Molly Haines shares her experience of coming to Melbourne all the way from WA to take part in the world’s richest three-week greyhound racing series.
PART 1: FROM WA TO THE TEMLEE
The excitement when receiving an invitation to an event like the Temlee can only be appreciated by those in the greyhound industry. I was lucky enough to be a part of this experience with Linda Britton’s Zelemar Fever.
In excitement I called Linda at 6am to tell her the news. Although Linda was very happy with Zelemer Fever making it through I doubt she was too impressed because she was still in bed!
Zelemar Fever is lovingly named Ivy, and has been a favourite of mine since she stepped paw into Linda’s kennels. I think it was the fact I had permission from Linda to spoil her, that she has become my favourite, now we share a bond like no other. Ivy’s jet black coat and big brown eyes matched with her crazy mood swings made her all the more fun to be around.
On the Wednesday leading up to the Temlee, Ivy and I boarded our Virgin aircraft with two extra’s; High Recall and Te Amo, much to Ivy’s disgust! Our girl’s vacation was underway as I reluctantly put the three girls in their cages. It was the first time I had travelled to Melbourne with the girls and it was such a hard experience leaving them. Throughout the flight I was hoping they were all okay.
Ivy’s breeder and previous owner Robert Crawford greeted me at the airport. Linda and I both decided prior to coming over that we would stay at Pace Park Kennels (Ivy’s old home), so that she was in a familiar environment leading up to the Temlee.
Robby was so excited to see Ivy when we took the girls from their crates that he mistook Te Amo for her (they are both black bitch’s but quite different in frame!). It proved to be a laughing point on multiple occasions throughout my stay at the Crawford’s.
Ivy was confidently strutting her stuff at her old home and showed no signs of stress from the flight. She was frollocking around the Crawford’s lush green grass, even rolling around as if she still owned the place.
Ivy was waiting for me to get her out very patiently; she jumped up for a quick cuddle before I had to walk her. As I walked her around to warm her up for the race there seemed to be cameras everywhere, it was a different feeling than being in Perth, the atmosphere was electric and there was an air of anticipation.
Ivy put on a strut as if aware she had plenty of people watching her. We went back into the kennels to put her black and white vest on and get checked over by the vet for the second and final time. Ivy pulled me back outside as she heard a man call “one minute to stir up”. As I held my little girl up so she could see the bunny I could feel her heart go a million miles an hour in excitement, I am pretty sure my heart was going just as fast. When the stir up ended Ivy let out an almighty bark and I knew she was ready.
Walking to the boxes behind one of greyhound racing’s superstars Paw Licking in box one I was very excited, the tension in the massive crowd was palpable and the cameras were clicking away trying to get the perfect shot. I worried about how Ivy would go in front of such a big crowd because she isn’t very fond of new people. All the extra attention didn’t bother her at all; she was there to do one thing and one thing only chase that bunny!
Standing behind the boxes I almost felt relaxed, even with Sky Racing cameras on us. I was quietly hoping that Ivy would sit behind Paw Licking after they jump because I knew she would be able to run him down if he wasn’t too far in front.
The Meadows staff called for all the dogs to be the lined up and odd numbers moved in. I told Ivy how proud I already was and didn’t care how she went as long as she got around safely.
All of a sudden it was time, I moved her into the boxes and put the lid down. As soon as I let go I got nervous, I stood behind her box and waited for the lids to open my heart pounding out of my chest as an awesome sense of anticipation coupled with profound nerves overcame my body.
As the bunny shot past me and the lids flew open I saw Paw Licking ping to the lead, with little Ivy in the white and black vest sitting behind him. Paw Licking started to extend his lead to about seven lengths down the back and I began to get nervous, coming around the home bend I thought Ivy had made up just enough ground to run Paw Licking down.
The intensity of my heart beat increased as my little girl snuck up on the inside in the shadows of the post and became the 2014 Temlee champion!
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – I had congratulations flying at me from left right and centre. I was quickly grabbed to do the post race interview with Sky Racing; I still can’t remember what I said because it was such a blur, all I wanted to do was see my little girl and give her the biggest cuddle.
It felt like the longest walk in history as I saw Ivy heading towards me, I could see flashes of what felt like 100 cameras as I gave her a big kiss and cuddle. Walking her back past the crowd I almost felt like royalty with people waving and screaming out to us. The moment I saw Linda, Gary and Craig at the finishing post it all became reality, Zelemar Fever had just taken out the 2014 Temlee for her new owners.
Listening to the acceptance speech from Gary as he thanked her connections all I wanted to do was cry with happiness, having our photos snapped constantly forced my tears away. Winning this race for Gary and Craig had nothing to do with money – it was the fact they now had a dog capable of mixing it with the best Australian greyhound racing has to offer.
As Linda did her interviews after the race one thing she said continually stood out to me, the fact that this win was her most meaningful because it was an invite only race. I couldn’t agree more, not only because I love Ivy like my own but because the Temlee field was hand selected.