Just two years ago the greyhound racing industry in NSW was on its knees and grinding to a halt.
The state government’s ban on racing caused much “pain and suffering” so it’s hard to believe this week the industry has been on the highest of highs.
If the overturn of the ban put a spark back in the greyhound community, the announcement of the Million Dollar Chase had caused a blaze of excitement.
The formation of the richest greyhound race in the world was announced earlier this week, with dogs from all over the country able to compete in heats in NSW and earn passage through to the $1 million final at Wentworth Park on October 20.
Eleven regional tracks, including Dubbo, will host heats.
“It’s just a huge boost and the shot in the arm the industry was looking for after a couple of turbulent years,” Dubbo Greyhound Club president Shayne Stiff said.
“There’s 11 regional heats and Dubbo is one of them. That’s absolutely sensational and gives people in Dubbo the chance to see some of the best dogs in Australia race.”
The race was announced by NSW Minister for Racing Paul Toole on Tuesday, and Stiff said he has fielded a number of calls since then.
Some of those have been from “the best trainers in the country” who have been keen to take part, potentially in the heats at Dubbo, while there has also been many calls from people wanting to get involved in owning a dog which could take part.
“It’s easy to buy a ticket for next year. You just need to get a pup and the fairy-tale could come true,” Stiff said.
Another major part of the series plays into Greyhound Racing NSW’s (GRNSW) ongoing commitment of looking after dogs and caring for them once the racing days are over.
All greyhounds in Australia are eligible to be nominated for the race, but a condition of entry is that all must be re-homed at the end of their racing career.
It highlight’s GRNSW’s target to raise $1million in donations for the Greyhounds as Pets (GAP) program.
It's ... the shot in the arm the industry was looking for after a couple of turbulent years.Shayne Stiff
Dubbo and the other 10 regional tracks, including Bathurst, will host two heats of the series with the first two finishers in each earning passage to Wentworth Park, along with the qualifiers from the city heats. There, eight races will be contested with the winner of each going through to the rich final.
“I haven’t seen Wentworth Park really, really packed in about 20 or 25 years when some great dogs were going around,” Stiff said.
“But I’m tipping on October 20 anyone in the state with a greyhound will want to be there for the first $1 million race at the track.”
In terms of this year’s Million Dollar Chase, Stiff said the September 19 heat at Dubbo might have come a little too soon for some.
However, he said the likes of Martin Hallinan at Orange and Cudal’s Dennis and Denise Barnes would be in the mix while Dubbo’s leading trainer Charmaine Roberts would also be putting her hand up for a shot.