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Chasing superstars headline Origin Greyhound Series teams

7 June 2024

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Queensland and New South Wales have unveiled their respective teams ahead of next week’s blockbuster Origin Greyhound Series.

The inter-state rivalry will reignite with the sixth running of the series at Albion Park on Thursday night, June 13, with rugby league legends Ben Hannant and Laurie Daley at the helm.

Looking to retain the Origin crown for a third straight year, the Maroons have announced a strong line up of stars, headlined by reigning Queensland Greyhound of the Year Jay Is Jay and one of the country’s best stayers in Valpolicella.

The Selena Zammit-trained Jay Is Jay is coming off a remarkable 12 months, claiming 15 wins from 26 starts in 2023 – including his superb victory in the Million Dollar Chase.

He also posted a new track record at Albion Park, along with triumphs in the Group 2 Queensland Derby, Group 3 Queensland Flame and helping the Maroons secure the Origin shield in the 2023 Listed Series Match Race.

Meanwhile, Tony Zammit’s distance queen Valpolicella will represent Queensland in the Origin Distance race.

Already boasting a record of 53 starts for 29 wins and 17 placings, the chaser is on track to become Australia's 15th greyhound to reach $1 million in prize money.

She is set to go head-to-head against reigning NSW Greyhound of the Year Palawa King, who took out last year’s Origin Distance race.

Going head-to-head with Jay Is Jay in the Match Race, Mackenna will represent the southerners, who announced herself as one of the most electric chasers in the nation following her Group 1 Golden Easter Egg victory earlier this year.

Former Maroons great Ben Hannant will once again take the coaching reins for Queensland, while Blues legend Laurie Daley will don the NSW coach’s cap.

Hannant said Queensland’s team had him full of confidence that the Sunshine State would retain bragging rights in 2024.

“We saw the Maroons dominate the Blues on the field in Sydney in Game One this week, and I have no doubt we will repeat those efforts on the track at Albion Park next Thursday night,” Hannant said.

“It’s fantastic to see Jay Is Jay back in the team after his stellar efforts in the Origin Match Race to help us claim the series last year, while I’m excited to see what Valpolicella can do in the Origin Distance race.

“While I’m confident Queensland will get the job done over NSW in Melbourne in Game Two, I’m even more convinced we can make it three straight series wins for Queensland at Albion Park next week.”

Blues coach Laurie Daley said there would be some added motivation for the NSW team following the tragic passing of the team’s inaugural coach Terry Hill.

“We all know ‘Tezza’ was a long-time greyhound fan and he loved going up to Queensland every year to take part in this series, and getting amongst the punters on Origin night,” Daley said.

“It's an impossible task to fill his big shoes but I will do my best to honour him with a victory for the Blues next Thursday.

“We have two of Australia’s best chasers in Mackenna and Palawa King headlining the Blues team, and I’m confident we can wrestle back the Origin shield and take it back to where it belongs in New South Wales.”

The Group 3 Origin Sprint and Origin Distance will again be run for $150,000 each, while the Listed Origin two-dog Match Race has a $60,000 purse on offer.

The overall series tally sits at three-two in Queensland’s favour after its introduction in 2018.

The final teams for the Origin Greyhound Series are as follows: