By Neil Brown
probably only one greyhound that deserved to be the oldest member of the AGRA
Hall of Fame and that's the dog that is claimed to be Australian's Champion
of Champions Chief Havoc.
It is almost
impossible to compare eras but it's hard to argue with both Chief Havoc's race
record and more importantly his contribution to the Australian stud scene is
quite imposing. I think combined they almost put the champion out on his own,
I'm happy to let you be the judge.
In a time
following the Second World War, Chief Havoc was acclaimed to be the world's
fastest greyhound. His deeds captured the imagination of the nation and brought
crowds to the track in numbers never seen before.
commenced in the mid 40's in north-eastern New South Wales . Mr Russ Westerweller
a public trainer of Gunnedah and Mr Ernie Swan of Manilla decided to breed a
litter combining greyhounds they had raced by association. Westerweller had
raced and trained Naw's Own on lease from Swan. He also trained Trion an outstanding
greyhound bred by Mrs Swan, both dogs had clashed in the 1944 NCA Trophy.
call it luck or just good management that the gentlemen decided on a union between
the brilliant Trion, a greyhound who had won 40 races on 15 different tracks
in New South Wales and Thelma's Mate - a litter sister to Naw's Own. Whatever
the case it's a breeding philosophy that has stood the test of time and remains
a successful formula today.
was the first for both dogs and was whelped on September 12th 1944 ; it comprised
six dogs and two bitches. Entry the second and another prominent figure in the
Chief Havoc story Mr Jack Millerd of Werris Creek New South Wales . Millerd
sent a letter requesting a pup from the litter and purchased a five-week-old
fawn and white dog for eight guneas in October 1944.
or "Patches" as he was affectionately called, soon became an important
member of the Millerd family. Not only was he was reared in the backyard, but
the young pup had the run of the place from the time he arrived.
commenced his race career on the 20th of April 1946 at Grafton in a heat of
the Easter Maiden. He was backed off the map and won easily, returning to score
in the final two days later. It was to be the start of an astonishing career
that saw the champion tagged as the "World's fastest greyhound" and
" a wonder dog".
was Chief Havoc as a race dog, fellow trainers refused to nominate against him.
Millerd had no alternative than to compete in a number of match races and exhibition
talked about exhibition was on May the 24th of 1947 at Harold Park. A crowd
of 17,000 fans packed the complex to witness Chief Havoc's solo attack on all
existing Harold Park records.
of discs were erected at points, which corresponded with six distances over
which races had been run at Harold Park since a new track had been opened in
1936. A light was installed at each disc, which was to flash on when the record
time for that particular distance showed on an official timer. Chief Havoc broke
the 440 yards record, equalled the 500-yard record and broke the 660, 700, 750
and 800-yard records.
race record was one to behold, he raced on 36 occasions over distances ranging
from 300 to 800 yards recording 26 wins, five seconds and two thirds.
He set or
equalled records in races at Harold Park, Wentworth Park , Bathurst , Dubbo,
Dapto, Tamworth , Maitland, Wollongong , Gosford, Parkes, Lismore, Casino, Cessnock
He is probably
the only greyhound in history that has had his name emblazoned on the front
pages of Sydney Daily Newspapers.
commanded a stud fee of 25 pounds when the average fee at the time was five
to ten. Millerd had resisted many substantial offers for Chief Havoc during
his race career knowing full well his greyhound's stud potential on retirement.
He couldn't have been more correct in his judgement. Chief Havoc's deeds as
a sire are legendary.
no less than 453 litters earning around 14,000 pounds in stud fees. If you consider
it was the late 40's and early 50's it was a small fortune.
outstanding race dogs that became influential sires and created dam lines that
produced champions for over 20 years. If fact the first 15 New South Wales Greyhounds
Of the Year were all direct descendants of the wonder dog. It's fair to say
that together with three or four others. Chief Havoc would rank as one of, if
not the best Australian sires ever to stand at stud in this country.
exploits weren't confined to only Australia . Some of his progeny left an indelible
mark on the breeding scene in America as well. The Champ's greatest honour was
being inducted in April 1974 to the American " Hall Of Fame" in a
ceremony held in Abilene , Kansas .
passed away peacefully in his sleep in 1957 aged 13 and was buried beneath a
tree at the near by Gunnedah track. The club later erected a life-sized monument
of Chief Havoc that stands at the track's entrance not far from his resting-place.
As a final
chapter a moving moment certainly for this writer and many others no doubt,
came at the 2001 induction of Chief Havoc into the AGRA Hall of Fame. The presentation
was held at the Nationals Gala dinner before a packed house in the dining room
at the Meadows.
by the whole occasion, Jack Millerd's widow Mrs Beryl Kennedy who had made the
trip down from Gunnedah to except the award. Was almost unable to speak such
was her heart felt emotion for the memory of what Chief Havoc had meant to her
family. It was an explanation of pride where silence told a thousand words and
it was a moment I'll never forget.
Havoc a true legend in every sense of the word.
As host of
that awards night I took the opportunity to do something in public I'd never
done before. To the full house of invited guests from all over Australia I recited
the following Poem. It was to honour the great champion, as I don't think many
greyhounds in history have had a Poem penned in honour of their name. Here is
Neville Fisher's tribute to the champion, simple titled.
SON OF GUNNEDAH
Now gather round you punters and bookies here tonight,
We want to draw attention to an important oversight,
There's a wonder dog in question made coursing history,
This hound was named CHIEF HAVOC and is buried by this tree
Born a real Australian, won races by the score,
With a heart as big as Phar Lap and the brains of trainers galore,
Tonight we all should toast him, a son of GUNNEDAH.
A brave and honest coursing dog, as good ones mostly are,
Tonight we should remember him, as all here will agree
They never breed them better than the old hound by the tree.
And sometimes on a race night, when the bunny starts to whirr,
And the traps spring open I'm sure the old CHIEF stirs
And listens fill the punters have all gone home, Too soon,
Then he has a final gallop by the pale light of the moon.
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