LAURIE’S PANTHER, in his short and meteoric career was owned by Mr Laurie James and trained at Romford by Terry Duggan. A black and white dog, whelped in April, 1980 by Shamrock Sailor out of Lady Lucy, his first important race was the Bobby Jack Puppy Cup run at Wimbledon in November 1981. He reached the final but was well beaten into fifth by the Killacca.

His next race was the Christmas Puppy Cup at Romford when, from trap three, he finished third, five lengths behind Seaway Lad. In March he was eliminated from the Pall Mall in the first round and gave no inkling at that time of the brilliance that was to make him a champion in the weeks ahead.

Entered for the Laurels in May, he won his opening heat by three lengths from Moon Prince and his second round qualifier from Night Miller and Yankee Express in 27.89sec, with the favourite, Duke of Hazard, who in round 1 had set a new track record on sand, fourth.

Despite a setback in his semi-final when he was badly hampered early in the race and beaten into second by Real Good, he really flew in the big decider. Away like a shot, he made all the running to win by a little under a length from Decoy Ranch in 27.79sec, just one hundredth of a second outside the then track record.

In a qualifying heat at Wimbledon for the 1982 Derby, he again defeated Night Miller and, this time, set a new track record with 27.72sec. In the first round at White City, he won by half a length from Pineapple Barrow in 29.48sec and was to go through the event undefeated. That was no mean feat considering 210 of the best greyhounds in England and Ireland took part and that he had to race six times to win the event.

It is always the hallmark of a high class trainer to keep a greyhound in top form throughout the English Derby which, from the qualifying rounds, lasted for a month before the final and this is what Terry Duggan did with Laurie’s Panther being his first Derby finalist.

Perfectly drawn in trap one, the dog was quickly away behind Supreme Tiger and clung to the rails throughout, winning by a little less than a length from Special Account, another fine dog, with Duke of Hazard another head away in third.

It was one of the finest of all Derby finals but was won by a worthy champion who was then retired to stud.

Sadly, Laurie’s Panther died after a sudden illness in 1986, the year that one of his sons, Mollifriend Lucky, landed a classic double in the Scurry Gold Cup and the Laurels.