As the greyhound racing world turns its gaze to The Meadows this December 16, the stage is set for an unparalleled spectacle of speed and strategy. The Phoenix, Australia’s richest greyhound race, is back in 2023, offering a staggering $1.65 million in prize money, with the winner taking home an enviable $1 million. This year marks the third running of this thrilling event, which has quickly established itself as a hallmark of greyhound racing excellence.
Credit to the image source: australianracinggreyhound.com
Modeled after the US’s Pegasus World Cup and Australia’s The Everest, The Phoenix stands out as the world’s richest greyhound race. The Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association (MGRA) has again set the stage for this high-profile event, where eight elite contenders will battle for racing glory and the million-dollar purse.
The selection process for the eight coveted slots, each costing $100,000, was overseen by an Independent Assessment Panel (IAP) led by former Premier of Victoria, Dr Denis Napthine. The panel’s selections, announced in September, have set the scene for a showdown of the finest greyhounds, each representing a mix of speed, agility, and racing prowess.
Last year’s edition of The Phoenix saw Wow She’s Fast capturing hearts and headlines, elevating her as the highest prizemoney-earning greyhound of all time. This media attention has elevated The Phoenix to a premier event and highlighted greyhound racing’s thrilling nature. The Meadows, synonymous with elite racing, adds prestige to the event, hosting other renowned races like the Australian Cup and Topgun.
This year’s lineup is spectacular, with each contender bringing a unique story to the track. The box draw has set the stage for an intriguing race:
Pass The Buck: Trained by Anthony Azzopardi, this young star drew the coveted box one. With a blend of raw talent and strategic positioning, Pass The Buck is a favourite to watch.
Hector Fawley: A formidable contender, his draw in box two makes him a strong challenger for the title.
Alpha Zulu: Co-owned by football legend Jonathan Brown, Alpha Zulu has drawn box three, a position that could match his strengths.
Postman Pat: Drawing box four, Postman Pat is poised to make a significant impact.
Schillaci: Trained by Jihad Talgi, Schillaci’s draw in box five presents a chance for an upset.
Wow She’s Fast: The two-time Phoenix winner faces a challenge from box six.
Big Energy: Drawing box seven, Big Energy, the recent Melbourne Cup runner-up, is a serious contender.
Jay Is Jay: From box eight, this Queensland star is an outsider with the potential to surprise.
Jonathan Brown, a three-time premiership hero, has ventured into greyhound racing, co-owning Alpha Zulu. Brown’s excitement is palpable as he chases one of racing’s most significant prizes. His storied football career has transitioned into the adrenaline-filled world of greyhound racing, where the thrill of a potential win is unmatched.
Anthony Azzopardi’s confidence in Pass The Buck is unshaken, thanks to a faultless preparation and the advantageous box one draw. As the youngest and least experienced runner, Pass The Buck mirrors the journey of Wow She’s Fast, who clinched the inaugural race at just 22 months of age. Azzopardi, a veteran with 12 group 1 triumphs, is enthusiastic about his contender’s prospects in this elite field.
In the lead-up to the race, public trials at The Meadows offered a glimpse into the contenders’ form. Jay Is Jay, representing Racing Queensland, and Schillaci, under the guidance of Jihad Talgi, showcased their prowess despite the wet conditions, signalling their readiness for the big night.
As race day approaches, the anticipation among fans and participants is palpable. Jay Is Jay, with career earnings of $1,419,250, could make history by surpassing the $2 million prizemoney mark. Schillaci, an outsider, also has a shot at glory, adding to the race’s unpredictability.
The Phoenix has rapidly become a race that captures the essence of greyhound racing – a blend of speed, strategy, and the thrill of the chase.