THE Shoalhaven Greyhound Racing Club is one of 11 regional centres that will host heats for the new $1 million race created by Greyhound Racing NSW.
The NSW Government, together with Greyhound Racing NSW, announced the creation of the world’s richest greyhound race on Tuesday – the Million Dollar Chase.
The final will be held at Wentworth Park on October 20, with $1 million going to the winner.
Heats of the race will be held across 11 regional venues – Bathurst, Bulli, Dubbo, Grafton, Newcastle, Lismore, Maitland, Nowra, Richmond, Temora and Wagga Wagga.
The heats will be held from September 3 with the series to carry total prize money of $1.7 million.
The heats will kick-off in Nowra on Monday, September 17, before the final takes place a week later – with the top two finishers qualifying for the semi-finals at Wentworth Park in October.
Sixty-four greyhounds will then battle it out in out semi-finals for a spot in the ‘big dance’.
“We will be the first to say we were surprised by the prize money of offer,” Shoalhaven Greyhound Racing Club secretary manager Glenn Midson said.
“In saying that, to have the ability to send to representatives from Nowra is great and we hope someone from our heats can go all the way and win the big one.
“Overall, it’s a real boost for all regional areas in NSW and I’m really pleased to be involved in an event that gives everyone a chance to participate in city racing.
”After a number of years of adverse publicity, both warranted and unwarranted, this announcement is a real boost for all forms of racing and should see an increase in participation numbers across regional NSW – it’s a good sign for the future of the sport.”
Greyhound Racing NSW chief executive Tony Mestrov said it was an exciting initiative for the entire industry.
“It is an exciting announcement and highlights our commitment to improve animal welfare at the same time as improving the greyhound industry, which is key to our future,” Mestrov said.
NSW Minister for Racing Paul Toole is confident the new race will be a winner.
“The Million Dollar Chase will generate new interest in the sport across NSW and will provide a welcome boost to the economy in regional centres,” Toole said.
“The Million Dollar Chase will demonstrate the importance of greyhound racing to regional NSW through its series of high-quality events for the whole community.”
As well as 11 regional heats, there will be 14 city qualifying finals at Wentworth Park from September 22 to October 6, before the semi-finals (October 12) and grand final (October 20).
The first two place-getters in the regional qualifying finals and the first three place-getters in the city qualifying finals will qualify for the semi-finals of the Million Dollar Chase.
As a condition of entry, participants must agree to re-home their dog into the Greyhounds as Pets program (GAP) or and equivalent program after its racing career.
Mestrov said entry fees from every race in the event will include a donation to the GAP NSW program.
“We have set an ambitious target to raise $1 million in donations to the GAP NSW program,” he said.
“We want to use the interest in the GRNSW Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase to help support the GAP program which is ensuring dogs are well-looked after when they finish their career.”
The race is open to all greyhounds in Australia but all must be re-homed at the end of their racing career.