DREAM RUN: Greyhound couple's chance in a million
GREYHOUNDS: Waterview Heights training couple Shirley and Ken Staines are only one race away from making all of their dreams come true.
The couple, who have been in the industry for more than four decades, only retired to the Clarence Valley two-and-a-half years ago and keep a modest kennel with only four runners in work at a time.
It just so happens that one of those runners is speedster Raven Izmir, who earned her way into the semi-finals of the richest greyhound race in the world, the Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase.
The three-year-old bitch out of Montana Izmir, a champion racer in her own right, finished an impressive second to Queensland galloper Snug in the regional final at Lismore last Tuesday.
The placing grants her entry into one of eight semi-finals at Sydney's Wentworth Park next month, with the winner of each heading into the first ever $1 million final in racing history.
"It is scary when you say to yourself we are one win away from a $1million final,” Ken Staines said. "We have been around a long time, we have won feature races in town before but to win this would be amazing. Winning it will be like winning the lottery, but we are three-quarters there.”
For Staines, who is a fourth generation greyhound trainer, the rich series has reinvigorated his passion in the sport.
"We wouldn't do it if we didn't get a kick out of it, but you have to understand we have been there and done it all. But this race, it has really recharged the batteries for us,” he said.
It has also been a real lift for long-time father and son owners George and Gregg Mills.
"George is really unwell at the moment, but his son keeps saying every time he watches Raven run he perks back up,” Staines said. "They have owned dogs with us for around 40 years, so to win this for them would be special.”
But that might not be all for the training couple, with Raven Izmir's kennel mate Freddy's Back also aiming at the series, entered in the regional heats at Grafton Greyhound Racing Club on Monday.
The local club will run three stacked heats on Monday, with a regional final the next week.