LONG-time greyhound breeder Noel Mugavin says the chance to have a runner in the Million Dollar Chase will "give people in the family a bit to smile about" after an emotional period.
The retired schoolteacher's late sister Mary Mugavin-Brown, who died earlier this month aged 62, had a long association with the greyhound racing industry.
Mugavin and two of his sons - Jeremy and Jamie - will fly to Sydney to watch the final of the world's richest greyhound race at Wentworth Park after McInerney won its semi-final to advance.
"I think Mary's probably had a bit to do with it," Mugavin said of the dog's success.
"She was a mad greyhound person, so I think she looked down on Friday night and gave the dog an extra kick along.
"She would text me whenever it ran and always wish you the best, always."
Mugavin, 66, said McInerney - trained in Geelong by Brendan Pursell - was also named after someone special.
"Tony McInerney was a really loved administrator at University Blues Football Club in Melbourne," he said.
"That is where my boys played. He passed away in COVID (times) which was an extremely sad time.
"I said to a few people at the club 'if I have a dog that has a little bit of ability, I'll name it after Tony McInerney'.
"His kennel name is Tony and his race name is McInerney."
The Mugavin family has had a long association with the greyhound racing industry.
Mugavin said it was a thrill to watch a dog race at a high level but also gets "enjoyment out of just seeing them race and try hard".
"It's come out in the breed for a long time - the desire to chase hard, they are good chasers and beautiful natured dogs," he said.
As for the Million Dollar Chase - a 520-metre race with eight contenders and two reserves - Mugavin has one objective.
"They are all good dogs. It's drawn box one which is a good box but my expectations are to enjoy the night," he said.
"We are so proud of the dog and so proud of what he's achieved so far, it's been enormous.
"It vindicates what you do in the backyard with your breeding when you can have a dog in that sort of race against the best dogs in Australia."
Mugavin said McInerney came from a strong line of competitors.
"His breeding, the female line goes back 50 years, back to when my father (Kevin) originally had pups," he said.
"It is quite amazing, the longevity of that line, and it's produced some top dogs over that period.
"A dog like Golden Currency was trained by my brother Kevin (Junior) and he was a sensational dog.
"Kevin had a lot of group one dogs and Mary herself had one of the best of the lot you'd say, Modern Assassin."
The Million Dollar Chase is the last race on Saturday's program and will be run at 10.30pm.