Greyhound racing is mourning the passing of Paul Wheeler, not only Australia's but unquestionably the world's most successful owner and breeder, who died suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, aged 66.
When Paul Wheeler was inducted into the Australian Greyhound Racing Association's Hall Of Fame in 2016, he followed his late father Allen Wheeler, a previous inductee, to become the first and still only father and son to be awarded the honour.
Allen Wheeler established a successful breeding line in the 1970s and 80s but son Paul, through ingenious mating of suitable bitches with the correctly matched stud dogs, enhanced the family's greyhound dynasty.
Allen Wheeler's Steelflex remains the only greyhound to win the National Derby twice, in 1974 and 1975, while he bred and raced Winifred Bale, named NSW Greyhound of the Year in 1982 and 1983.
After his father's death Paul Wheeler established a state of the art breeding and rearing establishment on 1200ha at Murringo, near Young, where he bred and raised up to 550 greyhounds at a time.
The list of achievements of Paul Wheeler's greyhounds is endless, but his crowning glory was breeding and owning four Melbourne Cup winners, Kantarn Bale (1999), Dyna Tron (2011), Dyna Villa (2014) and Dyna Double One (2015).
His domination of big races was such that when Dyna Tron won the 2011 Cup at Sandown, he was one of seven of eight finalists owned and bred by Paul Wheeler.
Wheeler's influence on the sport can be gauged by the list of Australia's highest prizemoney earners, with three of his stock topping $1 million in stakes.
Fanta Bale earned $1,366,175 while Fernando Bale, arguably the greatest sprinter of all time, retired after winning $1.3m with Dyna Double One amassing $1.16m.
Wheeler's Xylia Allen, with $744,000 and Dyna Villa at $723,000 are also in Australia's top dozen earners on the the track.
Fernando Bale, who won 35 of 44 starts, won 11 group finals, eight of them group ones, and is now Australia's leading sire, closely followed by Barcia Bale, another to emerge from the Wheeler breeding nursery.
Temora-based Margaret Bannerman, who raced dogs with Paul Wheeler, said: "I have been a close friend of Paul and his wife Jan for 44 years and am simply devastated.''
Group one winning owner Chris Nutt, who operates a Sydney greyhound educational facility with Shaun Evans, said: "If it wasn't for Paul Wheeler I wouldn't be involved with greyhounds.
"He had time for everyone, battlers included.
"As a teenager I was a forklift driver and worked near The Oaks, where Paul Wheeler had his original training and breeding establishment.
"I could turn right off the main road to go to work or left to head to Paul Wheeler's and there were plenty of times I called in sick and went instead to help Paul with his dogs and learn about greyhounds.''
GRNSW wishes to join with the entire Australian greyhound racing industry in expressing its most sincere and heartfelt condolences to Paul Wheeler's wife Jan, daughters Alison and Belinda and sons Brendan and Scott, on their terrible loss.