• Wednesday, 15 Dec, 2021,
  • by Peter Quilty

‘Billy’ a Phoenix hero?

Meet greyhound racing’s Clancy of the Overflow, Ian Gilders, and his ‘bush hero’, Billy Creek.

Gilders, 71, hopes to write his own ‘bush ballad’ with Billy Creek in the inaugural $1.145m TAB The Phoenix (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.

Based at Beryl in the Central West region of NSW, around 300km from Sydney, Gilders has only been involved in the sport for five years and Billy Creek is a member of the only litter he has bred.

Naturally, Gilders and Billy Creek – a winner of 10 races from 22 starts – are already the ‘Cinderella’ story of the world’s only greyhound slot race which carries a $750,000 winner’s cheque.

In his younger days, Gilders worked in abattoirs in Bourke, Orange and Byron Bay before driving trucks and road trains for 30 years while living in the Goulburn Valley.

Later, he and wife Joy did the ‘Big Lap’ in a Mazda BT-50 with caravan in tow. It was a seven-year work/pleasure sojourn to most parts of Australia.

“We saw what we wanted to see then retired and bought a 24-acre property just to get out town,” Gilders quipped. “My wife said, ‘the coast or the mountains’ and I went for the latter.”

Then, early in 2016, Gilders’ brother David bred a litter – one of which raced as Midnight Jayne for Ian and is Billy Creek’s dam.

Champion Forbes trainer Ray Smith trained Midnight Jayne and Billy Creek’s sire, Brad Hill Billy – a four-time G1 finalist which finished second in the 2016 Golden Easter Egg.

“Ray wanted to buy her after noticing her racing at Bathurst and Dubbo,” Gilders said. “I didn’t want to sell her as she’s named after one of my granddaughters, so I asked him if he would like to train her.”

Gilders says he’ll keep Billy Creek for a $125,000 to-the-winner Dubbo 600m series in March and then “more than likely” transfer him to Smith.

Billy Creek booked a berth to the race of his life after taking out the NSW GBOTA’s ‘Flight to the Phoenix’.

WATCH: Billy Creek clocks 29.94sec in an exhibition trial at The Meadows last Saturday night.

Incredibly, Billy Creek was an 11th hour nomination for that series after Gilders was alerted by Bathurst GRC manager Jason Lyne.

“I was trialling him at Bathurst and thought it was just a promotional event for The Phoenix,” Gilders said. “I had a two-hour drive home and fortunately nominations were extended to 1pm. I arrived back with 10 minutes to spare.”

Subsequently, Billy Creek won the final in 29.82sec at Wentworth Park as a $19 rank outsider!

“I couldn’t believe the price they put up,” Gilders said. “I thought he should have been on the second or third line of betting.”

Billy Creek firmed dramatically, from $101 into $41, after his name was pulled out of the barrel first during last Sunday’s interactive box draw conducted at the Metropolis Functions & Events Centre in Southbank.

And Gilders didn’t need the minute allocated for a decision. He immediately opted for Box 1.

“He’s got early speed, so box one will suit him,” Gilders said. “I reckon he can run a place and it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. He comes home strongly.”

Gilders added racing for a $750,000 first prize was “very surreal”.

“You dream of it, but when it happens you say, ‘how did that happen’. I know I’m in it, but I’m still pinching myself. I keep thinking, ‘how can you do this from only one litter’.”

But Gilders says even if Billy Creek won The Phoenix, it wouldn’t be life changing.

“We like our life as it is. It would change a few things but not much. I might buy a new tractor.

“I’ve never been lucky, but this is the luck of the draw. We’re already winners and I’m just going down to enjoy the experience.”


  1. Billy Creek (NSW GBOTA)
  2. Jungle Deuce (GRNSW)
  3. Spotted Elk (Racing Queensland)
  4. Wow She’s Fast (Sportsbet)
  5. Aston Rupee (Ray Borda)
  6. Vice Grip (The Dogs WA)
  7. True Collinda (TAB)
  8. Koblenz (SEN)


  1. Lala Kiwi
  2. Lakeview Walter
Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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