In 2018 Greyhound Racing NSW introduced the Million Dollar Chase, the richest greyhound race event in the world, and one which culminates with a Grand Final at Sydney’s Wentworth Park in late October, the winner to collect a $1 million prize.
The Million Dollar Chase is more than just one race however, with the series weaving its way through Regional NSW, greyhounds are able to qualify for semi-finals which are run at Wentworth Park. From there eight greyhounds qualify for the Grand Final, where one becomes the sport’s latest millionaire.
The event also has a strong focus on the welfare side of the industry, with 100% of all entry fees donated to the GRNSW charity, Greyhounds as Pets, to help with re-homing of greyhounds after their racing careers.
The inaugural race was won by Mystic Riot, trained at Llandilo in Western Sydney by Jodie Lagogiane, whose husband Peter was her handler that night and produced emotional scenes as he danced up the home straight in jubilation.
A year later, and this time it was Western Sydney couple Frank and Tracey Hurst celebrating as their greyhound Good Odds Harada took out the world's richest race.
In 2020, Lagogiane proved that lightning can indeed strike twice. His dog Handsome Prince speared out from an unsuitable wide, box 7 draw - the same box Mystic Riot left from two years earlier - and once he found the fence it was game over, going on to win in 29.72s from the Daryl Thomas-trained Xerri, with West Australian Tommy Shelby in third place.
There would be no third lightning strike in 2022 with Lagogiane failing to have a finalist, but Frank Hurst had Good Odds Cash engaged chasing MDC number 2.
But the one they all had to catch was the brilliant She's A Pearl who had won 11 on end including the Golden Easter Egg, heading into the MDC final.
And for trainers Jodie and Andy Lord she made it the perfect dozen on grand final night, giving nothing else a chance in a dominant display, clocking 29.32s to win by 5 1/2 lengths from kennelmate Coast Model with Megastar winner Ritza Donna running on for third.
Just four months later and we were back at Wentworth Park racing for a $1 million prize.
In an event far more open than the May edition of the MDC, the field saw John and Minnie Finn have three finalists led by star sprinter Zipping Kyrgios, Peter Lagogiane chasing his third MDC with French Martini, and a sole interstate runner, the Victorian-trained McInerney.
And it was that visitor who would become the first non-NSW trained greyhound to win the world's richest race.
The 2023 decider was held in October and it was Queensland superstar Jay Is Jay who claimed a memorable win for the Zammit kennel.
After initially running fourth in the Grafton regional final of the series and missing out on direct qualification for the semi-finals, the Zammit's thought about pulling the plug on their tilt at the world's richest race series, before pushing on to the City Qualifiers.
Jay Is Jay quickly found form though, winning his way through in a time of 29.73, before returning a week later to blitz them in the semi-finals in 29.45. Once he drew Box 2 in the big one he was always going to be hard in the market, but after jumping slowly as the second favourite, he was last at the post first time around.
Some first corner interference allowed him to rail his way into the race, before he overpowered a brave Cumbria Kid and Victorian star Postman Pat to claim the sixth ever Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase.
Mick and Selena Zammit celebrate the 2023 MDC win
The 2022 September MDC placegetters (L-R) Zipping Kyrgios, McInerney and He's On Fire with connections
2022 September MDC champion McInerney with connections
2020 Million Dollar Chase Winner - Handsome Prince