After 63 races at 16 tracks around the New South Wales, we are now down to just eight contestants in the TAB Million Dollar Chase Grand Final, the world’s richest greyhound race.
This Friday night (October 16), in just a tick over 29 seconds, less time than it takes for the Lotto balls to drop, someone at Wentworth Park will become an instant millionaire.
Following last Friday night’s winners-only-entry TAB Million Dollar Chase semi-finals at Wentworth Park, we now have our eight grand finalists where the winner will be handed a cheque for $1 million.
“After a fantastic series zig zagging its way across the State, what a tremendous line-up we have been able to assemble for Friday’s Grand Final,” Greyhound Racing NSW Chief Executive Officer Tony Mestrov said.
“What I’m so delighted to again see this year, is a diverse cross-section of our industry being represented in the Grand Final, with young trainers, leading trainers, a South Australian, a Western Australian, some greyhounds with cult followings, and four male and four female trainers.
“This year we are extremely proud to have our showcase event telecast live on the Nine Network immediately following Friday’s NRL preliminary final between Melbourne and Canberra, and with the dogs in the Grand Final field, television viewers are guaranteed to see an incredible spectacle, where, in less than 30 seconds, someone becomes a millionaire.
“It’s been a very difficult year for everyone, but our participants have worked tirelessly under challenging conditions, to keep the industry safe, and enabled racing to continue, and that’s why it was a priority for us to stage the TAB Million Dollar Chase in 2020, and particularly maintain the prizemoney status.
“While understandably we haven’t seen the same patronage from interstate kennels this year, I don’t think there were any of our elite dogs who couldn’t compete, and importantly the NSW trainers have stepped up and supported the event.
“I wish all trainers, connections, and their greyhounds the very best of luck for Friday, when we won’t find out who wants to be a millionaire, we will in fact see who becomes a millionaire.”
There’s a story behind every runner in the Grand Final, the showpiece on a big night of racing this Friday.
There’s a West Australian greyhound with a cult following, named Tommy Shelby after the character from the hit television series Peaky Blinders, a pair of Victorians – Wallbanger and Waging War – now, due to COVID-19, residing and being trained in NSW, and a brilliant young dog called Xerri who has started just 13 times, but is poised to become just the sixth greyhound in Australian history to pass the $1 million prizemoney mark.
Then there is the youngster of the field, Flying Ricciardo, who is two months away from his second birthday, purchased for just $7,500 at the 2019 Gold Muzzle Auction by his female owner-trainer Kristy Sultana. Even the man he was named after, Australian Formula 1 ace Daniel Ricciardo has hopped on board, declaring: “I have got to get behind it. I will have to get on board the Ricciardo train.”
Two years ago Peter Lagogiane danced down the Wentworth Park straight after Mystic Riot, a greyhound trained by his wife Jodie, won the inaugural Million Dollar Chase. He has the chance to win it again this year with former Tasmanian dog Handsome Prince, who coincidentally will start from box 7, the same box Mystic Riot jumped from in the 2018 Grand Final.
It took three editions of the Million Dollar Chase, but South Australia finally have a finalist in the event in Shadow Mist, and one with a real chance of winning the major prize after drawing box one.
South Australian trainer Lauren Harris – one of four female trainers with a Grand Final runner – won through to the semi-finals with Shadow Mist after winning the SA Sprint Championship Final, but with her hometown Group 1 Adelaide Cup scheduled for the same night as the MDC semis, she was undecided whether to stay home for that race, or come to Sydney for the Chase semis.
Her good friend, NSW trainer Kayla-Jane Coleman eventually convinced Lauren to bypass the Adelaide Cup and head to Sydney for the TAB Million Dollar Chase, a decision which could prove a $1 million one.
There is more at stake for Lauren than $1 million on Friday too, after she revealed that she and her partner Ryan Tugwell have promised to get married after 10 years together if Shadow Mist wins the biggest race of their lives.
Another dog whose trainer also contemplated not taking his semi-final spot was the Jodie Lord-trained Awesome Catch. After being injured at his previous start and having taken time to heal, the trainer considered scratching him from Friday’s race, but chose to start Awesome Catch and he won through to greyhound racing’s biggest event.
The box draw for the TAB Million Dollar Chase run this Friday night at Wentworth Park is: 1 Shadow Mist 2 Xerri 3 Flying Ricciardo 4 Waging War 5 Wallbanger 6 Awesome Catch 7 Handsome Prince 8 Tommy Shelby. Reserves: 9 Faithy Bale 10 Shetland.