Retired superstar greyhound Miagi capped off a tumultuous career when he took out the 2008 NSW Greyhound of the Year award at a glittering function at the Sydney Hilton on Friday night.
After suffering injuries at the hands of a feral dog near a veterinary clinic back in 2007, Miagi went on to claim two group titles in 2008 and become one of the most popular stayers in the history of the sport.
Clearly emotional after taking out the 2008 Stayer of the Year title, Miagi’s trainers Jill and Warren Harper were ecstatic as they accepted the Greyhound of the Year award. The 250 strong crowd were engrossed by their acceptance speech and joy at taking out NSW greyhound racing’s top honour.
Event favourite and current darling of the sport Miss Elly Mint missed out on the top award but trainer Robert Smith was on hand to accept the 2008 NSW Sprinter of the Year award and Miss Elly Mint already looks certain to be in the running for next years major award.
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) Chairman Professor Percy Allan AM said the awards were an important part of the fabric of greyhound racing in the state and that it was time the industry took control of the night rather than the burden of funding being covered by the NSW National Coursing Association (NCA) who have conducted the awards since 1965.
“I want to thank the NCA for making the Greyhound of the Year the pivotal celebration of industry achievement that it’s become in the greyhound racing calendar,” Professor Allan said.
“Tonight we see a new era where we come together to recognize not only the best greyhounds, but also outstanding Trainers, Owners, Breeders, The Youth, Our wonderful Volunteers and the administrators of our clubs that help our sport thrive.”
Majella Ferguson received the inaugural NSW Trainer of the Year award while NSW Club of the Year for 2008 went to the Grafton Greyhound Racing Club.
Professor Allan also used the occasion to announce a new industry excellence award.
“The Board of GRNSW has decided to introduce the Allen Wheeler Medal to recognise an individual who has performed with absolute distinction within the NSW greyhound industry.
“Allen Wheeler is universally recognized as a doyen of our industry and the naming of the award in his honour sets a benchmark for the medal itself as he epitomized the qualities by which the award will be judged, namely skill, integrity, leadership and empathy for others.”
Son of NSW greyhound matriarch Allen Wheeler and highly successful breeder and trainer in his own right, Paul Wheeler, was on hand to accept the accolade on his late father's behalf and then present the first Allen Wheeler Medal to NCA Grand Patron Jack Bell. Jack who is 94 years of age, had the crowd at the Hilton Ballroom captivated as he reminisced about his years involved in greyhound racing.
The full list of awards announced on the night are below :
- Greyhound of the Year - Miagi
- Allan Wheeler Medal - Jack Bell
- Trainer of the Year - Majella Ferguson
- Club of the Year – Grafton
- Volunteer of the Year - William Schwenke
- Young Person of the Year - Kayla Coleman
- Sprinter of the Year - Miss Elly Mint
- Stayer of the Year – Miagi
- Run of the Year - Queen Lauryn (Ladies Bracelet Final)
- Sire of the Year – Hallucinate
- Brood Bitch of the Year - Thai Again