LEAH Watt, who passed away last week, was co-breeder, owner and trainer, with her late husband Hec, of Zoom Top, widely regarded as the best greyhound Australia has seen.

 

Zoom Top, or Sweetie as she was known to the Watt family, was the first greyhound to twice earn the NSW Greyhound of the Year award, taking the honour in 1968 and 1969.

 

Zoom Top won 11 of 17 group race finals she contested, set an Australian record of 68 wins with an average winning margin of nearly six lengths, and broke or equalled 15 track records.

 

While there have been faster sprinters and stronger stayers, Zoom Top's remarkable versatility set her apart from the sport's other champions.

 

She won over 23 different distances, ranging from 292m to 466m and 640m up to a gruelling 795m.

 

Leah and Hec Watt often raced her successfully against the best long-distance performers over 732m at Harold Park on a Saturday night before backing her up over 520m at Wentworth Park 48 hours later.

 

During one period in 1969 Zoom Top had 10 starts on seven different tracks over six separate distances for eight wins, among them a pair of group races.

 

Leah and Hec Watt bred Zoom Top in August, 1966, when their smart race bitch Busy Beaver whelped her first litter of puppies to Black Top, who had won 17 of only 20 starts.

 

Zoom Top dominated greyhound racing to such an extent one scribe described her as "a freak'' but Leah Watt did not like that tag.

 

"She is just a very intelligent greyhound with a heart like an ox,'' Leah Watt told the journalist.

 

Leah and Hec Watt's association with greyhound racing began at Lismore in the early 1950s where Hec was a builder and the couple operated a small farm.

 

A year after re-locating to Rossmore, in Sydney, in 1963, their fortunes changed forever when they bought from Hec's cousin a half-share in a bitch called Busy Beaver, who produced Zoom Top.

 

Busy Beaver's first litter to Black Top also produced Busy's Charm, who won 52 races for Leah and Hec Watt but who was destined to always race "in the shadow'' of her famous litter sister.

 

At just 14 months of age, Zoom Top's career began modestly when she earned just $10 prizemoney winning first-up over 457m at Goulburn on October 21, 1967.

 

She retired after winning five of 13 races in 1970 with her career total being 68 wins and 39 placings from 136 starts.