Murray Collyer (left) received the prestigious Noel Banks Medal, while Swinton was crowned the Coursing Greyhound of the Year.

  • Tuesday, 30 Jan, 2024,
  • by Victoria Shaw

2023 Coursing Awards

With the National Coursing Association of Victoria’s (NCAV) annual awards night being held on Australia Day Eve at Sandown Park, a wonderful and diverse group of people assembled to celebrate not just the achievements of those with a long-standing history in the sport but those that will also help shape this time-honoured activity well into the future.

Many of you reading this, will be aware of the great depth of knowledge NCAV president Peter Craig has for greyhound coursing, racing and, most importantly, the greyhound.

Having bred one of the modern racing greats – Wow She’s Fast who amassed a world record $2,491,995 in prizemoney – Craig also bred and raced back-to-back Waterloo Cup winners in 2022 and 2023: He’s No Slouch (My Bro Fabio x Fair Of Face) the 2022 Waterloo Cup winner, a litter brother of Wow She’s Fast, and Funny Old Fellow (Aston Kimetto x Popowski).

Craig and his coursing peers are always keen to extend their level of expertise to the next generation. And greyhound coursing is the perfect environment to welcome newcomers to the sport.

Of the NCAV’s awards highlights, time spent with youngsters Mileya Johnson – recipient of the Junior Encouragement Award presented by Chelsi Madigan, another young woman forging a path in greyhound coursing – was delightful. Both young women demonstrated the importance of coursing for young people to build their skills and confidence when presenting greyhounds for competition.

Mythical Queen in action.


Greyhound of the YearSwinton
Female Greyhound of the YearMythical Queen
Trainer of the YearDallas Massina
Owner of the Year – ‘Country Mile’ syndicate & ‘SMKN’ syndicate
Noel Banks MedalMurray Collyer
Junior Encouragement Award – Mileya Johnson

It was also interesting to observe, when speaking with both young women, that neither of them made any reference to feeling awkward, overwhelmed, or intimidated in a sport, where men and women compete on a level playing field with their animals. And for Madigan, 25, and Johnson, 13, they will be able to continue and live their potential greyhound dreams. A fitting example of how open and fair greyhound coursing is to all its participants.

Other focal points of the awards evening included the award for 2023 Coursing Greyhound of the Year, Swinton (Barcia Bale x Bakali), which was accepted by Chelsi Madigan. Swinton coursed with great heart throughout the season and was runner-up in the 2023 Waterloo Cup by a very narrow margin to Funny Old Fellow as well as winning the Victorian Derby and Sylvester Doyle Puppy Championship and trained by Chelsi’s mum, Dallas Massina.

Heather Villinger presented the 2023 Coursing Trainer of the Year award to Dallas Massina. And Massina expressed her thoughts on the success of the 2023 coursing season which was certainly praiseworthy considering her run of success, which also extended to Swinton’s littermates – Aminah, Kinchela, Tikarni and Teonna – and kennelmates Kyanna and Yallaroo (Raw Ability x Nallak).

Murray Collyer presented the trophy to owner Patrick Lithgow for the 2023 Coursing Bitch of the Year, acknowledging the wonderful efforts of Mythical Queen (Aussie Infrared x Gotham Queen) winning the Longwood Cup and 150th Anniversary Bitches Special Event. She is owned by several greyhound coursing newcomers from the Glen Eira Football Club who have enjoyed both coursing thrills up the straight and on circular racetracks, including second place in the Listed Bendigo Roses.

A tie between the ‘Country Mile’ syndicate and the ‘SMKN’ syndicate for Owner of the Year had Sean Lithgow busy presenting trophies to both groups of owners. Chelsi Madigan accepted on behalf of the ‘Country Mile’ syndicate comprising members of the Massina family. And Kerryn Maynes accepted on behalf of the ‘SMKN’ syndicate for their greyhound, Mythical Queen. ‘SMKN’ syndicate members include Kerryn Maynes, Denise Maynes, Nicole Riseley and Sean and Melanie Lithgow. On a sad note, it was regrettable to learn of the passing of Victorian coursing legend, Gotham Queen (Barcia Bale x Evie’s Entity) – winner of the 2019 Ray Boundy Memorial and numerous other coursing events, as well as an impressive race record (64:18-10-6). Maynes spoke fondly of the late Gotham Queen, who sadly succumbed to cancer, and the emotional void created by her loss.

However, with Gotham Queen’s progeny racing and coursing, and most noticeably in her daughter, Mythical Queen, both Maynes and her fellow syndicate members have noticed not just the continuation of Victorian coursing’s ‘crown’, but so many of Gotham Queen’s wonderful traits carrying on.

Towards the end of the evening, Heather Villinger was presented with a magnificent bouquet of flowers from the NCAV as an expression of sincere thanks for many years of voluntary service and unwavering dedication which has helped support the success of Victorian greyhound coursing. An emotional Villinger addressed the room at large, informing us all of her ‘retirement.’

And emotions were at an all-time high when Murray Collyer realised that he was recipient of the much-coveted Noel Banks Medal for 2023 – although at first, when called up in front of the gathering, Collyer thought he was assisting the NCAV’s president Peter Craig with official duties. Only for Craig to have, in front of us all, ‘surprise’ an unsuspecting Collyer with the award for ‘outstanding and continuous service’ that left Collyer in his own words, “flabbergasted”!

Craig reflected on Collyer’s many years of voluntary work that even extends to playing Santa Claus at The Meadows and Healesville – further examples of how much personal time the owner-trainer has given greyhound coursing and racing since first obtaining his trainer’s licence in 1985.

Since 1873, greyhound coursing in Victoria has paved the way for the modern sport that we all enjoy and love today – greyhound racing. And some 150 years later, greyhound coursing is still an integral part of the Victorian greyhound racing jurisdiction thanks to the passion, dedication and comradery of all those associated with the National Coursing Association of Victoria.

Victoria ShawVictoria Shaw

Victoria Shaw

Australia’s only female race caller and the only woman in the world to have broadcast four codes of racing in this country and overseas. Victoria has co-hosted international racing awards and hosted racing forums focusing on women’s inclusion within international racing communities including Poland, Morocco, Spain & the United Arab Emirates. She has called races on the Victorian thoroughbred picnic circuit and at numerous greyhound tracks around the state as well as the 2020 Waterloo Cup. Victoria is fascinated by the incredible efforts of racing animals as well as the people that love and prepare them, no matter where they are in the world.

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