Tasmania and Beyond

29 Dec

Sorry to all that I haven’t posted in awhile, 2015 I hope to change that, but as many who write know finding inspiration and mindset to do so becomes complicated when things are not going the way you want them too.

Having been poached or recruited in  what at the time seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand my career I packed up and flew to Hobart, Tasmania. The kennels were located in New Norfolk, there were a total of 16 kennels and 5 dogs ready and waiting for my expertise. I brought with me 3 dogs of my own so I  had 8 ready to go runners. We had 2 working runs and what is still at this stage one of the best straight tracks I have used  at my disposal. One of the dogs already located there was a well performed dog in Free For All company who was a brilliant beginner but struggled to run out a strong 457metre race. He also had a litter brother there who was struggling in any race. After a 2 weeks of strong conditioning work including being slipped up the straight every 2nd day under his own steam. That meaning handslipping without chasing the a lure, just somebody up the other end calling him up and waving a plastic bag, I entered him in a race he was eligible for which just happened to be the Easter Cup over the 457m distance at the Hobart showgrounds.

I was eager on race day to get the daily paper to see read the comments about him. He was  given no hope against what were Tassies best dogs at the time. Every one had an opinion and they were all similar, my dog had no chance, wasn’t strong enough at the end to win. So off to the start we go, I was as nervous as I had ever been placing a dog into the boxes. The last time I placed a dog into these boxes was the best dog i’d ever handled, Bomber Gleeson and that was in the final of the Group 1 Hobart Thousand which he won.

So Sonic Silver was placed into his box, the lure started rolling and I started shaking, lids up and Silver pinged the lids and led by 5 lengths around the bend and turning into the straight  he was still leading by the same distance and I like everyone else was waiting for him to stop, of course this was a fairytale beginning and Ol’ Silver kept going to win the race at the juicy odds of 50/1. Wow just Wow was all I could say. Perfect start. Silver won a couple of more races for me and his brother sonic Special joined the party on another occasion giving me my first double.

I was offered a couple of dogs including a hurdler, now are they fun to have around, although this one was a nightmare, I set the galloping runs at home up with construction orange bunding about a foot high and every time the hurdler worked he jumped over these little hurdles. He was a natural, so anyway off to Hobart trials we go with a warning that he tries to jump everything to keep following the lure as he knew it stopped in the back straight. I let a friend box the dog as I wanted to see what he did in the catching pen for myself to make sure he didn’t escape and become a nuisance of himself . It was a four dog hurdle trial and he began well and powered away for an easy trial win, as the lure pulled away and the dogs were entering the catching pen this boy hadn’t eased up one bit, into the pen fell speed, with everyone waving their arms and yelling for him to stop he put in an almighty leap and cleared the catching pen gate and proceeded to follow the lure to where it stops up the back straight.

A moment I’ll never forget and the excitement as I ran up to collect him was soon tempered as he was standing at the lure with his leg in the air, with his almighty  leap over the catching pen gate he must of landed awkwardly and unfortunately had a broken wrist. So a hurdle winner he was not to be nor me as a trainer.

After 3 months in Tasmania I had trained 15 winners, unfortunately this was all about to come to an end, the person I was in partnership had been embarrassed by my success and devised an argument to have with me and my anger came to the fore and we decided going separate ways was the only option. I moved down the road to the tiny township of Magra and set up camp there, the facilities were ok but they did’t have the working runs I needed to suit my training style. I battled to keep my charges fit although one dog in particular continued to keep improving, we were good mates Billy and I. Billy was owned by 3 race callers from Melbourne, Ron Hawkswell, David Raphael and Rob Testa. I took him up to Launceston the only track he hadn’t won at in Tasmania and he duly saluted giving me enough cash to board the boat and return home to Melbourne. So ending my Tasmanian sojourn.

After returning to Melbourne I entered Billy in a maiden  coursing event at Lang Lang. He won that also. I knew I could train but had no property to train from that suited my style. I waited a few years and during that time I worked on the city link project at the Tullamarine end of the project. I was leading hand on the crew that placed  all the barriers in the middle of tollway  and at the sides as well. they are all still standing today. A very proud achievement for a greyhound trainer.

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