STATE Of Origin hero James Maloney is the latest rugby league star to become a greyhound owner.
Maloney has shares in the Punters HQ Syndicate's Hear This and Come A Guster, who are being trained at Ashburton, in New Zealand's South Island, by Mal Grant.
Hear This has had seven starts for a win, three seconds and two thirds, while Come A Guster's record is an impressive eight wins, six seconds and two thirds from 23 appearances.
While Maloney these days with the Penrith Panthers, he first made his football name with the NRL's NZ-based Warriors so it's not surprising his dogs are racing in the Shaky Isles.
Maybe Maloney's interest in the sport stems from the fact he was born in Orange, traditionally a greyhound racing stronghold.
GREG Hore, former successful trainer, Bathurst greyhound club secretary and GRNSW stipendiary steward, was at Wentworth Park on Saturday night for the opening round of the Crocmedia National Sprint and Distance Championships.
"Hypo'' Hore, nicknamed as an "opposite'' take - as in hyper-active - on his laid-back, laconic manner and nature, is now a key figure in retired real estate tycoon Gary Harding's greyhound operations in New Zealand.
Harding, whose former Sydney dog Dusty Gambler has had nine wins and two seconds from a dozen starts in NZ and is now among their top stayers, owns the 300 acre Fayette Park at Tirau, two hours' drive south of Auckland.
"Fayette Park was formerly a thoroughbred property and it was there that the champion racehorse Grosvenor stood at stud,'' Hore said.
"There are always between 80 and 100 greyhounds on the property, and while Karen Walsh trains the race dogs, I break them in and pre-train them.
"Gary's place at Tirau is an absolute showpiece, so it is a fantastic environment in which to work.''
DR George Clegg, the greyhound training medico from the Gold Coast, also visited Sydney last weekend but he was in town to watch Pierata, the champion thoroughbred in which he is a part-owner, win the Missile Stakes at Randwick.
Dr George had no time for Wentworth Park that night as he had to fly home to care for his greyhounds, which include the classy sprinter Big Bad Bob, a contestant in Thursday night's Queensland final of the National Sprint Championship at Albion Park.
Big Bad Bob has won 22 of 62 starts and while Pierata's prizemoney dwarfs his earnings, the Doc is a greyhound man through and through, with a far longer association with dogs than horses.
I first met Dr George when I presented him with a trophy after his greyhound Kilbride won the Daily Mirror Stakes at Wentworth Park in the 1970s.
VICTORIAN-trained greyhounds have taken out the past four National Distance Championship grand finals but five of the qualifiers in their state final over 715m at Sandown on Thursday night are raced by NSW owners and were bred here.
Rippin' Sam (pictured), who has box three, Tornado Tears (seven) and Bolt Like Bekim (eight) are trained by Victoria's master trainer of stayers Robert Britton, but the Hunter Valley's Loren Harborne owns fastest heat winner Rippin' Sam.
The Central Coast's Michael Ivers bred Rippin' Sam and is the owner-breeder of Tornado Tears, while David Power, who is based at Weston, near Cessnock, is the former trainer of Bolt Like Bekim and retains ownership of that greyhound, who was bred by Dubbo's Shayne Stiff.
Sydneysiders Shaun Evans and Chris Nutt own the Andrea Dailly-trained NSW-bred Rockstar Patriot (box five), who finished fourth in Rippin' Sam's heat, while NSW country breeder Brendan Wheeler owns and bred the Correy Grenfell-trained Dyna Chancer, who was runner-up to Tornado Tears last week and has drawn six on Thursday.
Rippin' Sam won his Victorian heat at Sandown last week in 41.32sec, the fifth quickest 715m time recorded over that course, while Tornado Tears, sent out a $1.10 favourite, was checked off the leader's heels on the back straight before winning his heat in 42.00 to take his record to 15 wins from 24 starts.