Go Nads: how racing phenomenon erupted

GREYHOUND RACING

He's been handed keys to a city, chartered limos to get around, led nightly news bulletins and even been the guest of honour at Great Keppel Island's 30th birthday celebrations.

Yep, the greyhound born out of a promotional idea for Channel 9's The Footy Show certainly was no ordinary canine.

On a night when Nads' trainer prepares to return to Dapto for its 75th birthday celebrations, the Mercury tracked down Greg Wynn to recall the hysteria of the late 1990s.

"It's been the No 1 thing for greyhound racing in the last 50 years," Wynn said. "There's never ever been the same publicity for a greyhound."

And it's hard to argue.

Ever since Nads had a winning debut at Dapto in front of a live national television audience in 1996, the greyhound almost instantly earned a cult following.

In partnership with Channel 9, the Dapto Greyhound Racing Club and Nature Vet, Nads' efforts on the track donated more than $250,000 to charities around Australia.

But that was only half the story of a greyhound who was a one-dog travelling roadshow.

Like the time he went to Forbes and was handed the keys to the city at a civic reception - just for racing in the town.

Or the time he helped save a country club from financial ruin, multiplying bar takings by 15 for the day after a rare appearance.

Then he led the nightly news bulletin in far north Queensland after hundreds of people flocked to greet him upon arrival at Cairns Airport.

And there was the time he was invited back to Great Keppel Island to be the special guest for a 30th birthday bash after he made such an impression on a first visit.

It almost wasn't to be, though, if Wynn hadn't been talked out of a case of cold feet at the last minute.

"Before the first night we had to race on The Footy Show I took him down to Dapto and he trialled really bad," Wynn said. "I rang Channel 9 and said, 'This dog can't race on Thursday. He went terrible today and he'll go no good'.

"It couldn't be helped, they'd already done the promo and the dog has to run no matter what."

He won by seven lengths and the Nads phenomenon, with trusty sidekicks Terry Hill and Jack Elsegood on hand, took off.

"Whenever he was running on The Footy Show, that whole week's promotion was about a greyhound," Wynn said. "It's never been heard of. The Footy Show has never rated higher as when Nads was there - I can assure you.

"He even got an appearance of $12,000 to turn up at Bathurst greyhounds. We got them to make the cheque directly to Westmead Children's Hospital."

Wynn no longer trains greyhounds, Nads has gone to the big kennel upstairs and The Footy Show is not what it used to be.

But the memories are still alive and every glorious detail will be stewed over at Dapto.

Said Wynn: "Zoom Top was the best greyhound I've ever seen - she was an absolute champion - but Zoom Top was never known like Nads was known. The greyhound people knew Zoom Top, but the nation knew Nads."

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