Great Races at Hove Stadium - 1977 Regency Final

THE final of the 1977 Joe Coral Regency (670 metres), described by local bookmaker Charlie Miller, “as one of the most exciting races I have ever seen”, provided an absolute thriller for 3,000 racegoers and the competition is now etched in greyhound racing folklore.

The George Curtis-trained Bonzo, a multiple big-race finalist, put in a storming late finish to succeed the mighty Glin Bridge on the hallowed list of Regency champions and the merit of the performance prompted his place among a pantheon of Hove’s all-time greats.

BONZO: The George Curtis-trained star thrilled a huge crowd when landing the 1977 Regency final at Hove.

The near misses of Bonzo in the Ladbroke Golden Jacket, BBC TV Trophy and GRA Stakes were all forgotten as he stormed to victory over the great Westmead Champ (11-8f), the reigning title-holder, in a final worthy of the occasion.

Westmead Champ, the joint 1976 Greyhound of the year alongside Greyhound Derby victor Mutts Silver, trapped very quickly and set up a big lead when Take Your Place (13-8), locally-trained by Gunner Smith, was knocked over at the third bend by 40-1 outsider Creadon Super.

WESTMEAD CHAMP: The 1976 Regency champion and one of the all-time great stayers.

Take Your Place, recently beaten a short-head into the runner-up spot behind Scurry Gold Cup champion Wired To Moon over Hove’s 500 metres, was having only his second outing over 670 metres on home soil when chasing home Westmead Champ in the preliminary round and may pundits expected him to reverse those placings.

However, Bonzo (9-2) relentlessly clawed back the deficit and sent his home fans into raptures by inching his way to the front in the shadow of the winning post and scoring by a length-and-a-quarter from Westmead Champ in 40.03sec.

The entries that were eliminated in the first round heats: Fly By Night (West, White City), Dundee Park (Milligan, Private), Pla Irish Imp (Puzey, Walthamstow), Westmead City (Price, Private), Westmead Bogey (Rees, Wimbledon), Bangor Boon (Coughlan, Crayford), Hunday Fred (Curtis, Hove), County Line (Ryall, Wembley), Byron (Maltby-Baker, Private), Fountain Valley (Rees, Wimbledon), Your Time (P. Milligan, Private), Assassinator (T. Dickson, Slough). Reserve Langford Dacoit (Curtis, Hove).

1977 JOE CORAL REGENCY (670m) RESULT – Saturday 7 May

1 BONZO (1) 9-2 G. Curtis

2 WESTMEAD CHAMP (2) 11-8F P. Heasman

3 WESTPARK PUTTER (5) 33-1 P. Rees

4 WESTPARK KALE (3) 10-1 P. Rees

5 CREADON SUPER (4) 40-1 T. Dennis

6 TAKE YOUR PLACE (6) 13-8 G. Smith

40.03sec 1 1/4, 3 ½, 5 ¼, 2 ¼ , dis.