AN OFFER TO GIFT A GREYHOUND

“It is an absolute honour and privilege for the Auckland GRC to host the Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar,” advises Auckland chairman John Roberts.

Roberts’ comment came following the sad April 9 passing of Prince Phillip, the Duke Of Edinburgh, aged 99 and just prior to his 100th birthday.

“The Silver Collar is New Zealand’s most prestigious race – year in and year out we witness an outstanding contest,” added Roberts about “Our Great Race”

Prince Phillip raced numerous greyhounds in England highlighted by his victory with Camira Flash in the 1968 English Derby.

It was just prior to the 1970 Royal Tour of New Zealand when the Auckland GRC, being aware of the Duke Of Edinburgh’s involvement in greyhound racing, made an offer to gift a greyhound to him.

The offer was accepted by Prince Phillip who advised the greyhound was to remain and race in New Zealand and directed all winnings won by the greyhound be forwarded to the New Zealand arm of the Duke Of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Prince Phillip was introduced to his greyhound, the appropriately named bitch Royal Commission, on board the royal yacht Britannia when berthed in Auckland for the 1970 Royal Tour of New Zealand.

While Prince Phillip was patting the greyhound, club officials asked the Duke if an annual race commemorating the visit could be named after him.

Prince Phillip accepted and immediately advised that he would donate a trophy for it. On his return to London the Duke commissioned the royal jewelers Bravingtons to design and make the trophy. They created a stunning dog collar crafted in solid silver.

Prince Phillip
Camira Flash The Greyhound Champion Owned By Prince Phillip

The race was to be a staying event, named the Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar. The first running was held over 711m at the Kumeu Raceway in 1971 with Royal Commission finishing second with the Ian Cole prepared Sandy Shane being the inaugural Silver Collar winner.

Royal Commission strongly prevailed the following year and when the Governor General of New Zealand at the time, Sir Arthur Porritt cabled Prince Phillip to advise him of the victory, he received a reply which included the comment, “Congratulations, give the dog a bone”.

Royal Commission completed the “complete set” when she finished third in the 1973 edition and not long afterwards, she was retired as the winner of 33 races. She entered the breeding kennels with her best whelping being an Auckland Cup winner Our Commission.

An audience with Prince Phillip was granted during subsequent New Zealand royal tours when the then Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar winning greyhound, along with connections, were invited on board Britannia.

Sunday 13th June 2021 the Auckland GRC will host the 50th running of the $100,000 Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar where yet another chapter will be written for Australasia’s toughest staying test over the gut-wrenching 779m journey.

“Sunday celebrates the 50th occasion that the Auckland GRC hosts the Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar. It is very fitting that the club will always have an association with the Duke Of Edinburgh,” stated John Roberts.

The victorious greyhound earns the right to momentarily wear the solid Silver Collar. Momentarily, because the value of the collar is such that it is always kept with the Auckland GRC. The race winner, along with their proud connections fleetingly receives the opportunity to be photograph with the Silver Collar – a moment they cherish forever. They walk away with a miniature version of the Silver Collar which is presented to them by the Auckland GRC.

The Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar has been contested at four different race venues. As mentioned, the Kumeu Raceway was the first of the venues. In 1976 the race headed to the Mt Smart Stadium where it was raced for over the extreme 832m race distance.

In 1984 the Auckland GRC temporary raced at the Claudelands Showgrounds in Hamilton with the Silver Collar runners being required to complete a demanding 753 journey on the big, sweeping track. It was in 1990 where the Silver Collar was first contested for at the current Auckland headquarters, the Manukau Stadium over today’s rigorous 779m trip.

DUKE OF EDINBURGH SILVER COLLAR

Previous Winners

Year  Greyhound                    Owner                           Trainer

Kumeu Raceway – 711 metres

1971  Sandy Shane                   V. Wilson                       I. Cole                  

1972  Royal Commission       Duke Of Edinburgh    J. Blakeley            

1973  Shanting Boy                 R. Boswell                    R. Boswell            

1974  Countess Maritza         L French                       J. French               

1975  Tornado                         K. Byers                         M. Hirtzell            

Mt Smart Stadium – 832 metres

1976  Kwik Flash                     R. Hughes                      R. Hughes             

1977  Barbie’s Zorro                M. Kimber                     M. Kimber            

1978  Ratios Image                  A. Dursma                     A. Dursma            

1979  Go You Halves               T. Green                         I. Close                 

1980  Celio Cohete                  F. Van Lier                     F. Van Lier           

1981  Zorro’s Magic                M. Kimber                     M. Kimber            

1982  Karamu Lass                  D. Faffow                       A. Cobain            

1983  I’m A Rookie                 W. Annette                     W. Annette           

Claudelands Raceway – 753 metres

1984  Sadella Gold             T. Green/D. McMillan    T. Green/D. McMillan 

1985  Bright Crystal           K. Flowers                     A.J. Cobain           

1986  Boogy Monster        P. Lubbock                     P. Lubbock           

1987  Super Bet                  P. Earley                        A. Cobain/L. Earley 

1988  Steiny Blue               T.A Green, J. Hamilton D. Schick T.A Green       

1989  Brydie Girl               D. Green, R. Roach, K. Preston T. A Green   * T/R

Earley_27_04_06

Peter Earley

Retired commentator Peter Earley has witnessed every Silver Collar since the inaugural edition in 1971 and has been an intricate part of the collar, having called every edition from 1973 on. Without fail he always injects so much excitement and enthusiasm into the race through his calls in every edition.

“You lift yourself for the big ones – the Silver Collar is the biggest. The collar race is always exciting – you are always waiting for things to happen at the finish. The race complexion always changes dramatically over the final few metres,” commented Earley.  He is quite right, as each year the Silver Collar has been contested it has resulted in a more than memorable contest.

Nancy Cobain
Nancy Cobain
nancy cobain

Nancy Cobain.

There is no question that the title of being the “Queen” of the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar firmly belongs to the NZ Hall of Fame mentor Nancy Cobain.

In total she conditioned five Silver Collar winners, amazingly spanning over the last three venues where the great race has been contested at.

In a mark of respect to Nancy, the Auckland club allowed the Silver Collar to be taken to Hawera (Taranaki) to attend her funeral service. There wasn’t a dry eye amongst those attending the service when the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar was placed on top of her casket as Nancy was farewelled.

There have been two greyhounds who have won two Silver Collar Finals.

Tivoli Tom

The first to achieve that distinction was the late Pat Patterson prepared grand stayer Tivoli Tom who prevailed in 1992 and 1994 Finals. Paterson was devastated about the 1993 edition when she had to withdraw her charge owing to a bout of kennel cough when adamant that he could have won that final.

Ring The Bell

Ring The Bell became the first Australian trained stayer to win the great race when Victorian conditioner Gerry O’Keefe crossed the Tasman to annex the 2017 edition. He left his stayer in the care of NZ Hall of Fame trainer Ray Adcock, who himself was a great friend and an intense training rival against Nancy Cobain.

Adcock set about winning many of the nation’s leading staying events with the Aussie stayer who he returned to the Manukau Stadium in 2018, masterminding Ring The Bell to again taste victory in the great race.  

Honorable mention has to be made of current Cambridge trainer Arch Lawrence who has bred, reared, trained and co-owned with wife Gloria three Silver Collar winners.

Gary Harding has also been compiling a tidy record as an owner of Silver Collar winners. He has enjoyed success in four Silver Collar finals, two of whom he trained himself, while Karen Walsh mentored his other pair of winners. 

The quality of the stayers lining up in this supreme staying event gets stronger and more competitive each year. For example, the Manukau 779m track record has been lowered on eight occasions in Silver Collar Finals (plus once in a heat) ever since Fairfield won the inaugural Manukau final for Wairarapa trainer Alan Hyslop. 

There is no question that of all the races on the national racing calendar, this is the one owners and trainers want the most.  The Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar is most definitely the crowning jewel of New Zealand greyhound racing!

Silver_Collar
Ring The Bell
Ring The Bell

John Goode was regarded by his training peers as a tough, uncompromising trainer of his Aqua prefixed named greyhounds. His training methods consisted of a fair amount of free running for his team. They would regularly be slipped in forest land that adjoined his Canterbury training base where they freely ran through a pine forest, riverbeds and other assorted terrain building immense stamina in doing so. It was that conditioning that saw Goode produce Aqua Rattle to win the 2000 Silver Collar. He returned the following year with Aqua Mouse, however on this occasion Goode handed over the training duties of his stayer to the late local conditioner Delys Van Meeuwen who applied the finishing touches to the 2001 Silver Collar victor.     

Yes, we all know about the extraordinary training achievement that Hall of Fame trainer Nancy Cobain achieved when mentoring five Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar winners. Therefore, it was entirely appropriate that the Auckland GRC allowed the prized Silver Collar to be taken to Hawera for Nancy’s funeral service. The silver Collar brought a tear to the eye when sitting on top of Nancy’s casket during her service.

Peter Earley has called an amazing 47 Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar Finals. For a period during the mid-1980’s Earley and partner Lynn trained with Nancy Cobain from her Manaia (Taranaki) training base from where he travelled for his commentary commitments.  It certainly would have been an “easy” drive home from the Hamilton located Claudelands track following 1987 Silver Collar final. The reason? Earley gleefully called home Super Bet to win the 753m race – she was a stayer he owned!

The then Canterbury based conditioner John Allen drove around New Zealand for years with a cigar tucked away in the glove box of his van. He had vowed not to open and smoke the cigar until he prepared a Group 1 race winner. That opportunity came when his stayer To The Peg prevailed in the 2002 Silver Collar final. Allen thoroughly enjoyed taking long pulls on his “aged” cigar!

As mentioned elsewhere Peter Earley, the ‘voice of the Silver Collar’, year in and year out delivered numerous colourful commentaries on the great race. How about this gem?

During the 2001 Silver Collar running Astro Teddy quickly built what appeared to an unassailable race lead after cutting out the first 318m of his task in near track record (318m) time. Estimates of his race lead down the back straight the second time were around 15 or so lengths. At the judge he was a rapidly fading fourth with Earley chipping in with this classic one-liner – “Astro Teddy is jumping up and down on a pogo stick”!  

Pat Patterson was adamant that if a bout of kennel cough hadn’t intervened, then her outstanding stayer Tivoli Tom would have won an unprecedented three consecutive Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar finals. Tom was withdrawn from the 1993 series owing to the cough after he used his strength to powerfully annex the 1992 and 1994 editions.

It must be acknowledged that Tivoli Tom not only won two Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collars on the track, but also injected his “royal blood” into two Silver Collar winners! Upon his retirement he was put to stud with “grass roots” industry participants Tom and Jill McGillivary utilizing his services. The couple prepared Tom’s progeny Gotta Cruise 1997 and Bet On Bessie 1998 (Gotta Cruise finished second) to take out back-to-back honours for the couple in their Siver Collar assignments. Both victories were highlighted by Jill doing a “jig” at the podium. Pawnote: Both off the McGillivray stayers claimed Silver Collar second placings in the year after their respective victories.  

An inadvertent mistake, which led to a positive swab saw the quality Australian stayer Sweet It Is disqualified from the 2015 Silver Collar Heat and Final. The Victorian was sent across the Tasman by her trainer Brayden Finn into the care of a caretaker trainer with instructions to purchase and feed a certain brand of well-known kibble. Unfortunately, a “domestic” brand of the kibble was mistakenly brought and fed to Sweet It Is. The product included a “green tea extract” which led to the positives and resultant disqualifications. Sweet It Is broke the Manukau 779m track record when storming to her effortless victory. Obviously, the time wasn’t recognised.

The $46,000 winning stake was picked up by the promoted runner-up Shandell, with her trainer Arch Lawrence describing the win as a “clayton’s victory” at the time. Incidentally it is known that Finn collected a very significant sum, the proceeds a large fixed odds wager he had on his stayer.

Torrential Queens Birthday weekend rain tried its best to disrupt the running of the 2018 Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar heats at the Manukau Stadium

The meeting was only saved thanks to the brilliant work by many, including club management and stipendiary stewards.  Over 100mm of rain fell around the Manukau region on Sunday morning resulting in severe flooding, including volumes of water that cascaded down onto the track from an extremely heavily flooded trainers’ car park. That deeply gouged out the track on the bend just prior to the 527m traps, ultimately leading to the transfer of the race meeting to Monday afternoon

The recovery work undertaken was remarkable and the meeting was duly completed on the Monday in rainy conditions. Just after the running of the last race the skies opened up again with rain that was so torrential that there would have been no way races could have been run in it.

Ben & Barbara Craik admire at just how stunning the 2005 Silver Collar looks around Rivette Reason’s neck. Owned by the Closely Related Syndicate celebrations for this victory extended well into the night.

CHEEKY BONNIE
CHEEKY BONNIE
Fahey dominate
Fahey dominate
VARVATOS
VARVATOS
SWIFT FANTASY
SWIFT FANTASY
nina girl
Silver Collar History

Silver Collar Reviews

2007 – NOTHING CHEEKY ABOUT BONNY

It was all Cheeky Bonnie as she toyed with her opposition in a rather contemptuous manner when winning the 2007 edition of the $40,000 Commercial Plumbing Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar.

That performance translated itself into a track record for the 779m Manukau Stadium endurance test. The David Schofield trained stayer did not just break the old time standard of 46.40s held by Prince Toshack – she destroyed it, as her free-wheeling time of 46.26 seconds suggests.

This was one very-special performance as Schofield acknowledged immediately post-race. “Lilly (kennel name) is an immense stayer – that was a phenomenal gallop,” he advised.

When the traps lifted it was the green vest worn by the Ray Adcock trained Like A Storm who scurried into the early lead, cutting clear and defying the balance of the field to run him down.

It took Cheeky Bonnie until they were on the home turn to master the pacemaker, but in the end the fawn, January 2004 whelp basically left them to it, cruising home with four and a half lengths to spare for her Australian based owners, the Tracsan Racing Syndicate.

Battling in second was the race favourite Special Sage for trainer John McInerney. He had loomed into contention over the later parts, but he just could not stay with the low-flying bitch.

Rattling home late and coming from an initial fair way off the pace was the winner’s kennel mate Cawbourne Baron to claim third.

It was an incredible race meeting for the Schofield training operation as apart from the snaring the big one, the Huntly based operation trained five other winners on the 10-race card.

FAHEY’S DOMINATE 2008 SILVER COLLAR

 “She is a hard, tenacious chaser, who will never give up,” commented co-trainer Dave Fahey when celebrating the amazing victory that the wonderful stayer, Winsome Dosh he trains in partnership with his wife Jean delivered in the 2008 running of the $70,000 Commercial Plumbing Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar.

This was a sublime training effort, as the Fahey’s also mentored the Group one quinella with Mr. Jazz finishing second, while they also provided the fourth placed runner Groovy Finance.

Winsome Dosh, who is owned by Opawa Racing Limited, assumed control of the race when the traps lifted and from that point the 26.5kg bitch defied her opposition to run her down – they could not as she arrived at the line with three-quarters of a length to spare over her hard chasing kennel mate Mr. Jazz in 46.99 seconds.

“It wasn’t until just short of the line that I felt Dosh had the race won. The whole Fahey team is just awesome,” commented Opawa racing’s manager Robin Wales.

Australian visitor Fort Shakin’ certainly added a tremendous amount of awareness and interest to the great race. The Ricky Bourke trained stayer, who started as the favourite had to settle, for a valiant third.

It certainly was a great day for the Fahey’s as they also provided the Commercial Plumbing Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar Consolation winner in the locally bred Elara.

A large on course crowd generated a tremendous atmosphere which contributed to a hugely successful Silver Collar meeting for the Auckland Club, with Final Field betting options pushing through the $100,000 barrier during the day.

VARVATOS SIZZLES HIS WAY TO 2009 SILVER COLLAR VICTORY

Varvatos produced a stunning display of powerhouse galloping which left his seven opponents grasping in his slipstream when the Gary Harding owned, and trained stayer crushed when delivering an emphatic victory in the 2009 edition of the Commercial Plumbing Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar.

The 779m endurance test was effectively over as a contest when the field reached the judge with a circuit of the Manukau Stadium track to run.

From that point the chase for the winning portion of the $75,000 stake had been put beyond reach, with Varvatos building on his race lead with every giant bound he took. That ultimately translated into a convincing nine and three-quarter length winning margin.

The enormity of his crushing victory was realized when his time was revealed at a stunning 46.15 seconds, or in other words a length and half faster than the previous best 779m clock.

Commentator Peter Earley, who was calling his 38th Silver Collar final, had quickly appreciated the slick pace set by Varvatos as he correctly called during his commentary a tad short of the line “are we’re going to see a new track record today?”

“When Varvatos jumped, and I saw Sudden Sam going with him early on I thought we’re in store for a beauty race. It added to the tension, however when he started to slip clear after the first lap, I thought then he was going to do it (win),” stated Harding.

“The race itself was a combination of excitement and nerves, which translated in relief when he got to the line first.

“This is the most prestigious race available to win in greyhound racing. To have now won it on three occasions is a very humbling feeling,” he added.

Harding owned and trained McDeebee to win the Silver Collar in 2004, while Karen Walsh trained Thrilling May to victory for Harding in 2006.

Lorraine Atchison, the breeder of Varvatos made the trip across the Tasman to watch the pup she had bred and reared contest this race. “Varvatos was always a standout when breaking in, showing enormous ability. I firmly believe that New Zealand, along with Gary and Linda (Harding) have brought the very best out of Varvatos.

“I’ve been very-impressed with what Gary has done with him and their facilities are the best in the world.

Obviously, there were no excuses for the beaten runners as they were comprehensively outstayed by the best stayer, at the time who has ever placed their paws on a New Zealand greyhound track.

However, youngster Sudden Sam confirmed his potential as a stayer when leading home the chasing pack for defending Silver Collar trainers Dave and Jean Fahey.

SWIFT FANTASY FLICKS ON TURBO CHARGERS FOR HER 2010 SILVER COLLAR WIN

Swift Fantasy comprehensively destroyed her 2010 Commercial Plumbing Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar opposition on a rain-sodden Manukau track.

The Steve Clark trained Swift Fantasy graphically illustrated what true staying racing is all about when the sensational stayer rewrote the definition of staying racing by convincingly outstaying a quality field of stayers in wet, slushy conditions at the Manukau Stadium in the $80,000 final.

The large on course crowd watched the 779m starting traps in keen anticipation which saw Swift Fantasy quickly dropping out to occupy her customary lonely tail end position.

With a lap of the dead track to race Swift Fantasy began to inch forward, contacting the backend of the field going down the back straight on the second occasion from where she commenced her renowned sustained finishing burst.

It was like Swift Fantasy simply flicked on the turbo chargers such was the great rate of knots she started to weave her way through this field of quality stayers. In fact, she was travelling so swiftly her biggest danger at that point was her cannoning into the back end of a tiring runner.

Swift Fantasy ranged up to the gallant pace-making duo of Rasmah and Sudden Sam when swinging for home, slipping past them with consummate ease, to dash clear for her convincing five and a quarter length win in a respectable 46.56 seconds.

Sustained cheering changed to spontaneous applause from the crowd throughout the Manukau Stadium when Lady (kennel name) completed her remarkable victory with commentator Peter Earley calling, “It’s not a dream – it’s a fantasy – it’s a Swift Fantasy.”

The Ben Craik trained Rasmah was super brave in clinging on for second, shading Sudden Sam who added a third placing to his runner-up finish last year for trainer Ray Adcock.

“This is a dream come true – I was very emotional when I realized she had won the Silver Collar. This win is the crowning moment for me in greyhound racing. Aside from the Waterloo Cup there is no other race on the national calendar I have desired to win,” an emotional Clark stated, who after four decades involvement in greyhound racing had finally secured the most prized trophy in the canine code.

“I thought Swift Fantasy had it won at the halfway point with my biggest fear being her copping a check when racing through the field. She is just an amazing greyhound and a fantastic advertisement for greyhound racing,” added a very relieved Clark.

Clark gratefully acknowledged the valued assistance he receives from his partner Kathy Wilson, along with others and added, “To have trained the winner of this race, beating home greyhounds in this race trained by Ben (Craik), Ray (Adcock) and the Fahey’s is amazing.”

Swift Fantasy’s owner Seamus Sutcliffe made the trip across from Melbourne. “What a star she is, absolutely thrilled because that was a sensational field she defeated tonight. She raced like that in Aussie and the stewards there did not like her racing style, so they put her out. I appealed the decision, won it only for them to put her out again. Her breeder Geoff Collins suggested to me that I send her over here (NZ), so I contacted Steve and the rest is now history.”

And Swift Fantasy had quickly developed “a cult” following via her Swift Fantasy fan club also with people outside of greyhound racing, with her and Clark featuring in a segment of the Crowd Goes Wild on the Prime TV network on Friday night, with the channel also providing a follow up, while  TV 3 news also showed the great race in their bulletin the following evening.

TOUGH 2011 SILVER COLLAR WIN

For the umpteenth time, the TV 3 Hounds $75,000 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar added another twist to its drama filled 38-year history when outsider Nina’s Girl mastered the pace making race favourite Thrilling Quest in the home straight and then being required to dig real deep over the final gut wrenching few metres as crowd favourite Swift Fantasy exploded home.

This 2011 edition Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar was set alight during the previous week’s round of heats when the Karen Walsh trained Thrilling Quest shattered the Manukau 779m track record when posting her slippery 46.08s clock.

Thrilling Quest bounded away from the favoured number one trap and immediately undertook the pace making role. She slipped through her first 318m sectional in 18.44s and completed her 527m sectional in another very smart 30.08s. Carting the field up behind her, although a margin behind was the Dave and Jean Fahey trained Nina’s Girl.

Meanwhile, as expected Swift Fantasy was as usual minding her own business lobbing along in her accustomed tailed off position for her trainer Steve Clark.

A feeling started to develop that finish was not going to be a one dog affair as the field was approaching the end of the back straight the final time. At that point Nina’s Girl was starting to take an appreciable amount of ground away from Thrilling Quest,

Swinging into the home straight for the final run to the judge Nina’s Girl, who had slipped through along the rail, collared the pacemaker to kick clear and although the crowd favourite Swift Fantasy, who was held up for a couple of strides at a crucial stage by the 603m traps when she was marginally impeded was rocketing home late, Nina’s Girl had three-quarters of a length to spare at the judge, who completed her task in a respectable 46.17s over Swift Fantasy with the same margin back to a tiring, but very gallant Thrilling Quest..

After having been caught out by the 2011 Silver Collar final being moved out by a week to avoid a clash with the Harness Jewels weekend, the Fahey’s were in Sydney over the weekend and watched the Silver Collar in the Bondi TAB. “We were yelling a bit when Nina’s Girl started to get close. Rapt with the result and thrilled for Ray (Amber, owner),” said Dave Fahey.

And what another stunning effort that Swift Fantasy delivered when seeking back-to-back Silver Collar victories. And let us not forget about Thrilling Quest who contributed immensely to this edition of the Silver Collar. She set the series alight with her breath-taking heat track record gallop and then her exceptionally brave effort in the final.

  1. CHINO STUNS OPPOSITION IN SILVER COLLAR VICTORY

For Arch Lawrence training a Plaster board Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar has been a long-held ambition. The Cambridge based trainer finally realized that long held goal when Mr. Chino won an incident pack contest in the 2012 $75,000, 779m staying test at the Manukau Stadium.

Mr. Chino seized the initiative when a first turn skirmish scuttled the claims of half the field of stayers. That melee allowed Mr. Chino to slip into a trailing position behind the free-wheeling pacemaker at that stage Freddy John. The order remained pretty much the same when racing down the back the last time in this endurance test which saw Mr. Chino grinding his way ever so closer to the pacemaker.

Lurking ominously just in behind was Thrilling Brat for Karen Walsh, who was looking to provide his breeder and owner Gary Harding with his fourth Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar winner. And the Steve Clark trained crowd darling Swift Fantasy was beginning to mount her sustained finishing burst from the rear, in what was her third and final Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar assignment.

Mr. Chino claimed a tiring Freddy John when swinging for home and he then held stoutly to nail his Group 1 victory by two-lengths over a gallant Thrilling Brat in 46.79 seconds. Finishing resolutely to claim third, a further two and a half lengths behind was a brave Swift Fantasy.

For Arch Lawrence, along with his racing partner, wife Gloria this victory ticked off their long-held ambition to win the holy grail of greyhound racing. The couple has traveled the length and breadth of New Zealand with their stayers for many years. They have been real staunch supporters of the staying greyhound; hence the thoroughly deserved accolade that was afforded them, despite the outsized $30.00 dividend that this heat winner returned.

“I felt numb when Mr. Chino hit the line – it was the realization that we had finally won the great race. I thought, thank bloody god we have finally cracked it. I guess, to be honest, we benefited from a bit of luck when that tangle up occurred – but hey, that is racing. I have been on the receiving end of similar incidents,” a relieved Arch Lawrence stated about this son of Big Daddy Cool and Mochaccino, adding, “This is the absolute ultimate – to have bred him and trained him to this victory in this most prestigious race is a sublime feeling.”

Thrilling Brat toughed it out for his placing, producing an effort that trainer Karen Walsh said, “I’m really rapt with him. He has had some issues, so I’m really proud of his performance – over the moon.”

For Swift Fantasy it was the conclusion of a marvelous career of a stayer who captured the imagination of the entire nation. It was her freakish finishing bursts that carried her from tailed off last positions to race victories that enthralled followers.

But for trainer Steve Clark and owner, Melbourne’s Shamus Sutcliffe, it is the end of an amazing journey. “I thought she had every chance of picking them up down the back straight, but I guess age has caught up with her. For Lady (kennel name) to finish in the first three was a fantastic effort.”

And a proud Sutcliffe said afterwards, “What a magic ride Swift Fantasy has provided me with. I cannot praise Steve and Kath (Wilson) highly enough with what they have done with Lady.”

And just like the instigator of the Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar, Our Commission, Swift Fantasy retired with the “full Silver Collar set” after having won the great race in 2010, finished as the runner-up in 2011 prior to adding her 2012 third placing.

BRAT POWERFULLY COMPETES HIS SILVER COLLAR QUEST

It was a sheer display of total power staying action that the star stayer Thrilling Brat produced when he ran his rivals ragged during his potent all-the-way victory in the 2013 $80,000 Plaster board Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar.

In doing so he delivered a slick 45.96s 779m gallop and that was despite this Karen Walsh trained stayers continued insistence on visiting the outside of the track in both straights.

Thrilling Brat, who was bred by Gary Harding and who owns him, was simply audacious in the manner he dictated the terms to his rivals throughout. He led them out from the six trap and there was nothing his gutsy, hard chasing litter sister Thrilling Quest could do about her rampaging brother when she threw everything, she could at him.

Thrilling Brat held a six-length margin over his sister, while the Arch Lawrence prepared Bornato delivered the race of his career to claim third a further two lengths behind.

For Walsh, this was the second stayer she has now mentored to victory in the great race, after Thrilling May was successful in the 2006 edition. But Harding is now turning the nation’s most prestigious race into his own personal domain. Aside from also owing Thrilling May, he trained and owned McDeebee (2004) and Varvatos (2009) to their respective wins. He has also owned the runner up on four occasions, plus he has had a third placed finisher.

“As soon as Brat was cleanly away and went straight into the race lead, I relaxed a bit and felt more confident. However, his wide racing antics still worries. Like when he came back past me after a lap he went out and was almost scrapping the outside fence. That really concerned me, although I relaxed a bit again when he cut down going into the bends.

“I was absolutely amazed by Brat on what he achieved in the race,” advised Walsh, while adding about Thrilling Quest, “She had no right what soever to finish where she did after the issues she had leading into this race.”

Thrilling Quest had been suffering from stopper pad abrasions leading into the previous weekend’s heats. As a result of those abrasions, she has not been off the lead for over two weeks, which obviously is not exactly the preparation needed going into grueling back-to-back 779m assignments.

Harding was not able to be on-course the watch his litter siblings, however he was still fairly bubbling when spoken to the following morning. “What a fantastic night. To run first and second in this race is the ultimate, especially after having bred both here on this property (Tirau).

“Full credit must go to Karen and I’m absolutely thrilled for her. She is so passionate about her dogs. It was Karen’s perseverance that got Thrilling Quest through that series. She spent countless hours working on her.

“And the relationship she has with Thrilling Brat has to be seen to be believed. You can see that they both deeply respect each other, while the synergy they have between each other is remarkable to watch. Believe me, he has been a real challenge right throughout his career – I couldn’t have picked a better racing name for him,” a proud Harding suggested.

BRANDO CHARGES TO 2014 SILVER COLLAR VICTORY

It was via internet connections around the world that the winning connections and the victorious trainer heard the strong pacing-making win that Lochinvar Brando produced to annex the prestigious 2014 $80,000 Plasterboard Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar at the Manukau Stadium.

Trainer Denis Schofield and wife Pam picked up the live Radio Trackside feed in London, while owner Claire Gordon was not able to make the Tasman crossing from Newcastle owing to attending a funeral, watching the Sky Racing coverage. Meanwhile her parents Kevin and Leonie Gordon, who are involved in the Lochinvar naming prefix, tuned into Peter Earley’s 42nd Silver Collar commentary while in New Orleans.

Kevin asked another daughter Heather to represent the family in Auckland and she and her partner Dane Enright arrived on-course just an hour before the big race after experiencing flight delays.

There was sensation shortly after the field of eight stayers were released from the 779m traps when Deanne’s Fantasy got involved in a fair amount of jostling during the early rush. She became unbalanced and fell. Remarkably and in very athletic style she rolled quickly back onto her paws to continue the race.

Copping the back wash from that incident were the favoured pair of stayers Little Teegan, who was forced to hurdle the fallen runner, while Thrilling Logic was also impeded. While this action was unfolding the Gordon Wilson prepared Jetsun Flame has secured the early race lead.

However, the heavily supported Lochinvar Brando ominously stalked her and took over the race lead with over a lap of the track to complete. It was a race lead that this son Where’s Pedro and Smart Betsy was never going to relinquish.

He was in cruise control down the back with Thrilling Logic having improved to lead the chase after the pace setter. Further back in the field Little Teegan was weaving her way throughout the field, strongly making up her early lost ground.

Lochinvar Brando never had any intention of being caught as he maintained his powerful gallop to repel the anticipated late challenge that was starting to emerge from Little Teegan. At the judge Lochinvar Brando held a length margin over the hard charging Little Teegan, returning a smart 46.23s in doing so. Thrilling Logic was a gallant third, just a half-length further behind.

“We were hopeful going into the race, nervous but very excited. When Brando jumped, we thought, yes, he can win it, but I also do not mind admitting it got a bit nail-biting at the finish. Over the moon when he won it – it is very exciting and rewarding when the efforts of everyone involved in this race was rewarded – very happy for everyone,” advised Heather Gordon.    

“We have thoroughly enjoyed our short time over here – we were very well looked after, and the hospitality was fantastic. We will be back over here in September, with my parents and Claire

The effort that Little Teegan put in to claim her placing was sheer guts and that certainly is not taking anything whatsoever away from the winner. “I guess in the big races you need that little bit of luck – we didn’t get any of that today,” reflected her breeder, co-owner, and trainer Arch Lawrence.

Karen Walsh was very proud of her charge Thrilling Logic in the manner that he claimed his third placing. “I considered that he would have to set the early pace, build a lead and then hang on if he were going to earn a stake today. Therefore, for Logic to pick himself up after that early trouble and then to get himself back into a stakes position and then hold on made me very proud of him. I’m over the moon with his effort – rapt,” she advised.

2016 SILVER COLLAR QUINELLA FOR ARCH

“I don’t care about any other race – the Silver Collar is my Melbourne Cup. It is the race I always chase after,” declared Arch Lawrence after he produced his litter sisters Teemaria and Shandell to quinella the 2016 $80,000 Plaster Board Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar.

It was the third occasion that Lawrence bred, co-owned (with wife Gloria) and trained stayers to win greyhound racings ‘Holy Grail’, the Duke’s solid Silver Collar. Mr. Chino won the great race in 2012, while Shandell was last year’s promoted winner of the tough, grueling 779m staying test.

As expected, it was the Ray Adcock prepared Can’t Catch Tim who led the field out from the ace-trap to adopt the pace-making role. The Lawrence bred sisters settled in the midfield.

The first stayer to make a significant forward move when approaching the final turn was Teemaria. It was a strong push forward, which quickly became apparent it was to be the winning move.

Swinging in for the run home, in what was condensing leading pack, it was still Can’t Catch Tim making the play. Teemaria was mounting her strong finish, while Shandell was advancing solidly after getting herself into clearer racing air.

It was like turbo switches flicked on for the sisters as firstly Teemaria sprung clear in a move that won her the Group 1 event, then Shandell did likewise when she cut clear from the pack. It was all about Teemaria who built herself a 3.5 length winning margin, stopping the clock in 46.52s. Shandell put a margin on the balance of the field when clearly nailing the runners-up prize, building a 4.25 length buffer over third.

Seeking Justice maintained his strong gallop to cut a gallant Can’t Catch Tim out third by a half-length margin. He was followed in by the Haley Mullane prepared Let’s Go Lettie with the gutsy Goldstar Jagger being the next to arrive.

“We’re over the moon – it sure was nice to have two dogs of their staying ability in the field. I did have some concerns earlier on and I was surprised when Shandell lost a bit of ground. I looked at Teemaria and was happy when I saw her in clear air. I knew Teemaria had them covered on the final turn, while I was really pleased with the way Shandell came home,” commented Lawrence, with the breeder then adding rather modestly, “I am lucky to have these types of dogs. They are lovely natured greyhounds.”

FIRST AUSSIE WINNER IN 2017 SILVER COLLAR

“I just love New Zealand,” commented Victorian greyhound conditioner Gerry O’Keeffe.

The affable Aussie has every reason to like the Shaky Isles. After all his potent stayer Ring The Bell annexed New Zealand’s premier staying race, the $80,000 Plasterboard Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar with ridiculous ease.

Easy – how does 11.75 lengths sound! It was a complete mauling of his opposition by the current Australian National Distance title holder who completed his 779m assignment in a tidy 46.22s.

As emphatic as that may sound, the leading Kiwi stayer Shandell must also be applauded. The Arch Lawrence prepared grand old lady of New Zealand staying ranks had contested her third Silver Collar final and she added another gutsy second placing to her runner up finish last year and victory in the great race the previous year.

It was also an extremely brave performance by the Gary Cleeve prepared Know Jinx who overcame jostling on several occasions to claim her third placing.

“For me, this win is bigger than either the Australian National Distance or the Sandown Cup winners I trained.” That is a massive statement by O’Keeffe, after all the A$250,000 Sandown Cup (715m) is the world’s richest staying event. He trained Ring The Bell’s litter sister Bells Are Ringing to win the 2016 edition.

O’Keeffe made the decision to tackle the Silver Collar after Disco (kennel name) powerfully won the Australian National Distance title in Adelaide over 731m.

“I was fully aware about the Silver Collar. Not only the prestigious nature of it, but also the gruelling 779m distance. I thought at that time the race would be ideal for Ring The Bell, thinking ‘geez I would like to have a crack at it.’

“I got the green light to proceed from Disco’s owners (Four Frothys syndicate) and I’m absolutely over the moon having pulled it off six months later,” he advised.

The retiree added, “I thoroughly recommend training greyhounds as the best therapeutic activity for retired persons. It is simulating both mentally and physical,” advised O’Keeffe about his decision to pick up the collars and leads again.

Ring The Bell’s victory attracted plenty of Silver Collar attention back in his home land. The Sky Racing Greyhound Catching Pen program carried extensive coverage, plus interviews was carried on Going Greyhounds on Sky radio and in the national weekly greyhound The Recorder publication.

We cannot complete this Silver Collar review without acknowledging the gutsy performance delivered by Shandell when attaining her third Silver Collar podium position and in doing so joined Our Commission and Swift Fantasy in achieving that distinction.

We mentioned above that this daughter of Mogambo and Teegan is the grand old lady of New Zealand staying. Let’s make that the iron lady of Kiwi staying. Now that really illustrates the saying ‘cast iron constitution’.

BACK-TO-BACK SILVER COLLAR WINS FOR RING THE BELL

Emphatic is the best way to describe the dominant win that the powerful stayer Ring The Bell produced when winning the $88,000 Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar at the Manukau Stadium.

Once again, the demanding Group 1 779m endurance test delivered on all expectations. A 24-hour deferment to the heats following torrential rain in the Manukau region, causing severe track damage added to the intrigue of the great race.

Brilliant remedial work undertaken by several people ensured the Silver Collars heats was contested on the Monday. Those heats were won by defending Silver Collar title holder Ring The Bell in 47.47s and the series favourite Dusty Gambler in 47.85s with the times reflecting the rain sodden nature of the track.

It was this pair of quality stayers who went paw to paw in an enthralling dual just six days later in the final.

Ring The Bell had secured the race lead with a lap of the track to run for his Kiwi conditioner Ray Adcock. The Karen Walsh prepared Dusty Gambler was recovering after losing momentum when he was checked entering the home straight the first occasion.

Racing down the back the second time Dusty Gambler seized the race lead from Ring The Bell and he looked set to maintain his unbeaten race record since he crossed the Tasman. Unfazed Ring The Bell responded as only great stayers can. He dug in really deep, and his grit and determination carried him to his second Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar victory.

His finish was so strong which saw him claiming his victory by a 3.75 length margin and completing his assignment in 46.50s.

Dusty Gambler was really gallant in holding down second, while Cristiane Cyborg rattled home late another length behind for her bold third for her conditioner Hayley Mullane.

It was a history making victory as Ring The Bell became the first back-to-back winner of the Silver Collar it its 48-race history. Tivoli Tom did win the 1992 and 1994 Silver Collar finals.

“The race panned out really nicely for Ring The Bell. He’s a real smart dog where he positions himself in his races – a true professional. I always thought his strength would greatly help him.

“I wish to thank all New Zealanders for their wonderful support for Disco (kennel name). He has such a great following over here. Full credit has to go to Ray Adcock,” said Glenn Pask from the owning Four Frothy’s syndicate.

“Ring The Bell is such a professional race dog who is an easy dog to handle around the kennels. Staying greyhounds are born and are not made and he had to be a true stayer to do what he did to win the Silver Collar.

“To keep on doing what he’s doing at his age (4.7 years) speaks volumes about him. This win was a team effort as I could not have achieved it without the help of the team at home,” said Adcock, who at the tender age of 84 finally trained his first Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar victor.

WESLYN DASHES TO HER 2019 SILVER COLLAR VICTORY

The 49th running of the Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar at the Manukau Stadium certainly lived up to the annual expectations of something special occurring in the 779m staying test – just like in all 48 previous editions of the great race.

The 2019 final was contested for a record $100,000 stake. The Craig Roberts prepared Dyna Weslyn was loaded away into the 779m traps as the red hot $1.40 favourite.

23-year-old Sam Lozell was the youngest trainer with a finalist in the field having qualified the massive 38kg $33 outsider Shooters Hill.

The up and coming and established Victorian greyhound commentator James Van de Maat had only weeks before commentated the world’s richest greyhound staying race, the 715m A$250,000 Sandown Cup in Melbourne. He made the quick dash across the Tasman to watch two stayers he bred, and part owns Vandagambo and Billy’s Bake contest the Silver Collar.

Three of the stayers mentioned above were required to return to the Manukau postrace podium.

As expected, Dyna Weslyn won the break from the tricky five trap. Then Addington 732m track record breaker speared out to her anticipated huge lead, being around ten lengths in front of her rivals at the halfway point.

That lead was to quickly evaporate. Firstly, Billy’s Bake made a short-lived dab at the pacemaker. Then his Gerry O’Keefe mentored kennelmate Vandagambo made a forward move. Stalking him during that move was Shooters Hill.

It turned into a frenetic grandstand finish with Dyna Weslyn taking some real short paw steps at the business end as Shooters Hill charged at her. After 46.48s of hard out chasing action, it was Dyna Weslyn who held on for the victory by a rapidly diminishing head margin.

As Peter Early called about Dyna Weslyn – “she’s the Queen – just.” He said about Shooters Hill – “Enormous.”

Vandagambo maintained his solid gallop and was rewarded with the third placing a further 3.75 lengths behind. 

“I was really relieved when the line came up. From where I was standing, I was not sure if she had held on. Luckily, she had enough left in the tank to nail the win,” commented a thankful Craig Roberts.

“Weslyn is a special wee dog, the complete racing package. She handles everything that’s thrown at her and I’m so proud and privileged to train her,” added Roberts about the Brenden Wheeler, Sydney owned greyhound.             

Lozell was pinching himself back at the podium after the super effort put up by Shooter’s Hill. He was not even born when his recently deceased grandfather Max Mathews trained Cuties Sister to win the 1995 edition of the Silver Collar.

“Having a runner in the Silver Collar final has always been a dream for me ever since I was a kid. I was absolutely stoked to have Shooters Hill on the podium afterwards. I thought he was a chance of getting some of it when he improved when racing down the back straight,” stated Lozell.

“Rapt, that was a great effort by the boy to place. It was fantastic to be part of such a prestigious race. I’m really pleased we made the trip across here – we were extremely well looked after,” said Van de Maat about Vandagambo, while he also called two of the support races on the card.

Mr Chino
Mr Chino
Thrilling Brat
Thrilling Brat
Silver Collar History
A Lawrence
Lawrence Award
Gary O'Keefe
Ring The Bell
Ring The Bell
Weslyn
Weslyn