A Tale of kindness…
Innocent Til become was bred by Tony and Sandra McGrath.
The Shepparton couple are among this country’s most respected greyhound breeders – with Tony being an inductee into Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Hall of Fame for his breeding exploits.
The story goes that for years at family functions a number of relatives who weren’t into greyhound racing kept talking about buying a greyhound from the couple.
All the talk finally came to fruition a couple of years ago when Sandra’s second cousin, Wendy Rooney, celebrated a birthday which led to five different couples within the family pooling their money to buy their first pup.
Some months later, in tragic circumstances, the pup got sick, however the McGraths were good enough to replace him with a younger pup from another litter at no cost.
“I remember going to Sandra and Tony’s to pick out the second pup and my husband Shane was tossing up between two male pups.”
“He asked Sandra for her opinion, and she pointed out the pup she believed was the standout in the litter.”
“Shane said that was good enough for him, and Sandra was right on the money because the pup turned out to be Innocent Til,” Rooney said.
Innocent Til’s trainer Jason Thompson said that was typical of the McGraths.
“To replace the pup was a kind enough gesture in itself, but then to let them have the pick of the litter demonstrates exactly what sort of people Sandra and Tony are,” he said.
“These people are first time owners, and they all live in the Shepparton region, and they are great supporters of the dog.”
There is some clever thinking behind Innocent Til’s name, as the McGraths name all their greyhounds with the ‘Proven’ prefix, including recently retired stars Proven Nitro and Proven Impala.
“We called him Innocent Til because he’s innocent til proven, but he’ll no longer be innocent if he wins the Australian Cup,” Rooney laughed.
Rooney described owning Innocent Til, who has amassed 24 wins from 41 starts and won $119,000 in prize money, as a great bonding experience.
“I’d thoroughly recommend greyhound ownership to anyone. We bought him in the hope that we could all get together as a family and watch him race, and hoped that maybe one day he might even win a race. But to make the Australian Cup is something we never dreamed of.”
We are new to the sport and none of us have been to an Australian Cup, but there’ll be a group of 15 of us there on the night and we’ll all be cheering like mad.”
Among them will be Sandra and Tony, who will be delighted if their hard work and kindness leads to someone else’s joy.