A rough ride, but Board is still on top

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By DAVID BRASCH

MEDIA legend Alan Jones still takes time out to contact Greg Board just to see how he is travelling, but the Christmas cards from Mike Baird and Troy Grant stopped coming a good while ago now.

No, Baird and Grant, the front faces of the bid by the NSW Government to shut down greyhound racing in 2016, would never have contemplated sending Greg Board Christmas cards.

Greg was as outspoken as Alan Jones and radio star Ray Hadley when it came to that precarious time for this industry.

But, when the Orange by-election in November of that year took on gigantic proportions for greyhound racing, Greg Board and Alan Jones became firm friends.

\”Alan came to Orange to take up our fight and I invited him out to our property at Spring Hill and he and I hit it off straight away,\” said Greg. \”It was the first time he had ever been hands on with greyhounds and one look at our set-up and how the dogs looked and were cared for … well, it won him over.

\”When the fight was won, Alan and I have stayed in contact even though my wife Helen and I have since relocated to South Australia.\”

Therein lies the strength of the passion and the bitterness of disappointment for Greg Board. No longer could he stand being in NSW after what had almost happened to a huge, viable and progressive industry.

Greg Board is a tough nut. Born in Bankstown, he spent much of his life around horses by visiting his uncle\’s farm at Moss Vale.

\”My family has a picture of me when I was two years old riding a friesian bull.

It was destiny.

In 1974, Greg Board was Australasian bull riding and bareback champion. Held been selected at 16 in the top 24 cowboys from Australia and New Zealand, the youngest ever, to compete in a special competition.

His brother Rick was saddle bronc champion as well.

It wasn\’t long after that Rick bought a greyhound and Greg soon became wrapped up in the industry as well.

\”Its name was Happy Meteor and it won at Tamworth in one-tenth off the track record,\” said Greg.

A concreter by trade, Greg was lured to Orange in the late 1970s with work on a 260-house estate. He took his family and eventually settled there.

Son Scott bought 10 acres, Greg and Helen bought the 120 acres that surrounded that property.

\”Eventually we established kennels, rearing yards and a 25-acre galloping paddock for pups, a 540 metre straight track with pop-up sprinklers, electric timing and an overhead drag lure system,\” he said.

Stars like Spring Secret and Spring Gun came along and the Board family became entrenched among the leaders of the industry.

That was, until Mike Baird and Troy Grant, and the faceless men behind the scenes in the NSW state government took on a fight that eventually caused their downfall.

Greg Board fought for greyhound racing just as hard behind the scenes as anyone. But it took its toll.

Seven years ago he\’d been found to have throat cancer with a predicted life expectancy of three months if he did not get immediate treatment. He and Helen spent the next three months living out of rented accommodation in Sydney while he underwent radiation and then chemo treatment.

\”I beat it and got another shot at life,\” he said.

That, and the battle to save greyhound racing, made Greg realise he needed to scale down. He and Helen looked to move.

\”I really didn\’t know how the industry was going to go in NSW so we decided to look elsewhere, make a change,\” said Greg. \”It was tough for Helen because all the kids and grandkids were back in NSW.

\”I thought we could go to South Australia and become nobodies.\”

They found a 10-acre property at Murray Bridge. He battled the local council for six months, but finally got a license to house greyhounds. It is just a few kilometres down the road from the lavish new Murray Bridge greyhound complex.

\”We\’ve built a kennel block for 20 dogs, have an eight-acre galloping paddock, a 300 metre straight track, three small pups yards and do all the whelping of the family\’s broodbitches.

\”The pups are then sent back to Scott at Orange to be reared.\”

Rather than become ‘nobodies’, Greg and Helen have won the owner\’s premiership every year they\’ve been in South Australia and been among the top 10 trainers as well.

\”The first year we got here we won the Strathalbyn Cup with Spring Bloom,\” he said. \”Last year we won the trainer\’s premiership.\”

Good dogs have flowed – like Spring Bridge who Jason Thompson declared to be one of the fastest dogs he has ever trained.

\”We\’ve got three litters by him, one from Spring Bloom and another from Over Here who won the Futurity at Albion Park.\”

He admits greyhound racing South Australian-style is ‘different’.

\”It\’s a different grading system for a start, but there are a lot of good things about it. The prizemoney was cut recently and has not been put back up yet, but much of it is equal to tracks like Ballarat and Horsham and the likes.

\”Murray Bridge is a great complex and the relaxed nature of everyone racing at Angle Park has a lot to be said for it.\”

Good dogs in recent times like Spring Vinnie, Spring Fair etc have been good to the kennel. Greg has also been selling a number of dogs to New Zealand.

\”And, Scott and I still send a lot of dogs up to Pauline Byers to race,\” he said. \”We have been leading owners at Ipswich for something like 10 years. But, do you know I only ever met Col Byers once, and I have never met Pauline.

\”Helen and I have been planning to go to Ipswich for the presentation night if we win this year. Spring Rock is 30 points in front for greyhound of the year. We\’d like to do that just to meet up with Pauline and her family.\”

The number of star greyhounds to come from the Board kennel is far too many to list.

\”We\’ve had a lot of luck,\” said Greg. \”We enjoy it here in South Australia and what do you do in life if you don\’t do something you enjoy.\”

Former great Spring Leaf has just been put to Zambora Brockie and Spring Bridge\’s mother has a litter by Collision. Greg also has ‘a very nice pup’ by Fabregas from Sheza Nitro, bred on the same cross as Group star Fabregal.

The future is assured for Greg and Helen.

Just a very short time ago it looked far from the case.

Caption: Greg Board with one of his South Australian success stories – Spring Bridge

 

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