$100 pup key to a lifetime passion

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By Gary Clark

Terry Craig was just 18 when he decided to throw caution to the wind and invest in his new hobby – greyhound racing.

It’s a decision that shaped his life for the next four decades.

Now aged 65, Terry, grew up in Sydney’s Drummoyne and although a plumber by trade worked with the inner-city Marrickville council as a teenager before marrying and moving to Glebe.

And this is where an interest in greyhound racing started for Terry, buying a pup for $100 eventually named, Miss Hourde, who was reared at Tony Dukes and gave Terry his first winner at Cessnock.

“I took the dogs to three different vets back then – Bob Ratcliff, Reg Hoskins and Harry Cooper,” Terry recalled. “You couldn’t get a better line up of animal doctors back in the 70s.

“I grew up with the likes of Greg and Jimmy Lee, former jockeys and now both horse trainers along with Pat Webster, I got to know so many people as the years went on.”

As his first marriage dissolved, Terry went with a mate to Coffs Harbour to live and had a break from racing, eventually playing soccer for Sawtell, just south of the banana town.

His father, Jimmy, part-owned the South Grafton hotel and Terry eventually moved to Grafton at the age of 32 after meeting and marrying his second wife.

“I had a really smart dog there, Pamero’s Best, who won his maiden at Bulli by 10 lengths and won 17 races, eight straight at Grafton,” says Terry.

As the racing adrenalin kicked in again, Terry and his family headed back to Sydney and have been at Quakers Hill since 2000.

His son, Joel was only nine at this time, but it didn’t take long before he also got the incentive to race his own greyhound and bought his first dog at the age of 18, but with no success.

Terry had consistent success with his chasers, including Black Fox, who won six races, Two Up Willa, a winner of five and a sister to the smart sprinter, Extra Kinky, winning at Penrith, Nowra and Dapto.

“I was surrounded by some of the best trainers in the business back then, forming close friendships with Jim Price, Jack Irwin, Bruce Edwards and Jim Coleman, going to his wedding,” Terry recalled.

As the father and son relationship grew stronger, both decided to obtain a brood bitch and breed rather than continue to buy pups.

“In 2013 dad and I purchased Allegro Miss (Pure Octane x Diamond Series), an unraced pup, for $2,000,” Joel explained.

Diamond Series was a Brett Lee bitch, who was a very good Tweed Heads sprinter also winning at Albion Park, so the Craigs had invested well.

Her first litter to Spring Gun produced Mrs Spring and she won seven races in her 26 starts at Richmond, Newcastle and Wentworth Park over the 720m.

“The late Gary Brown trained here for us and it was a real shock to the family when he collapsed and died at Richmond a couple of years ago,” Joel said.

“We also had a Collision bitch, Transcendence, who produced Dainty Culprit, who we sold to Darwin and she won 22 races there.”

Last year Terry and Joel raced Just Simple, who won three at Richmond then a staying race at Wentworth Park in 15 starts before they sold her to Perth earlier this year.

The Mrs Spring line has continued with the latest litter to El Grand Senor, producing Bumpy Johnson who won his Richmond maiden at his second start last month. They race the dog also with first-time owners, Luke Della and Michael Torcaso.

The next litter of Allegro Miss by Collision are 16 months old and currently in the early stages of trialling after being educated.

As Terry only has a small backyard, he has decided to channel out the pups to a number of trainers including the Hindmarshs at Grafton, who have been a regular breaking in complex for the Craigs and Luke Brown, the son of Gary.

The male bloodline of the Craig family runs strong with son Joel also a plumber by trade and a talented soccer player.

At the age of 12 he was selected in the indoor Australian side. Then he represented Australia at 16 and went overseas, gaining the chance to train for a week with both AC Millan and Juventus.

There were a handful of future Aussie stars in that under 16 team including Australian goalkeeper Matt Ryan and A-League player Mitchell Duke.

“For some reason Joel decided to concentrate on his career as a plumber and not progress with his soccer,” Terry explained.

Joel won a premiership at the age of 25 in 2015 with the MacArthur Rams so he has some silverware to show for his soccer skills.

His engagement to fiancé, Samantha was to result in their wedding earlier this year but due to the Covid-19 that has been postponed to April next year.

Terry says his son is one of the luckiest people he knows.

Together they are etching a successful greyhound partnership, living by the tried and true adage – the harder you work the luckier you get.

(Photo: Lachlan Naidu of Redden Photo Video)

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