Neil Staines didn’t win a race in the inaugural Million Dollar Chase last year, but his experience in the event lit a fire and one that burns again this year.
In 2018 Staines had Bogan Doonie in the heats at Nowra, heats she will contest again this year, next Monday.
She charged home to finish second to Sweet Nangar, and book a berth in the regional final. A week later she again rattled home, again finishing second, this time to Zippy Ethics, and with that performance earned a place in the Chase semi-finals at Wentworth Park.
“That night, that was the first time she really jumped and led in a race,” Staines reminisced on Thursday about those semi-finals at Wentworth Park, where only the winners advanced for a shot at the $1 million to the winner prize. “She did everything but win that night.
“I remember looking back in the field and he was just coming out of the pack … Azkaban, Jason Thompson’s dog. It had form over 600m and was a strong dog and you didn’t want it chasing you and we just got run down.”
Having missed a place in the final by a length, Bogan Doonie and Neil Staines were back on Grand Final night to contest the Consolation of the Million Dollar Chase. This time she was last to jump, but stormed home to finish second to True Talent.
Her Million Dollar Chase performances read: Four starts … four second placings.
“It did light a bit of fire in me,” Staines said. “Being a part of the series last year just showed that you had to be involved. You’ve got to be part of it.
“You can’t sit at home and say we’re not good enough for this, or were not good enough for that, you’ve got to be part of it and when you get as close as we did to it, it was amazing.
“You just can’t wait for the next year, and I’m really looking forward to it now.
“It’s something out there for all greyhound people. It shows that the best dogs don’t always win, and you’ve just got to get out there and give yourself a chance.”
Bogan Doonie and Staines will be back where last year began on Monday in one of the two heats at Nowra.
Victorian Zipping Norton, one of the favourites in the Nowra Puppy Classic back in May has drawn the one, and the speedy Bit Flash, a winner of 13 of his 23 starts, has the two.
“There’s a couple of good heats,” Staines said. “She’s going as good as ever, and she’s got to have a crack at it. It doesn’t matter where she races, she just needs to turn up on the night with box manners and she’ll be very competitive.
“And if she doesn’t make it through, we can go into the other race too.“
The other race Staines speaks of is the Masters Meteor, run on Million Dollar Chase Grand Final night and worth $100,000 to the winner. Bogan Doonie turned four in July and as such is now eligible for that event.
“We’ll give the Million Dollar Chase a shot first and if we don’t get through, then we’ll target the other one.”