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Stella memories of Magistrate's Origin triumph

7 June 2024

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Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 9:13 PM

TAB Origin Greyhound Series Sprint (G3) F

By Jordan Gerrans

This time last year, Magistrate was a Queensland Origin bolter who quickly turned himself into a sprint hero in the popular series.

As the calendar turns to the 2024 blockbuster Origin Greyhound Series, Greg Stella’s star is back in the squad again as a much more seasoned race dog aiming to defend his crown under the bright lights at Albion Park.

In the Queensland team released on Friday morning, defending champion Magistrate headlines the sprint team for the locals alongside All Natural and Cluster (trained by Selena Zammit) and Bear’s Bullet (Travis Elson).

In the all-important sprint leg of the 2023 series, the son of Fernando Bale memorably scored in 29.96 seconds to help the Maroons lift the Origin title once again.

Back then as an up-and-coming greyhound, Magistrate finished third in the age-respected Group 2 Flying Amy Final before backing up to make his Origin debut against the elite level seven days' later. 

Following his magical Origin victory, Stella’s kennel star has qualified for a handful of Group Finals without again breaking through at the level.

The Origin Sprint crown remains his greatest victory.

“If we go back one year, he was coming through the Flying Amy series,” the Park Ridge trainer said.

“We were sort of surprised we got in the series at that stage, it was just how things panned out that he was going well.

“I think he was the last call-up, the fourth dog in the series, and he came up with the red box and he got the job done – it was amazing.

Magistrate after the Origin victory last year.

“He has been in the top grade for nearly the last 12 months now, racing the best dogs and he has been very competitive.

“I think he is going as well as he has ever gone, it is just that he is racing at the top level all the time, running against the likes of Jay Is Jay, All Natural and the rest.

“We were hoping he would be selected again this year and I am happy with where the dog is it.”

Palawa King claimed the distance race for the interstate raiders last year in the opening event before Magistrate levelled up the series and reigning Queensland Greyhound of the Year Jay Is Jay brought it home for Queensland in the match-race. 

Magistrate – who was a Greyhound of the Year finalist - is raced by long-time owner and breeder Donna Darcy and partner Vince Mackenzie-Ross.

They do not often travel north from their Ballina home for big races fearing they might become a “jinx” for the result.

But, they were on track to celebrate the Origin series triumph in 2023.

“The whole family was there,” Darcy said.

“It was exciting for the whole family.



Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 7:19 PM

SKY RACING Brisbane Cup Prelude F

“We do not go to the track often and we do not like to put the mock on and go for the Final night’s. He went so well, indeed.”

In recent years Darcy and Mackenzie-Ross have moved from Brisbane to retirement in Northern NSW, at Ballina.

Despite their home address these days, they still support the state that is north of the border and are glad to see Magistrate selected once again.

“We are proud of him,” Darcy said.

“We were hoping he would make the squad again and I think he deserves to be in there.”

Magistrate has ticked past three years of age and while he is a much more experienced dog for the Origin series of 2024, Stella believes he is still racing as well as he ever has.

The black dog won a Brisbane Cup Prelude late last month in 30.03 seconds and finished second in another Prelude on Thursday evening.

The locals are aiming to retain the Origin crown for a third straight year next Thursday night and the astute dog man says there is always pride on the line in the series.

“There is a bit of rivalry there with the NSW trainers but it is a friendly rivalry,” Stella said.

“It is a great concept, that is for sure.

Cluster will be a key runner for Queensland.

“Obviously the NSW dogs are here in force but we are on our home track. It is a great concept to be a part of and to watch.

“Some of the NSW dogs have experience racing here of late.”

Albion Park track record holder Jay Is Jay will make his much-anticipated return to the track in the match race as he aims to defend his crown.

In the distance event, Queensland will be represented by Fast Milkman and First Picked (Tim Britton), Mystical Beck (Karen Kleinhans) and champion stayer Valpolicella (Tony Zammit).

Sandra Hunt’s Kahlo Hayze will be the reserve runner for the sprint and match races while Kushti Bok from the John McCarthy kennel is the staying reserve.

The Group 3 Origin sprint and distance will again be run for $150,000 each, while the Listed 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.

Jay Is Jay
Mystical Beck