Country Challenge Road Trip
- Muswellbrook – 1st
- Taree – 2nd
- Cowra – 5th
- Lithgow – 4th
- Goulburn – Heats
- Moree – Heats
- The Gardens – 2nd
- Wauchope – Heats
- Armidale – Heats
- Potts Park – 5th
- Coonabarabran – Heats
- Young – Heats
- Gunnedah – Heats
- Appin – Heats
- Broken Hill – Heats
- Kempsey – 3rd
Finishing Position: 1st (47 points)
The long road has never been so apt to describe the travels of Joanne Russell and her beloved five and half year old dog Token Mulwee as they traversed across the great state of New South Wales in the pursuit of GRNSW Country Challenge success. Approximately 15,040 kilometres were travelled which equates to 170 hours of driving time, as Token went on a country roadshow ranging from the north at Moree to the far west of Broken Hill to the south of Goulburn.
Token Mulwee stitched up a deserved Country Challenge series win with a third in the last final for the year at Kempsey to overtake Montana Belle in a nail biting conclusion to an enthralling series.
First cab off the rank for Token was the Muswellbrook Country Challenge where he swept through his heat into the final, running out a comfortable winner at a touch better than even money as owner/trainer Joanne Russell set about winning the big prize of $10,000 as series winner.
An excellent second to last years Country Challenge winner Kingsbrae Di at Taree followed by two finals appearances at Cowra and Lithgow gave Token a jump start on his opposition, with him taking control at the top of the leaderboard in November. This would prove to be the difference come June when Montana Belle was making his late charge.
After a second in The Gardens final, the old timer had a succession of heat starts but failed to make the finals, only interrupted by a fifth at the Potts Park straight out event.
With others starting to make a beeline for the overall series winner purse, doubts were cast over Token Mulwee’s ability to maintain his status as series leader. The return trip of 2,200 kilometres didn’t phase Joanne Russell as she entered Token in the Broken Hill series but he again failed to qualify for the final running a closing third in his heat.
Enter his favourite track, Kempsey. The last event on the GRNSW Country Challenge calendar was the setting for Token Mulwee, who after Montana Belle placed second in Broken Hill, would have to qualify for the final and run seventh or better to regain the lead and win the overall Country Challenge series.
Having only missed a place at Kempsey once in thirteen previous occasions, the 32 kilogram black dog was back to the winners circle in his heat, winning in style as a warm favourite. Seventh or better was the equation for Token but he made sure of his own destiny by running an amazing third, much to the elation of Ms Russell who collected $10,000 and made those hours in the car worth every second as she completed her mission of series glory.
In what will be the last start for grand campaigner Token Mulwee, it is worth reflecting on his debut almost four years ago at the now defunct Singleton track near his home base of Eagleton.
Over 141 starts since, he has been a legend for his owner and a bold showing in the Showdown final for one of the oldest greyhounds still in work, would be a fitting end to a great career.