The tale of Chips And Trains is more than just a story about eating chips and playing trains.
Chips And Trains is a story about a young girl with an incurable illness, and a greyhound with a funny name; Chips And Trains.
Pippa Rea was just nine years old when she was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glimoa; an aggressive Brainstem Tumour that affects young children. There is no cure, and surgery is not an option, but Virginia – Pippa’s mother – and her brothers James and Patrick consider themselves fortunate, because they had 21 months to create as many happy memories with their precious daughter and sister.
The Rea family is based in Warrnambool, yet Pippa’s journey took them all over the world – from the Great Ocean Road to the Eiffel Tower – but it was her love of greyhounds that took her to Western Australia one final time.
I first learnt of Pippa’s journey through my former boss and mentor, Linda Britton. Virginia is related to the Britton family and is very aware that her connections to greyhound racing are rooted to some of the best in the business.
Visiting Linda’s kennels was a part of Pippa’s journey, a very important part in fact. She loved animals and her affection towards the greyhounds was nothing short of adorable.
Pippa took her role with the greyhounds very seriously and I count myself as one of the lucky ones having witnessed first-hand the care she took. There were pups to be fed, nails to be clipped, pats to be given and smiles to be shared.
Then Linda gave Pippa another job. One that would require imagination, creativity and passion. She was to think up a kennel name for every pup on the property.
With the same enthusiasm she had shown to the care of the dogs, Pippa drew up many lists. Amongst them were Group 1 Sale Cup and Australian Super Stayers winner Star Recall (Peta) and a dog very close to my heart Gone To Heaven (Jelly).
Pippa also gave Linda one race name; Chips And Trains.
The name originated from one of Pippa’s young friends, Amyius, who was two years old at the time of Pippa’s diagnosis. Amyius would regularly send his well-wishes to Pippa in a video and would always ask when she was coming home so they could ‘eat chips and play trains’.
Pippa’s influence extends to Chips And Trains’ Syndicate ‘Legs Eleven Pippa’, made up of Virginia and Linda, after Pippa requested she be called ‘legs 11’ on her 11th birthday.
WATCH: Chips And Trains win his Maiden for trainer Chris Halse from box seven at Cannington in May.
Chips And Trains, the striking blue son of Collide and Revealed, has so far won three races from six starts. Virginia flew over to WA for his first race, where Chips And Trains claimed his maiden win from box seven.
Pippa didn’t see her dog win. She died on March 28, 2015; 42 days after her ‘legs 11’ birthday.
Race caller Peter O’Neill declared the maiden win was ‘Pippa shining down on Cannington’.
Virginia recalls Pippa saying before she died that it’s okay to have sad feelings and happy memories. Throughout Pippa’s journey, Virginia (who is one of the most remarkable women I have met) kept a blog to capture all of those sad feelings and happy memories (pipparea.com).
Chips And Trains will run on in memory of Pippa, and will raise funds via the Legs Eleven Pippa Syndicate to create awareness and support research into children’s brain cancer. May there be many more wins for this beautiful dog with the funny name.