After 30 years breeding and racing greyhounds, John Hughes recognised something special when he saw it in Palawa King.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
Now the two-and-a-half year-old has won the $85,000 Group 1 National Distance Championship Final in a thriller.
It's quite a road trip from Forbes to The Meadows and trainer Raymond Smith made it three times in as many weeks to ensure the stayer was as well prepared for the final as possible.
Palawa King, whose recent successes also include the Queensland Cup, was a wildcard entry but Smith made the trip to start him in a couple of 600m races at The Meadows.
Neither trainer nor owner could have asked for more from the dog in response: although baulked badly mid-race Palawa King stretched out and led the field home.
"I never gave up on him coz I know he's got a big motor in him, he just keeps coming and coming," Hughes, who watched from home, said. "It was quite thrilling actually."
Hughes had high hopes for this pup from the start: one of only two in that litter, by Smith's famed Feral Franky and out of Maximum Dos.
"I just always liked the way he got about the place at home," Hughes said.
He started training the pup and gave him a couple of trials at 13 months, before pulling him back for a spell.
When he let him on track again at 16 months old the King was trialling such quick times that his owner made the decision to send him to Irinka Kennels to train with Smith.
"I said, I'm not driving all over Australia with you, mate," he laughs now.
"I never imagined within 13 months time he'd have $530,000 in the bank I must tell you.
"He's by far the best dog I've had. I've had plenty of fair dogs and plenty of winners but these ones only come along once in a lifetime I should imagine unless you're very, very lucky.
"It's a life-changer I tell you."
Palawa King's success could not have come at a better time for many reasons.
The Hughes' home and property were among those devastated by the November 2022 floods, and the clean up and rebuild has been immense.
"He was shining light for sure and certain," Hughes said.
Smith thought the dog might have missed his chance with his mid-race issues, but he too was thrilled to see him overtake the leaders on the run home.
"When you've got a dog like Palawa King and you've got owners like John and Wendy, you just want to do it - you just want to do it for them and the dog, he deserves it, to go around in these races," Smith said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.