One of Victorian greyhound racing’s most respected families is in mourning, following the passing of Group 1-winning trainer Mary Mugavin-Brown.
Mugavin-Brown, 62, was the daughter of Kevin Mugavin, with her siblings including Noel and Kevin Junior, all of whom have enjoyed great success as breeders, owners, and trainers.
The family also has extremely close ties with the AFL community, with Mary’s son Jonathan Brown, a former Brisbane Lions champion and triple premiership player, while husband Brian played with Fitzroy, as did brother Noel.
It has been an especially sad period for the family, with Mary’s sister Julie’s husband, former Collingwood legend Billy Picken, passing away in July.
“Mary was a terrific lady and she’ll be sadly missed,” said brother Kevin.
Mary was best-known in greyhound racing circles for her wonderful association with superstar sprinter Modern Assassin, dual G1 winner of the Perth Cup (pictured above) and Paws Of Thunder in 2002 .
Remarkably, the first greyhound Mary trained, Modern Assassin, a son of champion sire Awesome Assassin and Magic Gairn, bred by her brother Kevin, won 40 of his 78 starts.
In addition to his G1 conquests, he finished runner-up in the Winter Carnival Cup (Brisbane), third in the National Sprint Championship, and contested the finals of the Topgun, Golden Easter Egg, and Hobart Thousand.
He also won the G2 Geelong Cup, and held the Sandown Park track record at 29.49sec.
“He’s just such a placid dog; he’s so quiet and you never hear a word out of him. He’s so lovable but he soon switches on when he gets to the track. He’s just a wonderful dog and we’ve certainly had a lot of fun with him,” Mugavin-Brown told The Greyhound Recorder at the time.
Mary’s son Matthew also enjoyed a close bond with Modern Assassin, travelling across the country with the family’s powerhouse chaser.
“I bred the litter – I think there might have been ten in the litter – and Mary and young Matthew were keen to get a couple of pups,” Kevin recalled.
“Mary picked him out, I think she thought he was a bit shy. They called him ‘Zac’ and they also had his sister (Magic Zoe).
“The whole litter could run a bit, but Modern Assassin was definitely the standout.
“I was lucky enough to have some success in the early ‘90s to the mid-2000s. Golden Currency, Modern Express, which won the (Victorian) Greyhound of the Year, Poetic Reward, Honcho Classic, which was a top sire over in Ireland, and Modern Assassin. They would be the top five dogs I bred.
“I gave Mary and Matt a hand along the way, but Mary took it on, and they had great success with Modern Assassin. Whatever Mary did, she didn’t do anything by halves.
“He was a brilliant dog and gave Mary great joy. There’s a lot of memories to think about.
“I also gave Mary another couple of handy pups after Modern Assassin, called Prince Assassin and Awesome Spirit. They were also by Awesome Assassin, out of Sure Princess, and had good success too.”
Mary is survived by husband Brian, children Jonathan, Matthew, Timothy, and Gabrielle, and ten grandchildren.
Her funeral will be held on Thursday, September 15, at 11.30am, at Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Koroit. In lieu of flowers, donations to The Fred Hollows Foundation would be appreciated.
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