Monique Whelan and her greyhound-loving family are living their racing dream this week, with homebred youngster Lakeview Walter joint favourite for Saturday night’s Group 1 Silver Chief (525m).
Lakeview Walter is the ‘baby’ of the field; he doesn’t turn two until April, and has raced only six times but he heads TAB betting at $3.20 along with Equalizer, trained by five-time Silver Chief winner Jason Thompson.
“It’s very, very exciting. I don’t think I’ve got my head around it yet,” said Monique.
“There’s just something about Lakeview Walter. I don’t really know how to explain it but he’s pretty special.
“He’s named after my husband Pete’s dad and he was born on Pete’s mum’s birthday so whether that has anything to do with it I’m not sure.”
After earning a crack at Group 1 glory with fast back-to-back Sandown victories, clocking 29.41s and 29.70s, Lakeview Walter was a $12.60 outsider in his Silver Chief heat.
But he came out running from box three and led all-the-way in 29.67s at his Meadows debut, which was the second fastest qualifying effort behind Earn The Answers’ 29.62s.
WATCH: Lakeview Walter win his Silver Chief heat from box three.
The son of the great Fernando Bale then skyrocketed to the top of betting after drawing box two for the $100,000 to-the-winner finale.
“It came down to the last two boxes and it was one or two but we couldn’t be happier with two,” Monique said.
“We’ve never been in a Group race before so we’re just lucky to have any box in a race like this!
“It’s going to be quite an exciting race because there wasn’t much between any of the heat winners.
“I don’t want to sound cocky but if he jumps like he did last week I suppose he definitely has a chance.”
The Lakeview Walter fairy tale is very much a family affair for the Whelans, with Monique’s husband Peter, sons Harley and Luke and daughters Lana, Christine and Brooke all part of the team.
“It means a bit more when you breed them yourself and this is the first litter that the boys, Harley and Luke, broke in themselves,” Monique explained.
“Unfortunately Pete and I won’t be there on Saturday but the boys definitely will be. It’s their dream and they’ve proved that they can do it now.
“Our biggest achievement before this would be winning two Greyhound of the Year awards at Sale with Lakeview Harley and Lakeview Maisey, which is Walter’s mother.
“Yesterday I reminded Luke about the time he walked past Lakeview Walter’s kennel and said I wonder if you’re ever going to do anything you dopey big thing! I said to Luke, don’t worry about this dopey thing, he might be the best you’ve ever had!” she added with a laugh.
The Whelans could have had two Silver Chief contenders with the undefeated Lakeview Max, a son of Melbourne Cup winner My Redeemer and Lakeview Grace, Lakeview Maisey’s litter sister, missing the series with a minor injury problem.
“He has just as much potential as Lakeview Walter but we’re just treading very lightly with him and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”