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NRL star eyes North Queensland Cup glory

21 November 2023

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The Taylor kennel and promising dog Phantom Star after a victory at Townsville earlier this year. Pictures: Louise Partland.

By Jordan Gerrans​

Rugby league star Ryan Papenhuyzen has shown plenty of dash in his northern trips to Townsville during his career and a greyhound he part-owns will be aiming to do the same on Tuesday evening in the North Queensland Cup heats.

The Clive Churchill Medal winner of 2020 is in the connections of promising dog Phantom Star who has drawn the inside box for her heat of the rich series.

The brindle bitch is trained out of Darren Taylor’s Rockhampton kennel but she has shown a liking to the Townsville surface.

She is unbeaten in her two northern trips over 498 metres, with a best time of 28.88 seconds.

Papenhuyzen – an exciting fullback for the Melbourne Strom – is known for displaying his dash and pace on the field and the team behind Phantom Star hope she can emulate her high-profile owner.

“She has certainly shown more than we thought she would at this stage,” Taylor’s son Jordan said.

Jordan is running the family’s kennel this week with his father overseas on holidays.

“I cannot fault what she is doing and she seems to be improving,” Jordan continued.

“She is a real professional, everything she does and goes to the track and how she carries herself – she is a professional.”

Phantom Star Next Racing
Say Some Words Next Racing
Jay Is Jay
Tiger Mime

Papenhuyzen got his taste of Central and North Queensland greyhound racing through prominent greyhound owner and breeder George Farrugia.

The bitch was purchased through the National Greyhound Draft at Sandown.

Farrugia met the NRL speedster some time ago and the 25-year-old told him he was keen to get involved in a dog and shortly after Phantom Star was in the works.

“There is about 15-20 people in her, including Ryan,” Farrugia said.

“I keep Ryan up to date with what’s going on and he gets all the messages about the dog, we have spoken about it a few times.

“Ryan said to me that he wanted to get involved in a dog and I think there is some of his family members in this dog, as well.”

Papenhuyzen is entrenched in the code and was an ambassador for Greyhound Racing NSW through the Million Dollar Chase earlier this year, which was won by Queensland star Jay Is Jay.

As well as his rugby league pursuits, Papenhuyzen has long been involved with the greyhound industry.

“I actually had a greyhound race in Townsville [on Tuesday night] race for $2,500,” Papenhuyzen was quoted as saying earlier this year at the launch of the MDC series.

Darren Taylor after claiming the Country Cup Final with Say Some Words earlier this year.

“I’ve loved greyhound racing for a long time. I had my 18th birthday at Wenty (Wentworth) Park.

“Ever since then we got a group of six of us together and we all have just been owning greyhounds since then and we all try to get to the track whenever we can.”

Papenhuyzen is not listed as the greyhound’s owner with Farrugia running the syndicate.

That has not stopped the Taylor clan spreading the news about their star owner.

“I spruik it a little bit and take some pride in it,” Jordan Taylor said.

“It is as much of a ride for Ryan and his family with the dog as we are having.”

From a Kinloch Brae and Phantom Mime litter, Phantom Star has started her career in promising fashion.

On top of her two victories already recorded at Townsville, she has won five other races and been placed on another five occasions.

She has only finished outside of the money on three occasions in her 17 career starts.

“She has been good for us so far,” Farrugia said.

“She has been competitive. She is the star of the litter and hopefully she can go alright on Tuesday.”



Townsville | Townsville Greyhound Racing Club | 8:24 PM

North Queensland Cup H

Promising dog Phantom Star running to victory at Townsville earlier this year. Pictures: Louise Partland.

Phantom Star has a litter brother also racing in Central Queensland who is yet to break his maiden status in nine attempts.

Phantom Star will begin from the one box on Tuesday evening in a heat of the Listed North Queensland Cup.

The annual NQ Cup is a key event on the northern greyhound calendar.

It starts with four heats on Tuesday from Townsville’s Showgrounds track before the Final seven days later.

The $24,000 Final is restricted to dogs based further north than Gympie.

For the northern kennels at Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Townsville, the NQ Cup is a key race for the locals.

Phantom Star is yet to win from three attempts from the red alley but she has placed on two occasions so far.

“We are not really happy with the draw for Tuesday, hopefully she can get out and stay out of trouble because she does like to use a bit of the track, which is not going to be ideal from the one,” Farrugia said.

The Taylor kennel also have Say Some Words in the heats of the NQ Cup on Tuesday. 

The Listed North Queensland Cup was won by Ken Boody’s Zip Stream last year. 



Rockhampton | Rockhampton Greyhound Racing Club | 9:24 PM