little sketchy from that time and there may have been some other tracks in operation.

1971: A magazine called the National Greyhound News reported a tie for Queensland greyhound of the year between Black Trick and Mulga Edna. Who selected that pair is not known.

1972: Night racing at the Gabba commenced on April 6 that year. The NGN says Wybilena was selected by a panel of Molly Campbell (Qld Greyhound form guide), Peter Hall (journalist), Mick Cox (racecaller), Mike McAuliffe (journalist) and Fred ‘The Frog’ Fraser (journalist) as the 1972 GOTY. There was no mention of any other finalists. As in 1971, this was an NGN greyhound of the year.

Wybilena was a sprinter by The Shoe out of Twist Again, trained by Vic Johnson initially at Tallebudgera and later Hope Island on the Gold Coast.

1973:  The Gabba club introduced and conducted the award. Top Simbi was the winner with the Hughie Tite trained Dan Meadow mentioned as the other finalist. Dan Meadow won the 1973 Queensland Derby by ten lengths so he was no slouch. Bomber’s Gal was an exceptional performer that year too but was probably ruled ineligible because she was trained over the border into northern New South Wales by Ruth Parsons.

1974: Top Simbi won again, the only year where there is mention of the number of votes. Top Simbi got 8 votes, Mister Oollee 3, Ben Hamilton 1 and Refidex 1. The amazing part about Top Simbi is that he was a big dog and used to literally run around the middle of the tight turning Gabba track. Perhaps he got some extra momentum on the bends, like a cyclist. The dog was trained by Bert Kennedy for himself and a mate, Bill Brideson, in suburban Brisbane. Top Simbi spent more time on a bean bag in the living room, watching television, than in his kennel downstairs. Experienced clockers at the old Lawnton track spoke of Kennedy taking Top Simbi there regularly to trial over 370 metres and he would break the record running around the middle of that circular track.

Top Simbi set a Gabba 558 metres record of 32.58 on May 24, 1973. He lowered that to 32.50 the following week. On May 16, 1974, he lowered that record to 32.48, a figure which was to stand for four and a half years. He wasn’t just a Gabba star, he won over 800 yards (732 metres) at Sydney’s Harold Park. Some might call him a champion, perhaps ‘freak’ is a more apt description.

1975: Coorparoo Flyer won the award. Paul Cauchi and Doug Smith trained the dog at various stages of the year. Coorparoo Flyer, when trained by Cauchi, won the 1975 National Sprint Championship, representing Queensland, run at Wentworth Park. It was the first time since the inception of the race in 1965 that a runner from outside of New South Wales and Victoria was the winner. The Alan Beetson-trained Kabisa Gem was a finalist and there is no record of a third finalist.

1976: Kabisa Gem reversed the 1975 voting result, beating Coorparoo Flyer and Cleaura for the title. Kabisa Gem didn’t win the equivalent of a group race at the Gabba that year, but her overall consistency and versatility impressed the judges. She won the Queensland Cup at Beenleigh.

1977: Rebel Attack, trained by Vic Johnson of Wybilena fame, won the award. Copper Fashion may have been the only other finalist. Rebel Attack won 19 races for the year, 17 in best of the day or night time. He won the Coca Cola (now Brisbane) Cup in race record time of 32.61, the Lawnton and Mount Isa Cups. Rebel Attack consistently gave Top Simbi’s Gabba 558 metres record of 32.48 a decent nudge without actually breaking it.

1978: Solar Beach, a bitch trained in Brisbane by Sid Norris for Graham Sichter of Mackay was the winner. She won over the Gabba’s three mainly used distances of 420, 558 and 704 metres. She won twelve races for the year, eleven at the Gabba. It was a vintage year. Runners-up were the Peter Rayner trained 558 metres record breaker Iron Hawk and Herb Bevan’s sprinter Secret Academy won had eleven Gabba wins and was as honest a greyhound as you would want.

1979: There were four finalists. Gallant Anne, a daughter of Tivoli Chief and Riviera Moss for Ray and Annette Helton was the winner, outpolling Bill and Kevin Braund’s Bollacky Barry, Steve Coleman’s Katie’s Disco and John Reimer’s Miss Perlita. Like 1978 the standard of performances was exceptional.

1980: Miss Perlita was back again and this time a winner for John Reimer whose daughter Joanne was the owner. The home-bred daughter of Irish import Eddy Barry and Blue Perlita had feature wins at places like Lawnton and Tweed Heads over short distances, and excelled over the Gabba’s 420 metres course. But Miss Perlita wasn’t just a shortcourse star. She ran a best of the night 33.07 winning a Gabba feature in August. Borstal Lad and Lucky Tribute were the runners-up for the title.

1981: Final Dream, a daughter of Ungwilla Lad and Paradise Peg, took the title for owner Greg Harrison and Brisbane-based trainer Keith Dickinson. The highlight win was in the Gabba Gold Cup over 704 metres. She won by four lengths from box five. Final Dream outpolled the John Reimer trained Jason’s Trace and Mike O’Byrne’s Thor’s Edition.

1982: Glanzend, raced by father and daughter team Ernie and Carol Hill at Gilberton near Beenleigh, took the title. He was a sprinter, by Castleisland Lad out of Tekatana. Runners up were the very well credentialled Half Stout for John Reimer and Madonna Lee for Neil Thompson. While numbers of votes are not revealed, the feel in the judging room was that this was again a year of truly outstanding performers.

1983: Pewter Frost, primarily a stayer, beat sprinter Fawn World and stayer High Monakii for the title. Tony Zammit trained the son of He’s Mystic and Denise Linley for clients and friends the Wigan Confederacy. Pewter Frost won the state final of the National Distance Championship at the Gabba before running a terrific third to Victorian stayer Ten Guitars in the grand final at Hobart. Pewter Frost won the Kent Cup and the Ardath Stake, both at the Gabba, in the days when tobacco companies were major race sponsors.

1984: Connections of runners up Magic Gull (Jim Grundon and Gary Cameron) and Coonowrin Bess (Ray Gatti) could consider themselves unlucky to run into a performer like this year’s winner Rustic Venture. Trained by Peter Denaro for Doug Seeto, she won the Ardath Queensland Futurity and TAA Air Cargo Cup, both over 558 metres at the Gabba, in slick times, en route to winning the Melbourne Cup. Rustic Venture became the first Queensland trained winner of that Cup. Denaro was at the starting boxes at Sandown, it was a close finish and he wasn’t sure who had won. When he heard the words of racecaller Ron Hawkswell say – the Queenslander has won the Melbourne Cup, Denaro said he felt ten feet high and so proud. First prize was $35,000, a decent amount at the time.

1985:  It was another year of great competition. The Mike O’Byrne trained staying bitch Amanda Flash took the award over Kismet Range and Kirsty’s First. You would have been proud to have owned any of them. Amanda Flash had a busy year, winning 14 of her 29 starts. At the Gabba she chalked up ten wins from 18 starts, each win over 704 metres. Rockhampton club put on a ‘one off’ feature staying race over 630 metres and enticed O’Byrne to put Amanda Flash in the race. Which he did. The daughter of Waverly Supreme was at unbackable odds and won accordingly. O’Byrne said he was expecting perhaps some anamosity from local trainers but, in fact, it was the opposite. A huge crowd turned out to see Amanda Flash, and treated O’Byrne and his bitch like celebrities.

1986: Kirsty’s First took the award ahead of Hopeful Doll and Pretty Fearless. The Gary Cameron trained Kirsty’s First was the first Queensland trained greyhound to win the final of the National Distance Championship since the race’s inception 17 years prior. She won the state final at the Gabba by eleven lengths, then the grand final on the same track by five lengths after giving NSW greyhound of the year National Lass a start mid race.

1987: The Mike O’Byrne trained Hopeful Doll had been in great form but once again had to be content with a runner-up spot. The widely travelled Pretty Fearless took the award for Reg and Mary Crawford, ahead of Hopeful Doll and the Marie Heck-trained Track Trump. During this year Pretty Fearless took his prizemoney earnings to $107,000 which was an Australian record at the time.

1988: It was the year of Dancing Gamble, a Gabba specialist who was almost unbeatable over 558 metres there. The Pauline Fruend-trained dog won the National Sprint Championship grand final, on home soil at the Gabba. Markaboy trained by Tony Zammit and John Edwards was a GOTY finalist, as was the Mike O’Byrne- trained stayer Shy Nimbus.

1989: A piece of history occurred here. For the first time since 1974, the finalists were the same sex, that being male. The Mike O’Byrne trained Musical Maestro was the winner over Owen Lockett’s stayer Western Creole and Dancing Gamble who only raced for a few months, but was again a Gabba star. Musical Maestro won the Queensland Constellation at the Gabba in 32.39, a very slick time. The track record was 32.31 held by his kennelmate Hopeful Doll. Musical Maestro also had a convincing win in the Queensland Cup at Beenleigh.

1990: Cool Marvel gave Tony Zammit his second Queensland GOTY, outpolling Owen Lockett’s Western Creole and the Jeff Jones trained Tusitu. At the Gabba Cool Marvel won six feature races, the quickest being the Interstate Challenge in 32.39. He won the Queensland Cup at Beenleigh, the Gold Coast Derby and the Lismore Coca-Cola Classic.

1991: As with 1989 it was a year of all male finalists with the Margaret Quarrell bred, owned and trained Wallowa Flash outpolling Cool Marvel and Your Attention which was trained by Col Rogers. Wallowa Flash’s only feature win at the Gabba was the Coca-Cola Invitation in 32.95. But his form at the Gold Coast and Capalaba captured the attention of the judging panel. Wallowa Flash won 15 in a row at Capalaba including the National Straight Track Championship in which he was the 2/5 ($1.40) favourite and romped home by five lengths. He won the Gold Coast Cup on the Parklands grass in 25.72.

1992: History was created this year for a few reasons. It was the final greyhound of the year in the Gabba era, before the move to Albion Park in February 1993. And for the first time, each finalist was a bitch. The Tony Zammit-trained stayer Elusive Odie outpolled Tickety Boo, also trained by Zammit, and Ipswich star Haylewie Miss, trained there by Sid Lewis. And it had been six years since a stayer had won the coveted GOTY title. Among Elusive Odie’s wins at the Gabba were the Gold Cup, Spring Cup, President’s Cup and state final of the National Distance Championship, each over 704 metres. She ran second to Victorian stayer Pace Galore in the grand final at Wentworth Park over 720 metres.

So that’s what happened from 1971 to 1992. Please join us next month for a look at 1993 to the present day.

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