The tyranny of distance won’t stop Malgorzata Ginalska from watching Victorian star Wallbanger contest a Million Dollar Chase semi-final (520m) at Wentworth Park on Friday night.
She’ll tune in from her mother country, Poland – around 15,000km away – to watch her favourite greyhound in the biggest race of his career.
An MDC semi-final win would put Wallbanger into the MDC final – the world’s richest greyhound race – and a chance at a $1 million winner’s purse!
Malgorzata will watch the race around midday Poland time, with Sydney being nine hours ahead.
But how does the Wallbanger story stretch to the ‘other side of the world’?
Well, one of Wallbanger’s eclectic group of part-owners, Brett Osler, and Malgorzata established their own ‘Warsaw pact’ and the friendship gained ‘solidarity’.
A former ‘Warragul boy’, Osler, 41, a former GRV employee in the mid-2000s, now resides in Western Australia.
“I’ve been involved in a few greyhound syndicates with mates, and George Farrugia and I once worked together at National Greyhound Form and we stayed in touch,” Osler said.
“George advised me to keep an eye out for a few syndicates coming up and when one of the potential part-owners of Wallbanger didn’t proceed, I came off the ‘interchange bench’.”
Osler also got his sister Talarna, 25, involved as a part-owner, and this is where the story takes an emotional turn of sisterly love – and a Polish connection.
“I got a tick bite in the Amazon during a working holiday in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup series,” Osler said. “I went to Cyprus last year for two months’ treatment and I’m currently operating at around 80 per cent capacity.”
Osler added that Talarna was a great support when he got ill, so getting her involved in Wallbanger “was good to have something to further connect with her”.
The medical condition, known as Baggio-Yoshinari syndrome, has left Osler experiencing fatigue and pain and he’s still undergoing treatment for the symptoms.
But, while having treatment in Europe, Osler met Malgorzata in Poland and they developed a close bond.
“She visited Australia in January and spent two weeks here… We planned on seeing Wallbanger race in Melbourne, but he went to Sydney for the National Derby series,” Osler said. “Unfortunately, the day after he won at Wentworth Park, she had to return to Poland.”
Osler added that Malgorzata, who works in the IT field, “won’t miss the race for quids”.
“It’ll be during her lunch break and she’ll watch it either on Skype or What’s App,” he said. “I think she’s only missed one of Wallbanger’s races – she’s his No. 1 fan!”
Wallbanger (Jan ’18 Black Magic Opal x Absolute Stunna) has won 14 races, with 10 seconds and eight thirds, from 49 starts and $86,265 in stakes. He’s also notched two wins and one second from four starts at Wentworth Park.
He also finished third in the G2 McKenna Memorial, was second in a G1 Australian Cup heat (beaten 1.25L by Mister Harlewood) and fourth in a G1 National Derby heat.
Wallbanger, who is showing $201 in TAB’s MDC ‘All In’ market, is up against Shima Shine in his semi-final.
“You never know in this game,” Osler said. “It might be worth having $5 on him in the final if he won his semi.”
So, what would Osler do if Wallbanger ultimately won the MDC final and a $1 million payday?
“For me, I’d be on the first plane to Poland. And I reckon my sister would put down a deposit on a house… It would also match my biggest thrill in the sport as being the breeder of Panicked.”
No prizes for guessing Wallbanger is affectionately known as “Harvey” in trainer Angela Langton’s Anakie kennel.
But, due to COVID-19 border restrictions, Wallbanger has been entrusted to the care of NSW trainer Christine Proctor for his MDC campaign.
Pawnote: Ironically, Osler played football for Longwarry with Glenn and Grant Pask who are Wallbanger’s breeders.