Million Dollar Chase? The Knowledge Ep2 - Adrian Molloy of GRNSW
Australia’s Melbourne Cup is their Grand National, their FA Cup Final, and every other sport wishes they had an event just like it. The latest to have a go is greyhound racing.
This month Wentworth Park in Sydney will stage the second running of the TAB Million Dollar Chase final. With a first prize of $1million, it is the world’s richest greyhound race, and this year it has hit the jackpot by attracting cult hero Feral Franky.
Known to fans as simply The Feral, the Raymond Smith-trained star broke the Gunnedah track record when winning his regional final, to book a berth in the Million Dollar Chase semi-finals. It was his 18th win and sent him to the top of the MDC 2019 betting.
No greyhound in Australia is more popular than The Feral. His support is akin to that of mighty thoroughbreds like Frankel and Winx, and we all know what they did for horse racing.
The Winx After-Glow
“What Winx did was certainly put racing on the front pages,” said Adrian Molloy, wagering manager at Greyhound Racing New South Wales. “Whilst racing is always there - it’s almost 24/7 these days - I think Winx permeated just the general population and she had that added benefit that she was a mare. Everyone loves a good mare, and especially one as good as Winx.
“We’ll certainly never see a horse as good as her. Not in Australia in our lifetime. I saw her run a few times, and I dunno, she just toyed with seriously good horses, constantly. Obviously now people have a lot more focus on racing and a lot more interest in it purely because of Winx. I think there’s a very beautiful after-glow and a real nice halo effect from Winx on racing, and I think racing will stay certainly in people’s psyche a lot longer because of it.”
Winx won a record 33 consecutive races, including 25 Group 1s and a record four, successive Cox Plates. She became a household name, with her own fan club and merchandise and for Australian’s she is now immortal.
Winx’s fame is right up there, on par with Australian horse racing, and maybe Australian sport’s, greatest asset; the Melbourne Cup.
“I think certainly up until the Millennial generation it was almost institutionalised,” Molloy said. “When you grew up, you grew up with this massive aura around the Melbourne Cup and I can remember I did my first sweep at primary school when I was nine.
He added: “It literally captured the nation. I think they use the phrase, the race that stops the nation, and it did.”
Everyone Has A Melbourne Cup Bet
It attracts racegoers and competitors from all over the world, and is one of the most intriguing world betting markets of the year.
Like the Grand National in Britain, everyone has a bet on the Melbourne Cup in Australia. The once-a-year-punters are out in force, but so are the heavy-hitters, who get together the day before to battle it out with the on-course bookmakers in an age-old tradition.
“It’s called Call Of The Card,” revealed Molloy. “It’s a lunch, generally on the Monday before the Melbourne Cup, and the bookmakers will take on the punters and the crowd, and usually you’ll get a whole cohort of professional punters, certainly guys with an awful lot of money, who like to back their horses to win a small fortune.
“It’s a real battle on the day. Some people could interpret it as where the smart money is going.”
Frederick Standish and his Victorian Turf Club could hardly have imagined the little Melbourne Cup they created in 1861 would grow into the behemoth it is today, but that it is, and it’s foundations are hard to shake.
Building on Australia’s appetite for unique, international horse races, in recent years other states have moved to try to create their own ‘Melbourne Cup’ - their own race that stops a state. New South Wales has The Everest, the world’s richest horse race on turf.
“I think the people that came up with the concept would like to think it’s going to be as big as the Melbourne Cup, but quite simply, it’s just not going to happen,” said Molloy. “Certainly from a wagering perspective, you are never, ever going to have a race in Australia that’s going to surpass the MC for turnover, but some of these concepts are actually quite clever.
“I think it’s innovation. I don’t see them ever threatening the Melbourne Cup, but they can certainly compliment it, and especially if they are focussed on shorter distances.”
How Far Can Million Dollar Chase Go?
When greyhound racing was rising from the ashes of the Four Corners documentary, it too decided it needed an Everest, a Melbourne Cup.
Enter the TAB Million Dollar Chase, which Molloy hopes will finally internationalise greyhound racing, and put it on par with horse racing. His dream would be to have either the Irish or English Derby winners travel.
There are logistical issues to overcome for dogs, that don’t affect horses, but he believes Australia ‘could get there’. He also wants to take greyhounds outside the racetrack.
“One thing that we’re potentially looking at is where can you take racing?” He said. “Can you take greyhound racing away from the track, and can you do it somewhere else?
“There are lots of beautiful beaches. Is there potential there? Most of the tracks in Australia are already sand-based. We’re thinking outside the square and I know that there are people thinking of racing thoroughbreds through cities.
“Again, welfare is to the forefront, you’ve got to get it right, but we’ve actually been investigating along these lines. It can definitely be done. We’ve obviously got the Sydney Harbour Bridge right here in Sydney, that very iconic the big coat hanger - I’d love nothing more than to see greyhounds flying across that. Watch this space.”
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Did you miss Ep1 Should You Pay For Tips? Featuring Pete Ling from the Smart Betting Club? Listen here, and look out for Ep3 as we find out how the Melbourne Cup 'stops a nation' with legendary commentator Matt Hill!
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