Swift Fantasy passes away aged 15

Superstar stayer Swift Fantasy peacefully passed away last week, age 15 years.

Swift Fantasy developed an international cult following when delivering her characteristic potent last-to-first finishing bursts during her staying assignments.

Lady (kennel name) turned into a marketing dream machine for New Zealand greyhound racing, frequently penetrating mainstream media who highlighted her phenomenal staying performances.

Let’s go back to February 2010, when Swift Fantasy (Premier Fantasy-Swift Flyer) first entered the then Albany-based kennels operated by the late Steve Clark and partner Kathy Wilson.

She had been sent across the Tasman by Melbourne owner Seamus Sutcliffe as a one-race winner (669m) after five-Victorian staying races. Clark quietly nursed her along, at times perplexed by her lack of early pace.

It was in April 2010 when Clark boldly targeted the Group 2 Wanganui Distance heats (755m) at Hatrick Raceway for her Kiwi race debut.

Swift Fantasy delivered what was to become her trademark racing style. She settled last, remaining there until the halfway point, from where she powerfully extended to blaze home, stylishly leading home a field of proven, hardened stayers.

Lady returned the following Friday, producing such an astounding performance that even today has followers checking out the YouTube footage of her performance (click HERE to view it). The race commentary delivered by Brian Martin was pure gold, when he called Swift Fantasy home from a hopelessly (it appeared) tailed off position!   

“Even though I knew she would drop out, I didn’t expect to see her tailing the field by that much. I just couldn’t believe what I was watching when she unwound. It’s fair to say that I was gobsmacked by that effort,” said Clark at the time.

The 2010 edition of the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar followed for Lady. The sensational stayer rewrote the definition of staying racing by comprehensively outstaying a quality field of stayers in wet, slushy conditions over 779m at the Manukau Stadium.

With a lap of the dead track to race, Swift Fantasy began to inch forward, making contact with the back end of the field going down the back straight on the second occasion, from where she commenced her renowned sustained finishing burst.

It was like Swift Fantasy simply flicked on the turbo chargers, such was the great rate of knots she started to weave her way through and past her rivals. In fact, she was travelling so swiftly, her biggest danger at that point was her cannoning into the back end of a tiring runner.

Swift Fantasy ranged up to the pacemakers when swinging for home, slipping past them with consummate ease, to dash clear for her convincing five and a quarter length victory.

Sustained cheering changed to spontaneous applause from the crowd throughout Manukau Stadium when Lady completed her remarkable victory, with commentator Peter Earley calling, “It’s not a dream – it’s a fantasy – it’s a Swift Fantasy!”

“This is a dream come true. I was very emotional when I realized she had won the Silver Collar. This win is the crowning moment for me in greyhound racing – there is no other race on the national calendar I have desired to win as much,” an emotional Clark stated afterwards.

The momentum continued with the one-off staging of the four-dog, winner-take-all $20,000 Top Dog match race challenge at Manukau Stadium. Included was the top Victorian stayer at the time, Nellie Noodles, who was prepared by leading conditioner Robert Britton. Rounding out the field was the Group 1 winning pair Rasmah (Ben Craik) and Bonnie Bouchea (Angela Turnwald).

A huge roar erupted from within the Manukau stand when the starter released the four stayers from the 779m traps, which saw Swift Fantasy occupying her usual tailed off position. And again, at the business end of the event, Swift Fantasy loomed, and with a wing on each paw, she just blazed on past her rivals during the run home to the approval of the packed crowd. Swift Fantasy had yet again tormented her opposition!

“This win has capped the most amazing few weeks of my life,” commented Clark following the promotion. “Swift Fantasy is the most amazing greyhound I have ever been involved with. But what is even more exciting has been the sensational following she has quickly developed, and with it, immense exposure for the greyhound code.”

That exposure had seen the formation of the ‘Swift Fantasy Fan Club’, instigated and led by local industry participants Dion Walker and Lavinia Herbert, along with Steve Clark and Kathy Wilson, with Swift Fantasy-printed banners and flags becoming a common sight at post race podiums.   

“The fan club was formed in recognition of the achievements that Swift Fantasy delivered for greyhound racing. She rightfully deserved all the accolades she received. Lady was an absolutely freakish greyhound,” advised Walker.

“Steve and I used to travel frequently with her and others from his kennel. When we stopped to walk the dogs, general public approached us to talk about greyhounds. They would then mention Swift Fantasy, to which we would say ‘this is her’. Straight away, out came the cameras,” recalled Walker.

The Swift Fantasy ‘road show’ continued for another two-seasons, which included wins in the 2011 New Zealand Stayers Cup (Addington 732m) and the 2011 Wanganui Stayers Final (Hatrick 755m). She also completed the Silver Collar full set, with a second in 2011 and third in what was her final race in the 2012 final.

Swift Fantasy retired with a rousing send-off by a Kapa Haka party at Manukau as the winner of 14 races and 13-time minor placegetter, resulting in $152,156 in stake earnings from her 36 raceday outings. Remarkably, all of her New Zealand career races were over race distances 732m and further!

Swift Fantasy whelped two-litters, and after that, she had a permanent place on Steve Clark’s couch (and bed). Following Steve’s passing, Steve and Sean Codlin provided Lady with a life of continued contented luxury.

Swift Fantasy was afforded the ultimate accolade when she was deservedly inducted into the New Zealand Greyhound Hall of Fame during the 2021 Silver Collar meeting.

Undoubtedly, Swift Fantasy and Steve Clark have since been reunited at that big greyhound track in the sky!    


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 20 July 2022

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