Inductee Hall of Fame 2022
Red Brindle bitch, Whelped March 1972, (Black Tuesday – Fair Starlet), Owners – Syd and Mona Gangell, Trainer Syd Gangell (West Moonah)
The lightly raced and injury-prone sprinter Mona’s Beauty enters the Hall of Fame as a different type to most inductees. Though highly talented elsewhere, she was so freaky at the T.C.A., she drew serious comparisons with the incomparable queen of Hobart, Ophir Doll.
Sydney Alfred Gangell was born in Hobart on 12 September 1926. From a poor family, he was raised at Forcett, 33 kilometres east of Hobart. He only started school at seven, and left after Grade 6, working to help keep the family. He lived in and around Hobart for most of his life, working initially full-time for the Hydro, but was a waterside worker on the Hobart docks for most of his working life.
Syd married Mona Gillie on 25 August 1951, and they had two children, Glen (deceased) and Raeleen. His initial introduction to greyhounds was through a friend, Karlene Richards who raced the longtails. Like so many in our sport, his interest became an addiction, and Syd Gangell remained involved as a backyard owner, trainer and breeder for most of his life. Syd had reasonable success, especially in the 1960s. He raced the 17-time winner Lucky Rookie for most of his career and had an extra smart fawn bitch whelped in May 1966 called Fair Starlet. Upon retirement, Syd mated her with the imperious Benjamin John, which produced Terry Dickenson’s classy Chrysler Lad and Syd’s own handy chaser Raelene’s Pride.
Fair Starlet’s second litter was whelped in March 1972, to Tasmania’s star sire Black Tuesday, and here Syd Gangell struck the jackpot. It gave rise to Glamour Spot, an extra smart white and black dog raced by Syd’s great mate Bobby Bryant. But the two standouts were ones kept by the Gangells. A white and brindle bitch called Starlet Girl was probably the second-best dog Syd Gangell ever raced. She made top grade as both a sprinter and a stayer and was such a genuine chaser. Her sister was the champion red brindle bitch Mona’s Beauty.
Syd Gangell realized very early on that “Princess” as she was to be known, had exceptional talent. It prompted the astonishing move of starting her career in a heat of the Hobart Mini Maiden on 25 April 1973. Extraordinary indeed, because she was only 13 months old, too young to be allowedto compete by today’s regulations. Mona’s Beauty actually ran a most creditable 4th at that debut, and after further trial experience, she was produced again some 52 days later in a Juvenile at the T.C.A. Now 15 months old, she was heavily supported from 10/1 into 2/1. Exiting box 2, she led throughout to beat Tiberon by 3 lengths in a smart 30 seconds neat. What was an amazing love affair between dog and track, was launched that night.
Forty days later, Mona’s Beauty backed up in a Hobart Grade 4 (no Grade 5’s back then), and from the red box, she repeated the previous effort, leading throughout in the same 30 seconds. This time, she was a 6/4 on favourite. Syd Gangell then ventured to White City for a crack at the Mick Sturges Memorial. She ran 2nd to Reg Ivory’s “champion to be” Sally’s Jim in her Heat, then beat Tetten Hall in the Semi, before a creditable 3rd to Sally’s Jim in the Final. Back to Hobart for start 7, Mona’s Beauty, despite her youth and inexperience, fronted up in a 680-metre Juvenile. It mattered little as she destroyed the opposition by 5 lengths, at odds on, in a useful 41.4 seconds.
Syd Gangell was an optimistic fellow, but many doubted his judgement indeed, when 25 days later, and at only start 8, he took on all comers in a Heat of the prestigious Tasmanian Gold Cup. Despite all, she went to the boxes a 4/7 favourite and cruised home 11 lengths clear of Sharpaulon in a brilliant 29.6. Just 3 days later, she again started odds on to win her Semi-Final in another smart 29.8. On 3 November 1973, Mona’s Beauty fronted up in one of the greatest finals ever staged at the T.C.A. From box one, she led all the way to complete the “Cinderella story”, running 29.7 This 1973 Tasmanian Gold Cup victory saw her beat Hall of Famer Mountain Rock by ¾ length, with another 3/4 length to Leo Burnett’s 1973 Hobart Thousand champion Sue’s A Credit in third. After 10 starts Mona’s Beaty was now 6 from 6 at the T.C.A. and had the greyhound world in raptures.
On 17 November, “Princess” made it a perfect seven at Hobart in the State Heat of the N.S.W. St. Leger. She led initially before class chaser Jangalay ran past her mid-race. She fought back bravely to nail him in a photo finish, running 29.8. This gave her passage to the Semi-Finals of the N.S.W. Classic feature at Wentworth Park. Before her journey, she made it 8 from 8 at Hobart with a 6-length Grade 3 win over Brindle Remount.
Despite starting a 9/4 second favourite the N.S.W. St. Leger Semi proved too tough, and she wound up 5th to Pal’s Dream. In a backup “Wenty” run a week later, she struck trouble early and finished 8th.
Back to friendlier shores, but no less easy company, Syd set the “Southern Belle” (as christened in the media) for the 1974 Hobart Thousand. The great chasers came from near and far for the famous race, but expectations were still sky-high for Mona’s Beauty. On 19 January 1974, she started 2/1 and proved superior in her 2 ½ length Heat win over the highly versatile Cormiston Flash. However, she would need to considerably better her 30.0-second win to progress further. No problem. One week later, when every Semi Final looked like a Final, Mona’s Beauty sensationally posted her 10th win from 10 T.C.A. starts in her 2 ¼ length victory over Sudden Venture.
With comparisons between Mona’s Beauty and former dual Hobart Thousand winner Ophir Doll flying thick and fast, it’s little wonder a massive crowd fronted up for the crown jewel of Tasmanian greyhound racing, in the 1974 Hobart Thousand Final. The task was severe; she drew an unsuitable box six, whilst the gun Victorian and hot favourite, Jamin John came up with the inside alley. The dream almost came true. The favourite led immediately, and despite a most valiant attempt, Mona’s Beauty, despite taking good ground off him, just fell short by 1 ¼ length in running 2nd in a slick 29.5. David Crosswell’s foundation brood bitch Arkle’s Girl ran 3rd.
Eleven days on, Mona’s Beauty headed to White City for her Launceston Cup Heat of 1974. From box 5 she gave a dazzling display in leaving the smart Chrysler Lad 7 lengths behind. She repeated her excellent 30.4 seconds a week later in the Semi-Final, this time 1 length ahead of Red Rock Boy, and at threes on. Despite an awkward box 5 in the 1974 Launceston Cup Final, she started a 7/4 equal favourite with her Thousand nemeses Jamin John. Drawing on her typical courage after she was unable to lead, “Princess” wound up 4th behind Jamin John again, with brilliant sprinters Blue Stream and Dan Bowers filling 2nd and 3rd.
On 9 March 1974 Mona’s Beauty had her one and only start at Devonport in a Heat of the ’74 Devonport Cup. Though an odds-on favourite from box 4, the task was just beyond, and she was 3rd to local track star Combeen Man. One month later, it was back to White City, winning her Heat of the 1974 Easter Cup from Mr. Casino as a fours on favourite. A poor box 6 draw in that Final saw her end up 5th to the Launceston Track Record-holding superstar, The Big Black.
After a short sojourn, Syd Gangell and Mona’s Beauty ventured to N.S.W. for a few runs, where her best effort produced a Dapto victory. Returning to the Apple Isle, on 25 July 1974 she raced for the first time back at her beloved T.C.A. since the Hobart Thousand nearly six months prior. In a cracking renewal of the feature Miss Tasmania Stakes, Mona’s Beauty again asserted her superiority here. At odds on from the red box, she blitzed the classy Havadale by 7 lengths in a slick 29.70. Finally, she also had some retribution on Jamin John which ran 7th. After a distant 3rd to The Big Black at White City, she lined up for the National Sprint State Final at Hobart. From box two, it was yet another T.C.A. domination, this leaving the classy Latin Dancer 1 ½ lengths in arrears in 29.8.
Mona’s Beauty spent September 1974 in Melbourne without success. She was 5th at Sandown then 4th at Olympic Park, ahead of her two Semi-Finals of the National Sprint. At Sandown, she wound up 5th to Coolarmaroo, before her Semi 7th at Olympic Park behind the mighty Bristol Sue.
On 5 October 1974, she commenced a string of six successive victories which truly sealed her greatness. An Invitation win on that night, with the Mercury now calling her “the Southern Belle”, was her launching pad for a defence of her 1973 Gold Cup crown. Ten Gold Cup Semis were held on 26 October 1974, and Mona’s Beauty drew two in hers, with Devonport Cup winner Brendon James in the red. It made no difference, as she powered away from him, scoring by 3 lengths at twos on, in a slippery 29.6. In the 1974 Tasmanian Gold Final brimming with elite chasers, Mona’s Beauty was still sent out a 4/6 favourite, on a wet night and an unfavourable box six. But nobody told the champ! She winged the start and had the race in her keeping before the first turn. With a huge crowd roaring its approval, she had 3 lengths to spare from the mighty Lerobarian, and the high-class Dual Spring another 3 lengths third in 29.7. The great Arkaroola, Pupil’s Ticket and Fenton Gold were further astern.
When Mona’s Beauty won the Ruth Baker Memorial a week later, in 29.6, by 5 lengths, at fives on, and again from Brendan James, it made 16 wins and a Hobart Thousand 2nd in a row at the T.C.A, since her 13-month-old debut 4th there. Words fail!
Her last two wins were at White City. On 23 November 1974, she won her Heat of the Pacemaker Sprint, which was a re-run after the last race, due to a cat on the track the first time around. Even in the re-run, she posted the quickest time of the night. A week later, she overcame interference in a roughly run race, to mow down the mighty Sally’s Jim and win the 1974 Pacemaker Sprint Final.
Injury and sickness saw this freaky bitch race only five more times between 7 December 1974 and 22 August 1975. It included another Hobart Thousand attempt when a Semi Final 8th to Tuemino, and a fall behind Proper Banner in a Launceston Cup Heat.
Mona’s Beauty had litters to Half Your Luck, Silent Wonder and Mount Hall Flash upon retirement with only minimal success but remained the ‘Princess” of the Gangell household for her remaining days. She was a class act at White City, but she was truly a freak at the T.C.A., where only a Hobart Thousand 2nd prevented her from winning 17 in a row there. Many champions have won the Tasmanian Gold, but she is the only one to do it twice. Twice also, she represented her State and was lauded by the media and race night crowds like few before or after her. It’s little wonder she won the 1974 Tasmanian Greyhound of the Year. It’s little wonder also, that Syd Gangell’s “Southern Belle” now enters the Tasmanian Greyhound Hall of Fame.
BY Greg Fahey