Million-dollar opportunity for Grafton greyhound
GREYHOUNDS: The Greyhound Racing NSW + Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase has unearthed a local champion in Grafton sprinter Bokarm Dean.
Trained by the experienced Manny Antonelli, Dean overcame a mid-race mix-up on the back corner before powering down the straight to finish second in the Grafton regional final on Monday night.
Bokarm Dean finished five lengths behind Queensland-trained Fabrique ($4.20), with both dogs now off to the Chase semi-finals at Wentworth Park on October 12.
Antonelli has been a proud participant in the greyhound industry for more than 70 years and lived at Wentworth Park for many of those years.
But he said he had never dreamt of a greyhound race worth $1 million, even if he was unsure of his chances in the big smoke.
"I like running a good race (at Grafton) and beating other dogs, but going to Wentworth Park is nothing to me,” Antonelli said.
"I lived there and raced there, I have had more than 100 runs at Wentworth Park. Sure, they weren't as big as this though.
"At the end of the day Victoria has the best dogs in the country, they are likely to come up to the finals to take it out. It's going to be tough.”
It was no mean feat to finish second for Dean after a turbulent start to the race almost had the greyhound ruled out of the finish.
Race favourite Steve Scott's Mottza missed the kick and then was checked in running down the back straight, ruling him out of the race, while his young livewire Coopes started strong before hitting trouble at the turn.
The seven-race veteran ran off the tight corner out the back, taking Bokarm Dean off the track in the process, allowing Fabrique a clean run along the rail.
While the Chris Riordan-trained runner sprinted away for the flag, Bokarm Dean refused to be denied, fighting back for a gallant second place.
But Antonelli said there were always ways to improve.
"I am disappointed for running second,” he said with a wry grin. "I thought he could have won it at the last corner if he would have had any luck.”
But in truth he was just proud for part-owner and long-time friend Maxine Gleeson, who enjoyed the thrill of her career as a greyhound owner.
"I really love this for Maxine. She loves the greyhounds even more than I do, and for her this is something special,” he said.
Greyhound Racing NSW chief executive Tony Mestrov was on hand for the post-race presentations and said he was excited to see another regional champion unearthed.
"That is what this whole series is about,” Mestrov said.
"In the greyhound industry we need more champions. Whether that is a great greyhound like Fabrique or an industry veteran like (Antonelli), I am hoping we can keep finding them.”
Mestrov also praised the NSW Government and betting agency Ladbrokes for putting their support behind the Million Dollar Chase initiative.
Ladbrokes chief operating officer and former Grafton local Brad Smyth spoke on behalf of the betting agency after the completion of the final.
"It is great to see an event showcasing good regional dogs,” Smyth said. "This is about giving back to the participants of the industry.”
Bokarm Dean will join fellow locally trained runner Raven Izmir, out of the Ken and Shirley Staines kennel at Waterview Heights, in the Chase semi-finals next month.
The winners of the eight semi-finals will then return to Wentworth Park on October 20 to challenge for $1 million in prizemoney.