Dennis Barnes hopes this trip to Newcastle for a big race won't be as agonising as the last one.
Dennis and his wife Ann have one of the favourites, Nangar Lucy, for Friday, September 22's Group 2 Sires On Ice Black Top, and while he admits the last feature race visit was "just a part of racing", it's difficult to forget an excruciating three minutes.
Dennis and Ann's dog Nangar Rocket had led the field in the Ladbrokes 715 - the world's richest distance race worth $500,000 to the winner - from box rise, but right on the line, Zipping Orlando lunged, and it was desperately close. For three long minutes no decision on a winner was made.
"It seemed like an hour," Dennis said. "I had the worst view. I was standing at the start of the catching pen, and I was looking at them coming down the straight at me. I thought: 'oh, he's won', and I was jumping around going on like an idiot until someone behind me said they thought the other dog might have got us.
From day one, she showed ability breaking in.- Dennis Barnes
"The longer it went, the more I thought it would have to be at least a dead heat."
Alas, if the race had been called The 714 and run over that distance instead, then Dennis and Ann would be $500,000 richer. It wasn't, and the smallest margin went the way of Zipping Orlando.
"It obviously deflated me, but that's racing, and you just move on," he said. "We still won $50,000 for finishing second, and that's more than many big races are worth. And like I said, we moved on pretty quickly."
Soon the disappointment of The 715 turned into jubilation when his young bitch Nangar Lucy won the Peter Mosman Opal at Wentworth Park. Amazingly, this was the first Group 1 Dennis had won after more than four decades in the sport.
"We have been in a few Group 1 finals and run second a few times, but that was our first win. So she is special. We call her Group 1 Lucy around here now," Dennis said. "From day one, she showed ability breaking in. The clock doesn't lie.
"She's going to have to nail the start again in the final like she did in her heat last Friday, but from box 1, I think she's going to be right there."
But Lucy's Group 1 was not the biggest 'win' Dennis has had on a racetrack. That came at Wade Park in Orange many years earlier when he met Ann Miller.
"That was fantastic how we met. We both enjoyed the dogs - Ann loves the dogs - and her father and mother (Bill and Peg) were very good dog breeders. They bred and owned and sold a lot of very good dogs over the years, and Bill taught me so much about greyhounds," Dennis explained.
"I know the dogs might be in my name, but Ann is such a big part of this. I wouldn't be able to do it without her, don't worry about that. Family is very important to us, and having our grandkids there at Wentworth Park for Lucy's Group 1 made a special night that little bit more special."
The Black Top will be race 7 at Ladbrokes Gardens on Friday, September 22 at 8.49pm.
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.