Jack Smith with PALAWA KING following his mind-blowing last-to-first Fanta Bale Stayers heat victory 📸 Clint Anderson

  • Wednesday, 21 Feb, 2024,
  • by Peter Quilty

All hail ‘Palawa’

It’s amazing to think almost four decades have elapsed since Bold Trease won the first of his four successive Group 1 Sandown Cups (1986-89).

But time waits for no one, and we now have a contemporary version (in racing pattern at least) of the immortal “Warrnambool Warrior” – NSW staying supremo, Palawa King.

Perhaps their colour, Bold Trease (fawn) and Palawa King (black) – and, of course, four Sandown Cups – being the only distinguishing features.

It’s almost intangible, but paradoxically there’s a certain aura about the ‘last-to-first’ barnstorming-type stayer.

Allow me to ramble on for a moment…

I collated my own ‘Book of Quotes’ – inspired by great world leaders and sportsman – in my much younger days.

And Palawa King has given me a flashback!

One quote I vividly recall reads: “The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” Probably an adaptation from Damon Runyon, a famous Depression-era New York journalist and short-story writer.

WATCH: “Charging through… What a win.” PALAWA KING (B3) stages a herculean last-to-first victory in a Fanta Bale Stayers heat.

Quite aptly, Palawa King is writing his own story – in Runyonesque style.

Trained at Forbes by Ray “Jack” Smith, Palawa King (Box 5) lines up in the $152,500 Group 1 Sportsbet Fanta Bale Stayers final (730m) – Race 8, 9.07pm – at The Meadows on Saturday night.

Last week, he looked ‘gone’ but staged a customary ‘come from the clouds’ exhibition to land his heat in 42.80sec. The run had to be seen to be believed!

Subsequently he’s Sportsbet’s $2.20 favourite – ahead of Zulu Blast ($3.20), who was the fastest heat winner in 42.71sec – to take out a $100,000 first prize.

“We’ve seen in other runs that he’s never ‘gone’,” Smith said. “He might do what he did in his heat 10 times and get through five times, it’s just the way of his style.

“We’re just having a bit of fun and enjoying it while it lasts.”

Smith is at a loss to explain why ‘dropping out’ after box rise is in Palawa King’s racing DNA.

“He’ll just unleash at some stage, but hopefully he doesn’t leave it too late.”


“Maybe we need to get him to a ‘canine psychologist’,” he quipped. “I’ve got no idea. He just decides that’s how he wants to race.

“He’s always had bad box manners but can run similar sectionals as top sprinters in solo trials.”

Smith is anticipating yet another whirlwind finish from Palawa King in the final.

“He’ll just unleash at some stage, but hopefully he doesn’t leave it too late.”

In terms of comparisons with Bold Trease, Smith says “it would be great to have a stayer like that”. “They (champion come-from-behind stayers) are just good to watch.

“And it’s humbling to be mentioned in the same breath as Bold Trease, but you must put it into perspective. I don’t think Melbourne will be putting on a staying feature honouring ‘Palawa King’.”

Ironically, Palawa King won last year’s G1 Bold Trease on Melbourne Cup night at Sandown Park.

Owned by Errol Hughes, Palawa King (Jan ’21 Feral Franky x Maximum Dos) has won 23 races (with 10 seconds and 11 thirds) from 57 starts and $680,525 in prizemoney.

He’s contesting his seventh G1 final, having also won last year’s Queensland Cup and National Distance Championship. He was also third in both the 2023 Topgun Stayers and 2024 Zoom Top.

Palawa King will be striving to become the third NSW greyhound to claim the Fanta Bale Stayers in six years. He’ll be out to emulate Blue Moon Rising (2019) and Stanley Road (2021).

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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