Fred Basset, one of Australia’s most famous canines, turns 10 today.
In late 2006 the greyhound toured Australia with Hamish & Andy, drawing thousands of fans to the races including a record 6,000 people to watch him race in Perth.
He raced four times in five weeks in Melbourne (8th), Brisbane (1st), Adelaide (1st) and Perth (4th) as Australians flocked to the greyhounds to cheer on the greyhound that was a radio sensation as much for his racing exploits as for his ability to predict the future.
Fred would predict things like who would win the AFL and NRL Grand Finals by eating Chicken McNuggets from a plate.
Fred, who was trained in Geelong by Angela Langton, won a total of eight races before he was retired in 2008, raising $13,000 in prize money for the Royal Children’s Hospital.
These days Fred is one of the many hundreds of ex-racing greyhounds living life as a normal pet throughout Melbourne.
He lives with the Copley family in Bundoora, where he enjoys daily walks and the occasional jog through surrounding parklands.
“Fred is getting on in age but he is still as fit as a fiddle and really enjoying life. He’s a bit greyer than he was in his racing days, but apart from that he is showing no real signs of age,” said owner Andrew Copley.
Copley said the days when Fred was a media megastar is virtually impossible to replicate in terms of exposure for greyhound racing and the greyhound breed.
“The Fred Basset promotion put greyhound racing on the map. The amount of publicity he generated through his association with Hamish & Andy was the sort of exposure money can’t buy.”
“The boys had a 10 minute segment on their radio show every night for about two months, and this was the highest rating radio show in the country at the time.”
“We worked out that the radio exposure was worth about $750,000, and it was all for free,” said Copley, who works for Greyhound Racing Victoria.
The Fred Basset promotion came about when Hamish had a successful $800 bet on Andy to win the Cleo Bachelor of the Year in 2006.
Hamish collected $12,000, and after putting it to the listeners, it was decided that they would buy a greyhound. And so the Fred Basset legend began.