Now the dust has almost settled on Miata’s incredible career following her narrow but gallant defeat in the Sandown Cup, the question has to be asked about her overall place in the pantheon of champions.
Forget the hyperbole of the present where there are those who suggest Miata to be the best greyhound to have ever raced. She’s not. Incredibly fast, yes. A fighting heart, yes. A sensational overall career record, yes. The best ever, no.
So, you are probably asking, who was the best ever?
That’s an argument all on its own, but among those who can stand back and smell the roses as well as the bat guano, there’s generally a consensus which reduces the truly sensational to about six greyhounds. In chronological order they are Chief Havoc, Macareena, Rookie Rebel, Zoom Top, Rapid Journey, and Brett Lee.
One argument often advanced for one being better than the other is the number of track records accumulated by each of these champions.
If that were to be the only criteria then it’s a dead-heat between Chief Havoc and his daughter Macareena. More on that later.
Miata, with nine track records on four tracks and over five distances is almost as good an effort as Brett Lee’s nine track records, except he did it on seven tracks and seven distances.
Miata and Brett Lee are the two standouts in terms of annexing track records, so far, in the twenty-first century.
Yet both their efforts almost pale into insignificance when measured against Zoom Top, Macareena, and Chief Havoc.
Between 1967 and 1970, Zoom Top set or equalled 15 track records on 12 tracks and over 11 distances.
In those days times were brought to the nearest tenth of a second, unlike today when they’re to the nearest hundredth, so equalling track records was not as difficult as it is today.
Of course, a greyhound running, say, 26.4 to equal the Harold Park track record, might actually have run as fast as 26.35. Equally, the greyhound credited with the track record might only have gone 26.44.
Even if we discount Zoom Top’s efforts where she only equalled an existing time, she still collected an incredible 11 track records on nine courses and over distances from 500 to 870 yards (457 to 795 metres).
Macareena, who competed from 1953 to 1956, set or equalled 18 track records on 10 courses and over 11 distances. If you take out the equal track records and those set under match race conditions, Macareena still accrued 13 records on seven circuits and over nine distances.
Finally, Chief Havoc, who competed between 1946 and 1948, also set or equalled 18 track records on 13 racecourses and over 12 distances. Removing the equal records he also finished with 13 track records of his own on 11 tracks and over nine distances.
Note: in much of the literature written about both Chief Havoc and Macareena the suggestions are that Chief Havoc set 19 track records and Macareena 20. Yet all the evidence I have been able to find only shows both with 18. Either way, they’re remarkable performances.
None of the above is meant to denigrate the efforts of Miata in any way. There is no doubt her place in the top ranks of greyhounds to have raced in Australia at any time in history is secure. It’s just important to be reminded great deeds are not just the preserve of the Internet Age.