THIS great dog, whelped in March 1976, was to win the 1978 Derby at White City and could well have emulated Mick the Miller and Patricia’s Hope in winning two years in succession but for misfortune.

In the 1978 event, he was made 6-4 favourite after winning each heat and his semi-final, thus becoming only the third dog to do so in the history of the event. In the final he won from trap three by nearly two lengths from Backdeed Man in the fast time of 29.42sec to earn his owner, Mrs Peace, a cheque for £20,000.

He contested the 1979 Derby and, from more than 200 greyhounds originally entered, once again reached the final, in which he was the oldest contestant. Lack of concentration or just an off-night meant Lacca Champion was left many lengths behind in the traps and that would have been enough to stop any greyhound from even having a chance in the great race.

However, he produced an astonishing burst of early pace and, by the first bend, had caught his rivals, but there was no way through and he was badly impeded and forced to check his stride, again losing valuable ground. It was always going to be a struggle from thereon but he again rallied but it was all too late and he had to settle for second best behind Sarah’s Bunny, who had led from trap to line.

A dark brindle, almost black from a distance, and known as ‘Little Joe’ in his kennel, Lacca Champion was expertly handled throughout his career by the late Pat Mullins – husband of legendary Linda Mullins.

He was always a difficult dog to train, taking some time each season before coming to his best. Nor did he enjoy the best of luck when running.

His sire, Itsachampion, was by Monalee Champion out of the great twice Oaks winner Cranog Bet. Monalee Champion was by Crazy Parachute out of another great dam, Sheila at Last, while the great Pigalle Wonder was a grand sire on his dam’s side.

His grand dam, Survival, was sired by The Grand Fire. Litter sister to Martin’s Pigalle was More Wonder, grand dam of Kilmagoura Mist. Survival’s litter sister was Clomoney Grand. ltsachampion also sired the white and black dog Instant Gambler, winner of the Welsh Derby and the Wood Lane Stakes in 1978 when he defeated five great greyhounds, Linacre, El Cavalier, Balliniska Band, Alfa Boy and Paradise Spectre. He won twenty races in Britain in top class and ten in Ireland and, along with Lacca Champion, was the best greyhound of 1978.