Time to judge the best

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From The Caller’s Box

By Paul Dolan

So what have you been up to during these stay-at-home times?

Many people, myself included, have found ourselves watching heaps of television. Previously non-movie viewers are glued to the likes of James Bond films.

For the punters, there’s still plenty of live racing of the three codes. For sporting lovers who aren’t punters, it’s been a case of delving in the archives to keep sane.

Thanks to YouTube, I’ve been able to watch replays of some of the extremely talented greyhounds I was privileged to call.

Rapid Journey’s sensational Queensland Cup win at Beenleigh in 1998; great bitches like Bogie Leigh and Flying Amy, the people’s dog Dashing Corsair. Search hard enough and you will find some replays of what they did so well – winning big races.

Like many Queenslanders, I started following greyhound racing when the Gabba track opened in Brisbane in 1972. Bomber’s Gal, Wybelina and Top Simbi were my first three heroes there, not that I was calling the Gabba at that time. I was one of several thousand people who went along as spectators and punters every Thursday night.

Prior to the Gabba, there was no radio or TAB coverage of the tracks which existed, including Lawnton, Beenleigh, Loganholme and Capalaba.  And Queenslanders never saw or heard a race from down south.

Ask you, me or anybody who is the best greyhound they have seen and you will get different answers. Since 1998 I have said Rapid Journey is the best I have seen and I still say that. But I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree.

Had I seen Zoom Top race, I might have her ahead of Rapid Journey. But she was a few years before my time.

Zoom Top won 68 of 136 starts, winning at distances from 292 to 795 metres. She set 15 track records and won the equivalent of eleven Group One races.

Looking at replays and written stories lately, I have uncovered a potential threat to Zoom Top’s position as our greatest ever. Does the name Travel Rev ring a bell? He raced just after Zoom Top retired.

Sydney’s Harold Park was deemed as the ultimate staying test with its 800 yards (732 metres) distance. Zoom Top won 14 races over that course. I cannot find how many starts she had over that trip. Travel Rev won 12 of his 13 starts over that 800 yards course, his only defeat being when he carried a broken wrist into second spot.

Travel Rev was so superior to the other stayers of the early 1970s that some rival trainers used to mark their nominations not to be drawn against the dog. Mind you, that probably happened with Zoom Top as well.

Zoom Top won the Association Cup over Harold Park’s 800 yards in 1968 and 1969. She ran 43.7 and 43.8 in those wins. Travel Rev won the race in 1971, running 43.6.

The doyen of greyhound racing writers, Jeff Collerson, wrote about Travel Rev – perhaps the greatest pure stayer of the modern era.

If, like Collerson, you were lucky enough to see Zoom Top and Travel Rev in action, I am envious.

When thinking about making comparisons, I always relate to the words of the great Bart Cummings when he was asked to rate his best horses.

“I don’t compare champions, I prefer to appreciate them,’’ he said.

Way to go for sure!

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