A file photo of Jason Mackay with Zipping Willow in 2013.HUNTER trainer Jason Mackay would ‘‘bet money’’ that his star bitch, Zipping Willow, will start her final race campaign in the Golden Easter Egg heats in two weeks despite receiving an indefinite ban on Friday as part of live-baiting investigations.
Richmond Vale’s Mackay, a Sydney premiership winner and one of the leading trainers in the state, told the Newcastle Herald that Zipping Willow, a nominee for NSW Greyhound of the Year, and Zipping Saxon, which was to contest a heat of the group2 Richmond Derby on Friday night, had been added to a list of 28 dogs banned in NSW.
Greyhound Racing NSW later announced that number had jumped to 37 with the addition of Awesome Project, Zipping Spike, Keybow, Tiggerlong Amigo, Mackay’s pair and three unnamed greyhounds.
‘‘The greyhounds were identified as being at the properties of the trainers suspended by Greyhound Racing Victoria as investigations into the allegations continue,’’ GRNSW said.
Keybow, one of the best dogs in the nation, is owned and was bred by East Maitland’s Kel Lean. Aberglasslyn’s Brad Canty owns Awesome Project and Zipping Spike. All three dogs were trained by Darren McDonald in Victoria.
The news comes after Mackay and prominent owner-breeder Martin Hallinan said 12 as-yet unnamed and unraced dogs from their operation were suspended because they had spent two weeks with banned Londonderry-based breaker Zeke Kadir. The Herald was told they are not officially suspended because they remain unregistered.
Mackay said Zipping Willow and Zipping Saxon had been transferred to the now-suspended McDonald via Kadir’s Wilshire Park property before the live-baiting scandal broke last month.
McDonald and Kadir were central figures in the Four Corners probe into live baiting.
Mackay said Zipping Willow and Zipping Saxon had spent just nine days under the care of McDonald before that trainer was stood down. Both greyhounds, now back with Mackay, were banned in Victoria but then cleared after a threat of legal action from Canty prompted a conditional return for all suspended dogs.
Canty then won a temporary Supreme Court injunction to allow Awesome Project to start the next week at The Meadows. Awesome Project had been stood down after Greyhound Racing Victoria’s introduction of a law banning dogs which were transferred from a suspended trainer to another on the same property.
Canty said on Friday he was focused on overturning the GRV decision before worrying about the situation in NSW.
However, Canty said Hallinan was working with the solicitor he used in Victoria to challenge the GRNSW bans.
Mackay said the decision was an ‘‘absolute joke’’ and he was confident participants would overturn the suspensions.
‘‘Awesome Project and Zipping Willow will be in the heats of the Golden Easter Egg in a couple of weeks. I’d bet money on that,’’ Mackay said.
‘‘It’s absolute chaos and it’s an absolute disgrace.
‘‘They should just put their hands up and say, ‘We don’t know what we are doing.’’’
Mackay said his pair were banned until an inquiry into live baiting is complete, whether that takes ‘‘two weeks or two years’’.
He said Zipping Willow, a winner of 34 races from 52 starts and $190,195 in stakes, was set to retire after the Golden Easter Egg but was also now banned from breeding under the new rules.
The bans follow an ABC story on Thursday in which Mackay confirmed he had sent dogs to Kadir for several years. But he said he had not seen live-baiting at Kadir’s Wilshire Park and denied any knowledge of the illegal practice.
Hallinan told the ABC he could make no guarantees but believed his dogs had not been trained by Kadir using live baits. Mackay denied using live baits but said his property had been the target of two raids and another accusation, none of which had led to evidence of the practice.
A three-time trainer of NSW Greyhound of the Year, Mackay put the accusations down to jealously.
‘‘It’s just what happens when you have a bit of hype around you, you win a few races and have some success,’’ he said.
‘‘All the good-doers come out and try to bring you down.’’
The Four Corners investigation alleged Kadir had boasted that he had worked with ‘‘all the Zipping dogs’’, but Mackay and Hallinan told the ABC they had sent only two litters of Zipping dogs to Wilshire Park.