ONE of the finest of English-bred greyhounds, Bah’s Choice was by Danieili’s son, Tokio, bred at the kennels of Mr E. Creek in Cambridgeshire and whelped in July 1944. His dam was Chittering Duchess and the litter included Chittering Choice, sire of the Waterloo Cup winner Peter’s Poet; and Chittering Wish, sire of the 1951 Cambridgeshire winner Dead on Dick. Tokio was nine when he sired Bah’s Choice, who was one of his last sons. The dog, who when adult weighed 76lbs, was originally purchased as a puppy by a West Indian restaurant and nightclub owner, Mr E.W. Bah. He was often seen in his off-duty hours when taking a break from entertaining his customers on his Steinway piano by exercising his choice of the litter along the streets of Soho, much to the amazement of those who passed by.
When the dog was old enough to begin trials, Mr Bah took him to Catford. After winning only one of his first ten races there he was sold and sent to Wembley.
There, in the capable hands of Bob Buris, there was to be a rapid transformation in the dog’s abilities. Entered for the Wood Lane Stakes at White City, he won his heat by two lengths in 29.47sec, his semi-final in 29.50sec, and the final, in which he defeated Another Farewell by a short head in 29.48sec. His track sense and consistent running soon made him a popular dog with the public and, wherever he raced, he drew the crowds. When, just two days after his White City win, he clocked 29.04sec to set a new 525yds world and track record at Wembley, he made the headlines in the sporting press.
In the race he defeated Magic Bohemian, then one of the best dogs in England by an impressive six lengths. When, just two days after his White City win, he clocked 29.04sec to set a new 525yds world and track record at Wembley, he made the headlines in the sporting press. In the race he defeated Magic Bohemian, then one of the best dogs in England by an impressive six lengths.
Then, on 6 June 1946, at White City in a Derby trial, he clocked a then astonishing 28.99sec to become the first dog in the world to break 29sec over the 525yds trip. In his first heat of the Derby he was beaten a short head by Shaggy Lass but won his second round heat by a neck from Shannon Shore.
He failed to get a place in the final, however, and in the Consolation final was beaten four lengths by Quare Times when that rival set a new world record of 28.82sec. He had previously beaten Bah’s Choice’s own trials record in his second round heat with a time of 28.95sec, to become the first dog ever to break 29sec in a race.
A week later, on 3 August, he won his heat for the Summer Cup at Wembley, by three and a half lengths from Shannon Shore. Behind were Quare Times, Magic Bohemian, Shaggy Lass and Negro’s Lad, each a champion in their own right, yet he won the final by three lengths from Parish Model in 29.60sec.
The race was something of a challenge match between Quare Times and Bah’s Choice, for the Derby winner was resting before tackling the All-England Cup at Brough Park and no other dogs racing in England could match these two for terrific pace.
Yet, once again, after he was away to a flying start, Quare Times moved outside at the first bend – he was going so fast that he probably could do nothing else – but this gave Bah’s Choice his opportunity and he always took it.
He moved inside in a flash, passed Magic Bohemian on the last bend and won by one and a half lengths to the prolonged cheers of a packed house.
The race had caused so much excitement that immediately the result was known Major Percy Brown, racing manager at White City, contacted the owners of the two greyhounds to arrange a return match between them at White City on August Bank Holiday Monday. Once again it created tremendous interest. It was also a challenge between two of the greatest trainers in the history of the sport, for Quare Times was handled in England by the ‘Wizard of Burhill’, the great Sidney Orton, while Bah’s Choice was trained by Bob Buris at Wembley.
It was also a contest between Wembley and Wimbledon, the two tracks who then had the top trainers and the best greyhounds (only Clapton could approach them in this respect). Greyhound lovers turned up from all parts of Britain. The two champions were announced with a fanfare of trumpets, like knights on a tilting green, but with only one other dog to do battle against, Quare Times, always first from the traps, made no mistakes and set a new world record for the 550yds course.
In the Invitation Stakes run at Coventry on 9 August, Bah’s Choice had his revenge. He beat Quare Times, this time by five lengths and, as usual, Quare Times was the odds-on favourite. Bah’s Choice set a new track record with a time of 29.45sec, the record having previously been held by Ballynennan Moon. Entered for the Birmingham Cup at Perry Barr in September, he broke a hock in his first round heat and was retired to stud.
In little more than six month’s racing after being moved to Wembley, he had established himself as one of the outstanding middle distance dogs in the history of the sport.
His career was an example to those who expect great things from a greyhound as soon as it can begin racing but who do not appreciate that some dogs take longer than others to develop their full potential.
One of Bah’s Choice’s finest sons and one of his first was Imperial Dancer, whelped in November 1947, who possessed the speed and stamina of his sire.
He was a brindle, weighing 73lbs when racing, and his dam was the great Castledown Lad bitch Imperial Girl, who won 23 races in the highest class.
As a puppy, Imperial Dancer reached the final of the 1949 Irish Cesar witch but was withdrawn owing to illness. The next year he won the event in the fastest time recorded, 34.25sec, and ran up for the Easter Cup. Also in 1950, he held the 525yds track record at both Harold’s Cross and Shelbourne Park, and at the latter became the first dog to hold both the 525yds and 550yds record together. The 550yds record had stood for more than ten years.