Tasmanian stayer Bell Haven overcame box six to score in the final of Sydney Cup on Saturday night 13 October, and in doing so became the first from the Apple Isle to annex one of the four major harbour city distance events.
As I wrote in my preview, trainer Ted Medhurst is a legend in his home state and he has been around long enough to get a pretty good idea of the ability of his charges. He clearly considered Bell Haven had what it takes to score a major victory on the mainland, and the result is now history.
To put Bell Haven’s achievement into perspective, she is only the 12th Tasmanian greyhound and the third stayer from that state to have won a major race on the mainland in the last 54 years.
Of course it was only four years ago that Shane Whitney’s remarkable pair of Chinatown Lad and Fallen Zorro were carrying all before them in the distance races across the nation.
That 2008 romp through the trophy cabinets saw Chinatown Lad win the Albion Park Gold Cup, downing Fallen Zorro; the Chairman’s Cup, with Fallen Zorro third; the Interstate Stayers’ Challenge at Cannington; and the Sandown Cup, again beating Fallen Zorro.
For her part, Fallen Zorro annexed the Australian Stayers’ Invitation at Cannington; Hume City Cup at the Meadows; the Carnival Cup at Sandown; the McKenna Memorial; and the Sir John Dillon Memorial.
It’s unlikely we will ever see such a grand pair of stayers again.
Tasmanian sprinters have fared less well than the likes of their ‘half-miler’ counterparts.
In 1958, Ebony Minda became the first Tasmanian to snare a major race on the mainland when taking out the NSW St Leger (now called the Paws of Thunder) at Wentworth Park.
Meadowvale was successful in annexing the prestigious Australian Cup at Olympic Park in 1960.
It was 14 years before a Tasmanian again took centre stage and the race happened to be the 1974 Queensland Cup, run at Beenleigh. The much-travelled and very classy Northop Tuesday snared the long-running event. She made the finals of a number of major races and was unlucky enough to meet the brilliant Ebony King in both the 1974 and 1975 Tweed Heads Galaxy finals, running second and then third to him.
In 1984 the National Sprint Championship final was run at Harold Park and the Tasmanian representative Busy Vintage proved himself one of the best speedsters in Australia with a commanding victory.
In 1987 the former Tasmanian Crotty Kid won the last Winter Stake run at Harold Park.
Jamella Prince proved he had what it takes to win restricted age events when winning the South Australian Derby in 1998 and the Silver Chief Classic the following year.
In 2005, Lillipilli Power did what Northop Tuesday tried to do twice, and snared the Tweed Heads Galaxy.
Then in 2007 Fergalicious took out the Young Star Classic at Wentworth Park.
The last Tasmanian sprinter to win a mainland final with Group status was Decembrist in 2011 when he easily won the long-standing Richmond Derby.
With such relatively lean pickings over so long a period Tasmanians should rightly celebrate the performance of Ted Medhurst and his grand little stayer Bell Haven.