Paul Wheeler Celebration A Highlight Of Egg Night

In the space of four years, the Wheeler family celebrated three Golden Easter Egg victories including Fernando Bale's special triumph in 2015.

Peter Davis

7 April 2022

In the space of four years, the Wheeler family revelled in the glory of three Golden Easter Egg victories – the first in 2011 with Radley Bale then Grigorieva Bale (2013) before superstar Fernando Bale dazzled from box eight in 2015.

On Saturday, the family comes together at Wentworth Park for the first time in racing context to be on hand for the Paul Wheeler Celebration – a race instituted by the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers’ Association to perpetuate the vast influence Paul Wheeler had on the greyhound racing world.

Paul Wheeler died suddenly on October 13 last year and GBOTA Chief Executive Steve Noyce felt this massive night of racing – which includes six finals including two at Group 1 level – was the right time to celebrate Paul Wheeler’s life.

“The Golden Easter Egg was first run in 1990 and has been won by many champions yet Fernando Bale may well be the best of the best,” Noyce said.

“When Paul died, the greyhound racing world was devastated. The Wheeler name – and that of the Bale, Dyna and Allen racing stock – is synonymous with excellence and this night at Wentworth Park was the right time to acknowledge Paul’s remarkable influence in greyhound racing and his breeding decisions.

“We are delighted that many of Paul’s extended family including wife Jan, his sister Lorraine, son Scott and daughter-in-law Lucy – along with their kids – will be at Wenty.”

And it will be the first time Jan Wheeler has returned to Wentworth Park since Paul’s death.

“To be honest, it’s been a real struggle to keep going,” an emotional Jan Wheeler said.

“(son) Brendan and (his wife) Nichole can’t be there on Saturday but just about everyone else will be.

“Paul was the brain and the engine in this business and there’s not been a day when I’ve not struggled to keep going. In the end, it’s because of what Paul established is the only reason we persist.

“He loved his dogs, he loved this place and it was his dream to stay here and continue a ‘job’ which was his passion.

“It’s been just on six months since he left us and we have managed adequately but this place will never be the same – in fact it’s getting harder emotionally and not easier to battle on.”

The Paul Wheeler Celebration will, in due course move away from Golden Easter Egg night in order to find a place in the racing calendar that ensures a genuine presence.

“The decision to add Paul’s race on Easter Egg night was important but moreover, the GBOTA wants this to be an aspirational race for the best bitches in the country. And to do that, it needs to be a stand-alone event,” Noyce added.

In coming weeks, Greyhound Clubs Australia – the convenors of the National Sprint and Distance Championships – will also recognise Paul Wheeler.

“I have made submissions to the GCA Board to rebrand the Australian Brood Bitch of the Year Award to include Paul Wheeler’s name,” GCA Chief Executive Troy Harley said. “That will be ratified at our next Board meeting.”

On Saturday, five of the eight runners in the ‘Celebration’ have Wheeler pedigrees while 59 dogs across the 12 races have a first-or-second generation (in pedigree) Wheeler influence … it’s a remarkable success story which is neigh impossible to match.

The Paul Wheeler Celebration is race four on Saturday’s card and carries $12,000-to-the-winner plus a service to Fernando Bale valued at $8800.