WHAT a year it has been for the sport of greyhound racing.
2015 has seen some of the biggest challenges ever faced by the industry following on from February’s infamous live baiting scandal, but we have also been witness to some terrific performances by some incredible canine athletes.
With the year now coming to a close, we recount some of those sensational chasers which have dazzled us with their brilliance.
Below are our top 15 greyhounds of 2015. Many of them stole the spotlight in some of the biggest races around the country, with others acknowledged for their ultra-consistent efforts at the highest level.
#15 – Above All
This injury plagued sprinter could have been anything. The Rob Britton-trained son of Magic Sprite and Kara Janx started the year with a bang, defeating Dyna Villa and Dyna Double One to score a scintillating victory in the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic at The Meadows. Unfortunately, he was limited to just 10 starts during 2015, but they included a fourth placing in the Group 1 Temlee, a third spot in the Listed Cup Night Sprint and another fourth in the Group 1 Hobart Thousand.
Watch Above All (5) defeating a classy field to take out the 2015 Silver Chief Classic.
#14 – Luca Neveelk
The blue greyhound gave all the little guys hope during the year when the Gerry and Rose Kleeven-trained dog won the Group 1 Australian Cup at The Meadows. He also finished second in the Group 2 Warragul Cup and made the finals of Group 2 Cranbourne Cup and the Group 3 Collins Memorial before injury ultimately ended his career in a heat of the Group 2 Traralgon Cup.
Luca Neveelk retired with the record of 48 starts for 29 wins and 12 minor placings with over $500,000 in earnings and has since made the move to the breeding barn and has served a handful of bitches.
Remember Luca Neveelk (4) winning the Australian Cup.
#13 – Ronray Spirit
The son of Cosmic Rumble and Ronray Disco was one of the most reliable chasers throughout the year, scoring terrific wins in the Group 2 Warragul and Warrnambool Cups. The black speedster also qualified for the 2015 Group 2 Shepparton, Bendigo and Healesville Cups, while he also made the final of the biggest race in NSW, the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg, back in April.
Ronray Spirit (2) scored a top victory in the Group 2 Warrnambool Cup.
#12 – Keybow
Mr. Consistency, Keybow did not taste feature success in the year that was, but he did perform extremely well at the highest level. The Tony Brett-trained sprinter ran second in the Group 1 Dapto Megastar, third in the Group 1 Winter Cup and in the Group 1 National Sprint Championship, while he also made the final of the Group 1 Topgun.
Keybow retired after finishing midfield in the Topgun, going out as the winner of two Group 1s (2014 Perth & Brisbane Cups) and prize money in excess of $580,000.
The ultra consistent Keybow (2) featured regularly in the winners circle in 2015.
#11 – Fantastic Spiral
The regally-bred chaser won the Group 1 Dapto Megastar where he defeated a high quality field, while he also ran third in December’s Group 1 Brisbane Cup at Albion Park behind superstar sprinter Dyna Double One. Add being a finalist in both the Group 1 Topgun and the Group 3 Nowra Puppy Classic and you have a greyhound truly deserving of a spot on our list.
Watch Fantastic Spiral (3) winning the Group 1 Dapto Megastar
#10 – Bessy Boo
The king of Wentworth Park, Bessy Boo scored 11 wins at headquarters throughout the year for Christine and Alan Proctor including the NSW Sprint Championship final. The black dog then went on to run a gallant second behind Fernando Bale in the National decider held at the Glebe circuit. The son of Bekim Bale and My Black Bess also qualified for the Group 2 Richmond Derby, the Group 1 Dapto Megastar and the Group 1 Topgun at The Meadows throughout the year.
Watch Bessy Boo (6) winning the NSW Sprint Championship.
#9 – Lady Toy
If you look up the term bridesmaid in the dictionary, you are bound to see a picture of Lady Toy. The Norma Gost-owned bitch took out the Group 2 McKenna Memorial at Sandown Park, but finished second in a string of Group 1s. The unfashionably bred daughter of Our Toyman and Railway Shiraz filled the quinella spot in the WA Galaxy, the Sandown Cup, the Association Cup and the Superstayers, while she also finished third in the Group 3 Lizrene. On top of those placings, Lady Toy also qualified for the finals of the Group 1 Zoom Top, the Group 1 Albion Park Gold Cup, the Group 1 National Distance Championship and the Group 1 Bold Trease.
Amazingly, her career earnings stand at a whopping $388,043 – not bad considering she has never won a coveted Group 1 trophy.
Lady Toy (3) broke through for a Group 2 win in the McKenna Memorial.
#8 – My Bro Fabio
Trained by Brooke and Jamie Ennis, My Bro Fabio retired in 2015 as the winner of 26 races from 52 career starts and $478,585 in prize money earnings. The son of Turanza Bale and Flamenco won two Group 1s in 2015, those being the Perth Cup and the Temlee. He has since gone to stud and served a number of high profile bitches, including Zipping Catra, Cheetah Zorro, Midnight Lace, Zipping Summah, Lady Jasmin and Florinda Belle.
My Bro Fabio (8) won the 2015 Perth Cup in brilliant fashion.
#7 – Secret Spell
The Kelly and Brett Bravo-trained bitch broke through at the highest level with a stunning triumph in the Group 1 Hume Cup, with that win following some big performances throughout 2015 which saw her qualify for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup, the Group 1 Adelaide Cup and the Group 1 Maturity Classic.
Watch Secret Spell (2) taking out the Group 1 Hume Cup at The Meadows.
#6 – Kayda Shae
A son of Adelaide Cup hero Kilty Lad and Cosmic Aphrodite, Kayda Shae may have failed to win a Group 1 race during 2015, but his consistent performances on the top stage make him one of the standout chasers of the year. The red fawn dog won two features – the Group 2 Cyril Rowe Cup and the Group 2 Shootout – however, arguably his best performance was a tenacious second to Fernando Bale in the Group 1 Topgun.
Kayda Shae (5) emphatically won the Group 2 Shootout at Sandown Park.
#5 – Lamia Bale
The incredibly consistent Lamia Bale never really stole the spotlight throughout the year, but she was undeniably one of the most reliable greyhounds in work. The Steve Collins-trained bitch was retired after finishing down the track in the Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial at Sandown Park, but prior to that she enjoyed a stellar year which saw her win the Group 1 Sapphire Crown and the Group 3 Ambrosoli as well as running second in the Group 1 Rookie Rebel and the Group 3 Collins Memorial, third in the Listed Australian Sprint and a finalist in the Group 1 Australian Cup, the Group 1 Topgun and the Group 1 Melbourne Cup.
Lamia Bale (6) took out the Sapphire Crown in impressive fashion
#4 – Sweet It Is
The queen of the staying scene, Sweet It Is faced a controversial year on the track, but she was still a mighty bitch worth of a spot in the top 10. The daughter of Mogambo and Off Springer became just the second greyhound to break the $1 million mark and did so courtesy of winning the 2015 Group 1 National Distance Championship, the Group 1 Sandown Cup, the Group 2 Topgun Stayers and the Group 3 Sydney Cup. She retired after coming on season late in the year and has since been mated to former great Turanza Bale.
Relive Sweet It Is (2) taking out the 2015 Sandown Cup.
#3 – Dyna Double One
The stunning black speed machine started the year with a gallant third behind Above All and Dyna Villa in the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic and went on to become known as a perennial bridesmaid. Throughout 2015, Dyna Double One competed in 13 Group finals – finishing in the placings in six of those – including the Group 1 Peter Mosman Classic, Group 1 Winter Cup, Group 1 Topgun and the Group 2 Shootout. The son of Barcia Bale and Crystin Bale finally broke through for a deserved win at the highest level when he ran down his superstar kennel mate Fernando Bale in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park. Following that series, Dyna Double One headed to Brisbane where the track record holder scored a dominant win in the Group 1 Brisbane Cup, elevating his career earnings above $800,000 in the process.
Check out Dyna Double One (2) scoring his first Group 1 in the Melbourne Cup final.
#2 – Space Star
Ah, what could have been! At the beginning of 2015 Space Star looked like he was going to become an absolute champion of the staying scene, but injury would ultimately cause him to spend over six months on the sidelines. Nonetheless, the son of Bekim Bale and Tonto Tears was breathtaking when on song, winning three Group 1s under the tutelage of Rob Britton, those being the Association Cup, WA Galaxy and the Zoom Top. He also claimed the 2015 Group 2 Summer Distance Plate and the Group 3 Wentworth Park Gold Cup.
Space Star (2) scored a big win in the Group 1 Association Cup.
#1 – Fernando Bale
How could you go past the champion? In a time when greyhound racing needed something to be proud of, along came a white and dark brindle dog like no other. Trained by Andrea Dailly, Fernando Bale started 2015 with the humble record of four starts for two wins, but upon retirement in December had amassed 35 victories and five minor placings from 44 career starts with a world record $1,299,370 in career earnings. Included in those victories were eight triumphs at Group 1 level (National Derby, Golden Easter Egg, Harrison-Dawson, Maturity Classic, National Sprint Championship, Peter Mosman Classic, Adelaide Cup and the Topgun), two Group 2s (Ballarat Cup, Traralgon Cup) and one Group 3 (Collins Memorial). Fernando Bale also retired with two track records to his name (Bendigo 23.39, Traralgon 29.96) and was also one of only two greyhounds to have broken the elusive 29 second barrier at Sandown Park.
Stand and cheer! Fernando Bale breaks the $1 million mark in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup.