Here is a story I wrote for the Greyhound Weekly in the 90’s.
TANGALOA SPRINTING SUPERSTAR
Over the last decade it has become common for our elite stars to win more than one major event. In the lead up to that becoming a common occurrence it was a feat performed by few and only the absolute superstars could pull it off. One of those was Victorian champion Tangaloa he won two group one events and ran second in another. Bred, reared and trained by one of the country’s finest trainers Joe Hili, in his short but brilliant career the black flying machine not only enjoyed outstanding success as a race dog, but also rewrote the record books at stud. Like top N.S.W. trainer Dennis Reid, Hili had raced pigeons prior to paying two pound for his first dog Swift Tango. She won first up at Warragul in 1956 and since then not many trainers have ranked in the same class as Hili. For more than 30 years he has put the polish on many champions the likes of Landena, High Intensity, Club Edition and Dallas Duo. The greyhound he rates as the best is Tangaloa. Here’s the fascinating story behind one of Victoria’s truly great champions Tangaloa.
THE BREEDING AND THE LITTER
Tangaloa was by immortal Victorian sire the great Temlee from Pengala. Hili had successful raced the beautifully bred Pengala (Plunder Road x Tacron), she had many wins for him and he decided to put her to his very well performed dog Fine Scott. For her first mating it produced nine pups all of which won races the best been Fine Arama. I asked Hili why he chose Temlee for Pengala second litter. “Simple really he was the best stud dog standing at the time Pengala first litter was so successful I though she was a moral to throw to a dog like Temlee as he had been a brilliant race dog and was proving the same at stud”. Hili assumption was to prove correct in a big way. The litter was whelped on May 14 1976 consisting of seven dogs and four bitches. Besides the mighty Tangaloa there were his well performed brothers Black Smoothie a Melbourne Cup finalist. Gannet, Chelone Prince, Lord Penley and Robert The First. The bitches raced as Lady Temala, Miss Bongo and Miss Pengala. The entire litter won races with some performing better than others. Hili sold all of the litter except Black Smoothie and Lady Temala. Tangaloa was bought by Victorian’s Frank Appleby a Kallista market gardener and his nephew Ray Read a Blackburn milkman. They paid $400 for the four months old pup. It was a first up partnership that was to realize unprecedented success.
Hili has reared greyhounds at his Homeleigh Road Keysborough Kennels for over 25 years. I inquired as to his methods and if there was anything noticeable about Tangaloa as he was growing up. ” We rear in long 100 metre runs I like long runs. At about four or five months old we teach them to gallop in a 400 metre long straight. We have never feed anything-special just plenty of good food. I remember one thing about Tangaloa he was the boss of the litter, I reckon the boss of the litter nearly always turns out the best. I can remember a number of top dogs we’ve reared that the boss has turned out the best. If you always select the fattest pup you won’t be far wrong.”
I asked Hili if Tangaloa showed anything special when he was broken in.” I usually start the young pups off in the bull ring and when they’re ready I send them off to be finished. Tangaloa went to Tooradin, I remember he came home running 24 dead, which at the time was very good for pups. The thing about Tangaloa was he would improve by a big margin, his second time on a track. I took him back to Tooradin after he came home and he run 22.80. He early trial form was very good and I knew he had some sort of future. He had tremendous natural ability a very hard chaser. I remember racing him early on at the old Richmond track, all the good judges told me he couldn’t win off his trial. I knew better and won some good money as he won easily and ran 31.65.”
Appleby and Read named the champ after a yacht named Tangaloa. He was affectionately known around Hili’s kennels as ” Tangles.”
Tangaloa was the subject of plenty of offers Hili explains ” We had a lot of early offers of 10,000 and 12,000 but the main offer came from United States for $80,000. It came from Robert Stack’s brother who raced dogs over there. It was always their call and luckily they didn’t sell, it was a lot of money in those days, it must have been tempting. He would have been some loss to the breeding industry no Tangain, Eaglehawk Star or Ginger and so on so they made the right choice as far as this country was concerned”.
Hili describes “Tangles” as an iron dog besides two major injuries he raced for the most part of his career injury free. The first major injury has quite a unique story behind it I asked Hili to explain. “It was early in his career I raced him in Sydney, he won five straight. To keep him fit I gave him a run up Paul Cauchi’s straight and he broke his hock. I brought him back to Melbourne and the vet I took him to told me to put him down, that he’d never race again. I was quite upset and told him there was no way I would put him down. I took him home and plastered the hock myself then put him in a run and he came back better than ever. The other injury he suffered was a broken tail during the Australian Cup series. He had eight inches taken off it, and he struggled through the semi. On final night the on course vet wanted to scratch him but sanity prevailed and the steward in charge over ruled the vet. Luckily for us he did, as he came and won the cup”.
THE BIGGEST THRILLS
It wasn’t difficult to ascertain the biggest thrills, Tangaloa’s owners and trainer Hili experienced with the champ. “Both cups were a tremendous thrill. I think the Australian Cup was great. He had run second the year before and had been at stud to come back from box four when no one gave him a chance was something I can tell you”. Hili said.
It was certainly a sound decision for the Australian breeding scene that Tangaloa was not sold to America. He served 725 bitches in a long reign as one of the country’s most influential sires. Tangaloa’s impact is still apparent today. In fact to quote Peter Rose’s book Winning Lines “Tangaloa is the most influential sire from the Temlee sire line.” Listed below is just some the champion performers sired by Tangaloa. Tangain, Eaglehawk Star, Pretty Short, Rustic Venture, Dark Pretender, Kid Campbell, La Paz, Kununnrra, Tangleshell, November Prince, Conquisitador and Peppaloa.
THE RACE CAREER
In a short but sweet race career, that spanned a long period in time Tangaloa raced 57 times for 19 wins and 28 placings. His stake earnings totalled $93,165 an Australasian record at the time. The champ had his first start on October 14 1977 in a qualifying at Sandown. He ran second to Pedro’s Girl in 31.50. It wasn’t long before his ability was quite evident. At his third start he broke the Traralgon track record recording 30.32. After many top wins in Victoria and Interstate he had his first major win in the 1978 Melbourne Cup. Starting from box one, he won by two lengths in 30.97. The field included Riviera Tiger, Rubin Caine, and his brother Black Smoothie. “Tangles” then was runner up to Boundless in the 1979 Australian Cup beaten one and half lengths in 30.51. It was another brilliant field including Darville’s Flyer, Dashing Disco and Harris Tweed. Tangaloa other unexpected major triumph was the 1980 Australian Cup at 33/1. He won from box four in 30.12. It was a star-studded line up. The field consisted of the mighty Tempix, Kalimna Boy, Monica’s Mist, Swanston Eddie, Acclaim Star, Vibrant King and the favourite White Panther. The champ had best winning times at Olympic Park of 30.05 and Sandown of 30.48. Tangaloa lived at Hili’s Keysborough property to the ripe old age of 13. The champ died on December 6,1989 and is buried at the Pets Memorial Gardens, Heany Park Road Rowville. A headstone explains his deeds with a bottom line that says it all ” A CHAMPION AT REST “
Jeff Collerson – Met Joe when he came to Harold Park with Bernie Strong another Melb trainer. One of their dogs was a good ‘un called Landena. Cant Can’t recall if Joe or Bernie trained her
Edwin Caruana– Joe trained her, she was a very good stayer, I was in Sydney on my honeymoon in March 1969, Golden Slipper day. Big day on the punt, Vain won at Rosehill off to Wentworth Park to watch Landena salute. Extended our honeymoon by a week.
Edwin Caruana– Neil Bernie Strong had Dog it’s name escapes me but every time it drew the red always saluted and always heavily backed.
Des Dooley– Eddie, could it be Makana
Edwin Caruana– Des I don’t think It was Mahana but similar.The dog in question won a lot of races at Sandown
Des Dooley– I have a recollection that Landena and Amerigo Lady raced in a small field in Sydney one night. Stewards asked a few questions. Sure Jeff Collerson would remember.
Neil Brown– Edwin Caruana I find that dogs name Ed Saturday afternoon my brother will remember. Bernie had plenty of good ones.
Howard Gray– Neil Brown I remember Bernie landing an Australia wide plunge at Angle Park with a little black staying bitch If I recall right it was called Mehrez? Did Bernie train a very good sprinter called Morjarro, name keeps cropping up in my head?
Neil Brown– Howard Gray sure did invitation class at both city tracks black dog never every got beat off the red.
Edwin Caruana– Jeff Collerson That’s the dog I was thinking about Morjarro.
Howard Gray– Neil Brown Good to know my mind’s still working even if everything else is getting a bit slooowww.