Denise leaves behind a proud Tassie legacy

\"\"Caption: Denise Fysh and her partner Laurie Hills with 2010 HGRC Easter Cup winner Perfect Socks

 

By Brennan Ryan

Without a doubt Denise Fysh has left a lasting legacy within Tasmanian greyhound racing.

It is hard to believe that Denise passed well over 12 months ago following a short battle with cancer.

The Hobart Greyhound Racing Club are set to proudly honour the great advocate of their club on Ladbrokes Hobart Thousand Final night with the Denise Fysh Memorial over 461 metres.

Now in its second year, the ‘best nominated’ race, is a best eight event for grade 5 class greyhounds.

Denise was a passionate lover of the long tails and a strong voice for the greyhound code at large.

She stood proudly on the HGRC board for 13 years, elected to the club committee in 2005 before becoming chairman in 2006.

Many would say she was the backbone of the club.

Denise faced major challenges when she took over as club chairman – firstly the task of moving the Hobart greyhound club from the Showgrounds across the road to Elwick Park combining with the harness and thoroughbreds.

With that job undertaken, the first meeting, under Denise’s control, was held on the new track in November of that same year (2006).

There was plenty of criticism from within the local racing industry in those early days, but a few  weeks later the HGRC held its first Hobart Thousand at the new venue, which was a fantastic success.

The critics fell silent.

Among her many achievements, obtaining Group 1 status for the Hobart Thousand, was something Denise was especially proud of.

She worked hard in supporting the establishment of the Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame in 2007. It is now an annual showpiece of the Hobart Thousand Dinner, held each year in December.

Denise was also a rather skilled trainer on the Apple Isle, producing 137 winners from 707 runners.

Nimble Miss (x Star Title) won 15 races including a victory in the 2002 Easter Cup, won at Hobart.

She also trained Main Drive (18), Perfect Socks (13) and King Castle (13). They were all top class chasers.

HGRC vice chairman and owners and trainers boss Graeme Barber outlined his memories of Denise.

“I got to know Denise in the early 2000s when racing was conducted at the Showgrounds track. In those early days she was the main support of her partner Laurie Hills with training, leading and catching dogs at races and trials. Denise and Laurie had great training success with their dogs,” Graeme said.

“Denise had a great passion for racing and her vision for the future saw her elected chairman in 2006.

“You might note that I called the title chairman. In this age of political correctness it perhaps should be Chairperson or in her case Chairwoman, but no, Denise insisted that she was Chairman of the club.

Hosting the National Championships in 2012 was a great success, not only for the Hobart club but for Tassie.

“In 2012 Denise was extremely instrumental in bringing the Nationals series to Hobart,” Graeme added.

That event not only showcased Hobart, but also Tasmania to the rest of the country and claimed extensive overseas coverage. Betting turnovers were at an all-time high and trainers and administrators heaped praise on the committee for such a wonderful greyhound showcase event.

The attraction of Australia’s best stayer Miata racing at Hobart was a great local advertisement.

A role of club chairman is never an easy role, however Denise championed all aspects and worked tirelessly through many unpaid hours to assure the HGRC could remain financially strong.

There were times Denise had to make tough decisions to ensure the club’s future.

Denise’s qualities as leader in the Tassie greyhound industry showed a person with a fierce determination, good listening skills, persuasive debater, compassion and understanding to all.

Friend and now HGRC Chairman Steve Lockley declared Denise an icon of the Hobart club.

“Denise was renowned for her passion and determination for the greyhound industry,” he said.

“Along with Michelle Collis, as her assistant, Denise worked to get new people on board the committee. After her passing both the HGRC and Greyhound Clubs Australia now have the Denise Fysh Award in place to honour those who devote themselves above and beyond for the industry.

“It was fitting at the Hobart Thousand dinner last year that Michelle (Collis) received the inaugural award for her great efforts after Denise passed.

“I personally hope as chairman that Denise’s contribution will always be remembered and honoured.

The greyhound industry will never forget Denise. She will forever hold a special place in Tassie racing.

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