By Brennan Ryan
TASMANIAN GOLD CUP (461m)
BEST 64 NOMINATED / HELD AT HOBART
HEATS 22 OCTOBER 2020
FINAL 29 OCTOBER 2020
($5,030 TO THE WINNER)
As the Tasmanian greyhound industry builds towards significant feature events on their calendar, one such race, the 51st Tasmanian Gold Cup in late October, holds a special relevance.
Etched in its history is the story of former Hobart Greyhound Racing Club secretary Peter Wright, and his special place in Tasmanian racing.
The Hobart Greyhound Racing Club has strong traditions within its 85-five-year history, as being one of Australia’s most dominated clubs, involved in setting the scene for greyhound racing in this country starting well back in the 1930s.
Situated at the Tasmanian Cultural Association (T.C.A.) for over 71 years, greyhound racing in southern Tasmania had built strong footings thanks to the efforts of the ‘godfather’ of greyhound racing in Tasmania, Michael Arthur Morgan, who held the reigns for thirty-three years.
October 2, 1967, saw a change in the HGRC leadership when Morgan resigned as club secretary and Peter Wright was put into that role and remained there for seven years.
A young northern-based Tasmanian, Wright was one of six candidates from three states who applied for the position of HGRC secretary.
Wright’s credentials were first class. He was firstly, a trained accountant, an essential qualification for running of what was by then a large business. Peter had taken up an involvement with greyhounds back in 1961, purely for exercise, though he embraced the sport with great passion.
He was an extremely talented sportsman involved in football, cricket, swimming and other events.
Wright married Coral Mason on July 9, 1960, at the Methodist Church, Sheffield. Living in Launceston, they had three daughters, Robyn, Dianne and Petrina.
Career-wise, Peter worked for accountants Douglas and Fraser for three years, before purchasing the Hospital Service Station in Charles Street, Launceston, in July, 1957.
He won awards from Neptune Oil for his quality of service in that industry. Prompt, courteous, efficient and attention to detail, were some of these qualities he took with him into greyhound racing.
Peter was influenced by the fact that his wife Coral’s three brothers – Des, George and Peter – were deeply ingrained in greyhound racing. And lifelong greyhound trainer Morrie Strickland was also a panelbeater working in Peter’s business for some time.
Prior to becoming involved with the HGRC, Peter had successfully owned and trained greyhounds for six years. Most noted of his dogs included Lallawa Prince (x Balinga Chief), who was a winner of 28 races and claimed the 1962 Devonport Cup for trainer Johnny Lewis.
Vulperra was another classy performer for Wright winning the 1965 Maiden Thousand at the T.C.A.
Wright was 35 years old when he secured the Hobart position. He developed a number of initiatives that proved outstandingly successful. One of the first being to convert a loss of $11,240 in Morgan’s last full year, to a profit of $68, and then a further profit of $1,595 for his second season.
In 1969 the young club secretary launched the idea of introducing the Tasmanian Gold Cup, at the time for Tasmanian-based greyhounds only. The event progressed to a three-week series as heats, semis and finals, which was a resounding success.
Les Gunton, a Gallipoli veteran, prepared the great chaser Summer Idol (x Zephyr’s Review), which was the victor of the inaugural event, defeating Fiery Jane and running the 540 yards in 29.90 seconds.
The Gold Cup, to this day, is still regarded as the second most prestigious event conducted at the Hobart Greyhound Racing Club behind the Group 1 Hobart Thousand.
Mona’s Beauty (1973/74), Dynamic David (1977), True Vintage (1987), Blazenka’s Flyer (1989), Jenny’s Legacy (1991), Bomber’s A Flyer (1996), Shantung Tiger (1997), Stylish Doctor (2003), Damek (2010) and Rewind (2012) are just a short list of greats to have won the Gold Cup.
Among achievements during the Peter Wright years at the HGRC included promotional events held in conjunction with race meetings, enhancing media coverage of greyhounds, modifying track and racing equipment plus further improvements to infrastructure around the club’s grounds.
By 1972, there was little wonder that he had been elected to the committee of Commonwealth Greyhound Association. He was widely regarded as an innovator.
Wright played no small role in securing host rights for the 1971 National Distance Championship.
His efforts even during the ‘Thousand’ carnival were largely responsible for first-ever profits for that event exceeding a million dollars.
However, the heavy workload, which included 80-hour weeks during carnival time and regular 76-hour weeks, took a toll on this conscientious man.
He resigned in 1974 and less than six months later, tragically passed away.
However Peter Wright left an ever-lasting legacy with the HGRC and his name rightly sits among the greats of the sport in the Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Hall Of Fame, which he was inducted into in 2018.
An excerpt from ‘Go Greyhound, 50 Years of the Hobart Greyhound Racing Club’ says it best:
“Peter Wright was an honest and upright man. He left the sport on a higher plain than he had found it, for he was an able administrator, had the sense to foster and promote the sport to the public, and knew the interests and fears of the men and women most involved in the sport, the owners, trainers and breeders. He found it difficult to delegate work either to his Committee or to his Assistant when he was appointed, through a fear of what he didn’t do himself might not be done properly. The sport of greyhound racing owes a debt to Peter Wright.”
Each year the Tasmanian Gold Cup is held in Peter Wright’s honour. It salutes a true champion and a passionate ambassador of greyhound racing.