THE 1979 Derby win by Sarah’s Bunny was one of the very rare occasions when the winner’s sire had also won the sport’s premier event. The Midlands-based trainer, Geoff Demulder, had also guided her sire, Jimsun, to a Derby win (in 1974) and Sarah’s Bunny started at 3-1 compared with Demulder’s other 1979 finalist, Desert Pilot, who started at 9-4 second favourite.
Purchased by Roy Hadley for £1,000, Sarah’s Bunny did not bring a string of open race wins with her when she lined up for the preliminary rounds of the Derby. She had, however, broken Coventry’s 460m track record (28.32sec) in an open race a few days after beating Full Again by a short head in a graded race at the same venue. (She was to return to Coventry after her Derby success to win the £1,000 Eclipse Stakes on 14 August.)
Although Desert Pilot had long been considered as the likely Derby winner, they had each beaten the other on the way to the final with Sarah’s Bunny beating her rival by a little under three lengths in the semi’s after a reversed result at the quarter final stage.
Desert Pilot’s consistency let him down on the big night (and neither of the De Mulder runners started favourite, with Tyrean in trap one being the market choice at 15-8) and he was involved with most of the other runners in bad crowding between the first and second bends. Sarah’s Bunny in the meantime had tracked round the trouble cleverly and set up a long lead with the 1978 Derby winner Lacca Champion missing the worst of the trouble and in determined pursuit.
The order was not to change and, at the line, Sarah’s Bunny had a length to spare over Lacca Champion with Desert Pilot less than a length behind in third. The time of 29.53sec was nearly three lengths slower than some of the times recorded in earlier heats (and Young Toby won the Derby Consolation Stakes in 29.16sec) but that was hardly surprising as none of the finalists totally missed the trouble, Sarah’s Bunny included.
She again met up with Desert Pilot in the Select Stakes at Wembley and finished third to her kennel companion who started 4-6 favourite. At the end of the year she ran unplaced in the £700 Bloom Stakes at Shelbourne Park and ended 1979 with a record of ten wins and over £23,000 in prize money in NGRC open races.
In December 1980 she had a litter to the American-bred sire Sandman and one of that litter, Disco Style, was elected Best Brood Bitch at the 1987 Greyhound Breeders Festival at Picketts Lock in Edmonton, London. In September 1981, she whelped a litter of five dogs and six bitches to Desert Pilot, so often her great adversary on the track.
However, it was in the coursing fields that one member of this litter became best known and Desert General was one of the best coursing dogs seen in England during the early part of the 1980s. Another member, Golden Sand, did very well on the track, winning over 20 open races and £4,500.
When mated to Special Account in 1983, Sarah’s Bunny produced one of the fastest dogs of the decade, Fearless Champ, while her February 1984 litter to Ron Hardy included Master Hardy and Fearless Action who finished second and fourth, respectively, in the final of the 1986 Derby.
Sarah’s Bunny was a fine Derby winner but her subsequent record as a dam would seem at least to equal that feat.