Graeme Bate is on record as suggesting his undefeated sprinter Barcia Bale reminds him very much of his former champion Kantarn Bale. So far, the comparison is spot on. After all, nine starts for nine wins is a rarity in Australian racing.
Indeed, I am aware of only 12 other greyhounds that have won at their first nine or more races. Only three of these are Victorians: Ima Turner, who won his first 13, in 1979; Satan’s Legend, who won his first 10, in 1977; and Welcome Stranger, a winner of his first nine, in 1989. The record holder for the most successive wins before tasting defeat is the former NSW sprinter Promises Free who won her first 14 on end between 1981 and 1982.
Of course, as I have consistently beaten the drum about this in the past, there is no central register of performances or database stretching back through the almost 90 years of mechanical hare racing in this country from which to draw information. So, there may well be more than 12 ‘stars’ in the firmament of early success, but if there are then they are well hidden.
Be that as it may, this coming Saturday night Barcia Bale will exit box three in the final of the Maturity Classic in an attempt to make it 10 straight and equal Satan’s Legend, another Maturity Classic winner.
Back then, Satan’s Legend made it 10 starts for 10 wins in the semi-final of the 1977 Shepparton Cup. He was beaten into fourth place behind Near History in the final. [Readers please note: this is a correction to the earlier story. My thanks to Gold Guide’s Peter Pearson for noticing my error and making contact to see it was corrected]
Satan’s Legend would return to contest the 1978 Maturity Classic, scoring an effortless seven lengths win in the final.
The Maturity Classic is possibly Australia’s premier ‘bad age’ race. While the Silver Chief has, arguably, produced more top-class performers than, say, the National Derby, the Maturity has probably outperformed them both.
Inaugurated in 1970, the Maturity Classic was only for male greyhounds for its first three runnings, but in 1973 it was opened up to the fairer sex as well.
Some of the outstanding winners are Temlee (1974), the aforementioned Satan’s Legend (1978), Pharaoh’s Mask (1986), New Tears (1987), Hay Dinney (1988), Northern Legend (1995), Adrenalin Storm (1998), Brett Lee (2001), Hallucinate (2004), Train A Journey (2006), Paddy’s Flame (2008) and El Grand Senor (2010).
The race has witnessed some excellent beaten greyhounds as well. For example, some of the runner’s-up include Sylvan Prince (1974), Freewheeler (1988), Cattle Drive (1996), and Chicago Blue (1997).
Other notable finalists have been Paradise Street (seventh 1996), Now Running (third 1997), Ringside Fire (fourth 1997), Solve The Puzzle (sixth 1998), Arvo’s Express (sixth 1999), Bombastic Shiraz (fourth 2003), Sparge Banner (sixth 2003), Pure Octane (fourth 2005) and Kilty Lad (fourth 2011).
Barcia Bale will undoubtedly start a very short-priced public elect for the final, but Bate also has a wonderful second–stringer in Desalle Bale, unbeaten in four starts at the Meadows and a winner of her last six.
In 2011, Bate snared the quinella with Shereen Bale and Stefan Bale, and 2012 could easily see a similar result. Last year’s success was his first in the race since it moved to the Meadows in 1999, but his fifth overall.