Lismore Cup victory provided silverware, memories
Group 2 Lismore Cup (520m)
Heats October 19. Final October 26
$40,000 to the winner
By David Brasch
THREE years ago Denise McArdle moved to Blackall in Central Western Queensland almost 1000km from Brisbane.
She went there to join her sister Rhonda and be close to their Mum Nell.
It had been a long journey for Denise, shifting first from the Gold Coast to near Albury back in her home state of Victoria and then on to Blackall.
In the meantime she lost her husband Maurie to prostate cancer. He was 79.
But, her move to Blackall was also to be able to bring home a black greyhound known best to racegoers as Duffy, winner of the 2011 Group 2 Lismore Gold Cup.
While Denise was shifting home, Duffy had taken pride of place with friends Brian and Joanne Smith at The Rock, near Wagga.
“He was a beautiful, beautiful animal,” Denise said.
“WAS” is the word. Duffy died from cancer a year ago but every single day since then Denise has golden memories of the Lismore Cup victory she and Maurie savoured like no other. It was their crowning glory in many, many decades of greyhound racing.
Maurie had trained greyhounds since he was 16.
“To win that Cup with Duffy was the most exciting thing that ever happened to us,” Denise said. The massive Cup trophy, presentation rug and pictorial evidence of the victory hold pride of place at Blackall.
Today, Denise can hark back to a Cup victory that almost wasn’t.
“Maurie and I were on our way to the track from our home at the Gold Coast,” she said. “Car trouble hit us and Maurie was almost going to ring the track and scratch him.
“I talked him into pulling into the McCalmans’ home near Murwillumbah. Maurie went to Lismore with them and the dog, I turned around and took the car back home and got the motorhome with the dog trailer on the back.”
Duffy ran second in the heat to Bogie Beltah, went back the next week and grabbed Daryl Schafer’s star bitch Aretha Trick on the line to win in a photo.
Ever the punter looking for a sure return on his money, Maurie could see Duffy making his run at Aretha Trick on the home turn. He turned to Daryl standing next to him and said “save $5000 with you”.
Daryl, whose bitch was clear, said “no mate”.
It’s history that Duffy got up right on the line to win.
“We were just so excited to be in the final,” Denise said recently as she harked back to those heady days.
“I was in the catching pen and couldn’t tell if he’d won or not, but everyone there was saying he did. I was on my knees bawling.”
Maurie and Denise were taking no chances on final night.
“We took the motorhome with us to Lismore and when he won, we celebrated and eventually stayed overnight at the track,” she said.
It was their biggest victory in many decades of chasing feature races, eclipsing a win in the Darwin Cup and Cairns Cup with Wild Chaos.
Maurie never missed a Darwin Cup meeting and when he died Denise reckoned she would head there for the carnival and sponsor a race in his honour.
“But, then Covid hit and I couldn’t get there,” she said. “I made the trip this year but by that time it was too late to start looking at a memorial for Maurie three-and-a-half years after he died.”
Denise said she has lost con tact with greyhound racing these days except for that giant trophy, the rug and pictures of the Lismore Gold Cup victory she still treasures in her now Blackall home.
She remembered Duffy as being “so special”.
“He was no superstar but he was fair dinkum and did his best forever,” she said. “He was very special for Maurie and me. Maurie lived for greyhounds.
“That win in the Lismore Cup was the most exciting thing to happen to us.”