Mike Cleary Sprint At Wenty Set For November 29th 2008

The Wentworth Park greyhound meeting on Saturday night November 29 will have the added attraction of professional athletics racing.

Greyhound racing on this night will feature heats of the Group 3 Rapidvite Potential Stakes over the 520m, an age restricted race for the stars of the future.

In addition the NSW Athletics League will be joining the NSW GBOTA to conduct the “Mike Cleary Sprints”, a heats and final series of sprint racing over 100 yards.

The inaugural Mike Cleary Sprint was conducted at the venue as part of the NCA’s Wentworth Park greyhound race meeting on December 8, 2007. Following the NSW GBOTA taking over the conduct of all race meetings at the Glebe circuit this popular athletics promotion will take place again this year with the GBOTA and the athletics body joining forces to repeat last year’s promotion.

The Mike Cleary Sprint is named after the man involved in Australia’s most famous match race, when dual league and rugby international Cleary, also winner of a Commonwealth Games track bronze medal, raced against Rugby League legend Ken Irvine at the famous Glebe race track.

The clash generated substantial public interest and a crowd of 11,000 spectators turned out on Easter Saturday in 1964 to see the two Rugby League legends in the 100 yards dash.

On that occasion Cleary the South Sydney winger celebrated a narrow win over his North Sydney rival to take the purse of 1000 pounds (which Cleary is reported to have split with Irvine).

The November 29 program at Wentworth Park will involve a top shelf ten race greyhound program with the Mike Cleary Sprint heats conducted in between early races and eight contestants will line up for the final later on the program after race 6 or 7.

It is hoped that SKY Channel may be able to show the final live, subject to program commitments. As occurred last year, subject to government approval race goers will be able to bet on course with the bookmakers on the athletics events.

GBOTA Chairman Bill Mangafas said his Association was delighted to be hosting this sprint race series in conjunction with the NSW Athletics League.

“This is an exciting promotion and there’s lots of nostalgia attached to this event named in honour of one of our most exciting footballers and former NSW Racing Minister,” Mr Mangafas explained.

“Mike Cleary will be our special guest on the night and will making the presentation for this event which carries a total purse of $5000”, Mr Mangafas added.

A Media Launch will be conducted at the Wentworth Park greyhound track commencing 11.00 am on Tuesday November 25.

Accompanying Mike Cleary AO at the media launch will be both the youngest and oldest runners entered together with GBOTA Chairman Bill Mangafas, Bill Edwards President of the NSW Athletics League and John Scott, Sports Marketing Consultant engaged by the Athletics League for the Mike Cleary Sprints.