Sporting champions, media heavyweights and politicians stood with the who's who of greyhound racing at Wentworth Park for the TAB Million Dollar Chase grand final, but they all took a back seat to the star of the show.
In front of a packed grandstand, She's A Pearl claimed the $1 million first prize with a stunning win. In doing so, she amassed her 12th consecutive win in Winx-like fashion and elevated herself to the status of world's champion greyhound.
Awestruck onlookers included Parramatta NRL players Mitch Moses and Regan Campbell-Gillard, who were celebrating their team's win over reigning premier Penrith 24 hours earlier. Boxing star Harry Garside was ringside, impressed with the night's racing and the fact that entry proceeds will go towards GRNSW's adoption programs through Greyhounds As Pets, which the emerging pugilist has vowed to promote.
Actor-writer Matt Nable and executives from leading media publishers and wagering organisations were also in attendance, as were several politicians from a variety of parties, including co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends Of Greyhound Racing, and the member for Wollondilly, Nathaniel Smith.
"It was a hugely successful night both on and off the track," said Greyhound Racing NSW CEO Tony Mestrov.
"From an industry perspective, to have such a wide and diverse range of support on the night, was testimony to how far greyhound racing in this State has come, and recognition of the racing to rehoming mission that we have been on in most recent times. But the real stars of the night were those who produced some remarkable performances on the track, and none more than She's A Pearl. She is on her way to becoming one of our greatest ever, and my congratulations go to [trainers] Jodie and Andy Lord, and the connections of this wonderful bitch. All sports are crying out for heroes and in many ways, just like Winx was for the thoroughbreds, right now, She's A Pearl is just that for us."
She's A Pearl has now amassed $1,353,010 in prize money from her 23 race wins.
It was also a great night for 24-year-old Kimberley Kowalski from Cessnock, who took home $10,000 from an on-track promotion tagged the world's richest lucky door prize. After her name was selected randomly from ticket entries, Kimberley had a one in 100 chance of becoming an instant millionaire by selecting the correct envelope, but was more than happy with her $10,000, declaring she "could buy more greyhounds".
"We have taken a lot out of this TAB Million Dollar Chase - which was actually the 2021 edition postponed from last year - and just as the case has been with previous Million Dollar Chase events, the next one in September will be even better," Mestrov said.
The race was also broadcast to a new audience through the Fox League channel which featured 10 minutes of coverage immediately following the final game of their Saturday night rugby league telecast.
"We couldn't be happier with our new partnership with Fox League," Mestrov said.
"They [also] gave us some outstanding support and promotion leading into the big night. We look forward to again working with them for our next feature race, The 715 worth $500,000 on June 11 at The Gardens in Newcastle."
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.