AFTER successfully hosting a regional series of the inaugural the Million Dollar Chase, Nowra has again been chosen as a host of the greyhound racing series which will culminate in the world's richest race at Wentworth Park on Friday, October 18.
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson, jointly announced on Monday with Greyhound Racing NSW chief executive officer Tony Mestrov details of the 2019 edition of the event, which will see the grand final winner walk away with a $1 million prize.
Shoalhaven Greyhound Racing Club will host qualifying heats on September 16, with their final scheduled for September 22.
Nowra will be one of 14 regional centres hosting heats and finals, and this year those events will supply 56 of the 64 semi-finalists.
The other eight semi-final places will be decided from eight 'last chance' city qualifiers at Wentworth Park on October 5.
Unlike 2018 where only the winner and runner-up advanced to the semi-finals, this year the first four in each regional final will qualify for the October 11 semi-finals.
The event has a new sponsor in 2019, with Tabcorp partnering with GRNSW.
The grand final of the TAB Million Dollar Chase will be held at Wentworth Park on Friday, October 18, and will kick-off a major weekend of racing in Sydney, with the world richest turf event the TAB Everest to be run at Randwick the following day.
The NSW Minister responsible for racing, Kevin Anderson, said this is the direction of the new look greyhound racing industry which is earning public confidence.
"This is what the reforms were all about, improving the transparency and accountability of the greyhound industry in NSW so that it not only leads the nation, but sets a benchmark for the world," Anderson said.
"With the changes and additions which GRNSW have put in place for the series in 2019, the benefits to regional NSW - and particularly to the industry in those centres - will be even more significant."
Mestrov said one the learnings from the inaugural series was the greater focus on the grass roots of the sport, throughout regional NSW.
"The increased focus on regional centres in 2019, and less city qualifiers, will see those regions attract interstate owners and trainers, and intrastate visitors, across all parts of NSW with the goal to generate economic benefit to many regions of NSW," Mestrov said
"Due to the uniqueness and magnitude of the event, significant Australian and worldwide interest was created last year and GRNSW aims to build on that momentum in 2019."
Once again, as the case was in its maiden year, there will be a key focus on welfare, with the event to promote GRNSW's commitment to animal welfare and its re-homing initiatives.
"We want to again use the interest in the Million Dollar Chase to help support and raise funds for the Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) program which ensures dogs are well-looked after when they finish their racing careers," Mr Mestrov said.
"This is a key to our future.
"In 2018/2019, GAP NSW had helped re-home more than 700 greyhounds, which was a significant increase on the previous year, and a figure we plan to improve on in 2019-20.
"Again in 2019, 100 per cent of all entry fees paid by owners and trainers into the Million Dollar Chase will go directly into the GAP NSW program.
"This event is an opportunity for us as an industry to deliver important messaging to participants and the public about the new culture of greyhound racing in NSW, one that encourages racing, while also embedding world-leading greyhound welfare initiatives as standard."
The TAB Million Dollar Chase will begin on August 31 at Gunnedah, one of five new regional venues to join the event in 2019.
The Dapto, Goulburn, Gosford and Casino clubs will also host regional heats and finals this year, while Bathurst, Dubbo, Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Maitland, The Gardens, Richmond, and Bulli - along with Nowra - return after hosting successful events in 2018.
In addition to the racing action, at five regional events - Gunnedah August 31, Bathurst September 7, Bulli September 14, Dubbo September 21, and Wagga September 28 - GRNSW will invest in additional promotion with festival-style entertainment, featuring the likes of entertainers such as Travis Collins and five-time ARIA Nominee Adam Harvey, who has sold over 500,000 records and won eight golden guitars at the Country Music Awards of Australia.
As was announced recently, TAB's newly introduced form of betting odds and evens, will in part fund the series.
While the regions are a strong focus, the city won't miss out, with three consecutive nights of exciting, 'no second chance' racing at Wentworth Park in October.
Eight city qualifiers with the winners only advancing, will be held on October 5, followed by eight semi-finals on October 11, with again winners only progressing, and then the venue will host the biggest night of greyhound racing in the world, with the TAB Million Dollar Chase grand final, the time-honoured Group One Sydney Cup final, the Masters Meteor, the Young Star, the Regional Reward and the MDC Consolation.