There’s nothing more exciting than a match race.
Two evenly matched combatants racing head to head with the fastest athlete on the day emerging victorious. It’s racing in its most pure form, a fantastic talking point as well a brilliant spectacle.
Match racing was a common occurrence in the early days of the sport but prior to the introduction of the Speed Star at Sandown Park in 2015, it had been decades since the last match race was held on a track. However interest in head to head racing has grown considerably since the introduction of the Speed Star. New Zealand introduced the ‘Amazing Chase’ in 2017 showcasing that country’s best sprinters, a match race was one of the highlights in the recent State of Origin series at Queensland’s Albion Park, and a similar concept will serve as a lead up to the upcoming Adelaide Cup.
This Thursday night, we look forward to the ‘Battle of the Brothers’, a match race between the sport’s two premier stayers Tornado Tears and Rippin’ Sam over 595m.
Interest in this match-up has been phenomenal, and that is not a surprise. Tornado Tears is the boom chaser in Australian greyhound racing, having won three group 1 races and almost half a million dollars in prize money from just 26 starts. His litter brother Rippin’ Sam – himself a group 1 winner – was once deemed the heir apparent to Fanta Bale’s title as Australia’s premier stayer before being usurped by his kennel mate.
Trainer Robert Britton has long believed there’s not much between them, and the difference in their records is largely a reflection of their racing styles – Tornado Tears blessed with more early speed while Rippin’ Sam surges from the back of the field – and that Rippin’ Sam gets his opportunity in this format given he doesn’t need to negotiate a passage through a crowded field.
There’s no prize money on the line – this a pure exhibition between two of the sport’s hottest names. It’s greyhound racing in its most pure form and promises to be a brilliant spectacle.
For mine, I’m tipping Tornado Tears to improve his record against Rippin’ Sam to 8-0, but I don’t think the margin will be big. There was only a head between them after 595m in their most recent outing, the group 1 Crocmedia National Distance Championship, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a similarly close margin on Thursday night.
Make sure you tune in to Sky Racing 1 at 7.10pm on Thursday night to see history in the making!
Here’s a look at some of history’s most memorable (and most unique) match races.
Half Your Luck vs New Mariner
Sandown Park, 1 November 1973
The last two-dog match race held at Sandown Park prior to the introduction of the Speed Star saw great rivals Half Your Luck and New Mariner. Half Your Luck led New Mariner 7-1 and would improve his record when winning the match race by three lengths.
The race drew an extra 2000 people through the gate, and connections of both greyhounds donated their winnings ($1500 combined) to the Sporting Globe’s Royal Children’s Hospital appeal.
The pair met again 14 days later, with New Mariner exacting his revenge by winning the Melbourne Cup.
Shady City vs Bold Trease
Harold Park, 20 June 1987
More than 5000 people poured into Harold Park to witness the duel between the ‘Warrnambool Warrior,’ Bold Trease and local star Shady City. Renown as one of history’s greatest swoopers (if you haven’t seen his four Sandown Cup wins, jump on YouTube and check them out), Bold Trease swept past Shady City at the first turn and raced to a five length lead down the back straight. But to the amazement – and delight – of the NSW crowd, Shady City railed brilliantly in the home straight to reel in the ‘Warrnambool Warrior’ and claim a two length victory.
Bold Trease gets run down(!) by Shady City
The Hound Madness Stakes
Southland, USA, March each year
There is no other series like it in the world.
Run concurrently with the NCAA Basketball Tournament each March, the $25,000 Hound Madness Stakes sees 64 greyhound embark on the five round series with the final round decided by a match race!
Wolf Pack defeats Wolverine in the 2017 Hound Madness tournament
Seabiscuit vs War Admiral
Pimlico, USA, 1 November 1938
Not greyhound racing sure, but still one of the great match races in history. Dubbed the ‘Match of the Century’, underdog and people’s champion Seabiscuit defeated War Admiral, a Triple Crown winner and one of the racing establishment’s great stars in an event that invigorated post-depression America. More than 40,000 people streamed into the Baltimore course, forcing the club to open the infield to alleviate the crush of the crowd. It is estimated that one in three Americans were tuned in to the race, including president Franklin D Roosevelt who paused all business during a cabinet meeting to hear legendary sports broadcaster Clem McCarthy (who called the race by the winning post since he couldn’t get to the broadcaster’s box) call ‘Seabiscuit by three! Seabiscuit by three!’
The ultimate underdog Seabiscuit defeats the great War Admiral on his own turf in the greatest match race of the 20th century