Jacobs Well-based businessman and Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club sponsor Paul Felgate might just get a fairytale this Thursday night in his tenth anniversary of sponsoring the Queensland Derby.
The Group Two race, which dates back to the Gabba Greyhound Racing Club where the home of the Brisbane Lions now stands, was first sponsored by Mr Felgate’s electrical contractors business in 1999.
Now ten years on the former greyhound trainer has his first greyhound in the race as owner of speedy dog, Jamaican Bolt, named after the flamboyant world sprinting sensation from Jamaica, Usain Bolt.
Mr Felgate said he would be hoping his dog could run like Usain this Thursday night, and was confident he could win.
“I am confident in him but there are seven other great dogs in the race all capable of winning,” said Mr Felgate.
“I guess it’s a game of luck as to who can lead after the first turn.”
Jamaican Bolt won his heat last Thursday in blistering speed running a time of 30.19 from box three, and has drawn the same box in the final.
The top performer recently campaigned in Melbourne preparing for the Derby, with plans to continue on through the Winter Carnival in Brisbane and hopefully gain starts in the Imagetec Gold Coast Cup and Garrards Winter Carnival Cup.
Mr Feglate took over Brandons Electrical in 1987, after working for the formerly Graham Brandon-owned business, which was established in 1956.
The sponsorship has been more a love of the sport than anything for him, having been involved as a sponsor in racing since taking over the business and as a highly successful trainer with the likes of Group One bitch Miss Brook and champion sire, who recently passed, Just The Best.
Mr Felgate, who is also a director of the Queensland greyhound racing control body, Greyhounds Queensland Limited, said his earliest memories of the sport was watching Top Simbi take out the Lord Mayor’s cup in consecutive years in 1973-74.
“Greyhound racing was once a star attraction in Brisbane and used to get enormous crowds to the track,” he said.
“But things have changed as technology has developed and television like Sky Channel has come along, which has spread the racing word far and wide.
“I can still remember being at the Gabba watching Top Simbi, who was arguably one of Queensland’s true champion greyhounds, and its some of my fondest memories.”
He said he was hooked to the sport after training a winner at Capalaba when he was an apprentice electrician named Danty Crystal.
“I remember picking up my first winner on the straight (track) at Capalaba one Saturday afternoon, and being so excited that I had won,” he said.
“I was over the moon when I picked up the $40 winners cheque too.”
The prize money has definitely changed since then and this year is the tenth anniversary of the Brandons sponsorship of the Queensland Derby, which was first won in 1973 by Dixie’s First over 558m.
When the club was relocated to the Albion Park Raceway in 1993 it was changed to a 520m race and its status increased from Group Three to Group Two the year after Mr Felgate became the major sponsor and is now worth $38,000 in prizemoney.
Since then the race has been won by some of Queensland’s best like Black Enforcer, Superman and last year’s Queensland Greyhound of the Year, Size Can Matter.
Mr Felgate said he was proud to be associated with such a history-rich race.
“It is truly an iconic race for Brisbane, and a race which features heavily in the history of the city,”
“It would be fantastic to win my race and have my dog alongside some of these great greyhounds.”
The Brandons Electrical Queensland Derby will take place at the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club at Albion Park this Thursday, 18 June 2009. Gates open at 6pm, and will be celebrated with children’s entertainment and a competition to win a free $500 win-bet on the big race, thanks to Uni Tab.
For further information on the night visit www.brisgreys.com