Photo: Box 1 Photography
By MIKE HILL
JEDDA Cutlack knows she’s been lucky.
Very few young greyhound trainers have achieved what she has in such a short time.
Cutlack has only been in the industry just over four years and training for two, but already her triumphs are mounting.
And she knows she owes most of her success to leading south-east Queensland dog man Tommy Tzouvelis.
“I’m so lucky to be working with Tom full-time,” Jedda said after being honoured by the industry early last month.
Following an exceptional 2021 season, in which she led in 28 winners, including her first Group success – and with prizemoney touching $161,900 and a winning strike rate at 25 per cent – she was named the Young Achiever of the Year at the annual Queensland Greyhound Awards evening.
“I’m over the moon to be given the award,” Cutlack said after the presentation. “It means a lot to me. It’s a wonderful honour and, yes, it will help.
“It’s great to come out of a hard year and see the dogs do so well and be recognised.
“It proves I’m doing well and it’s good to have my name out there.
“Although I’ve had success on the track, for me personally, it was a tough year, particularly adjusting to the extra work-load.”
She admits she doesn’t want the success of last year to be a one-off.
“I want to keep building on it,” Jedda said.
And she’s doing just that.
Already she has bettered last year’s stats in just the first four months of 2022.
At the time of Chase going to print, Cutlack had trained 34 winners (at Albion Park, Wentworth Park, Ipswich, Maitland and Capalaba) so far this year with prizemoney topping $206,000 and a winning strike rate of 26 per cent.
She is also running third in the Ipswich female trainers premiership behind luminaries Paula Byers and Serena Lawrance. (The women dominate their male training counterparts at the club.)
Cutlack said one of her goals had been to eventually train professionally, but she never expected it to come so quickly.
“Early on I thought I’d have a few dogs and slowly build up my team over time,” she said. “I was prepared to combine work with training.
“But to be in a position of being a full-time trainer so early … I’m just so lucky.”
The enthusiastic and dedicated 26-year-old first saw a greyhound when she started her first shift working at the Albion Park club about five years ago.
“I was after some casual work at the time and the opportunity to work at the greyhounds arose and I really haven’t turned back,” she said in an interview late last year.
“When I was 20 I was working in a financial planning office and here I am a few years on immersed in greyhounds.”
After working at Albion Park for two years and developing an appreciation for greyhound racing and the people in it, Cutlack decided to increase her involvement in the sport.
In stepped Tom Tzouvelis.
“I was looking for more industry experience and that’s when the opportunity to work for Tom came along,” Cutlack said.
Moving into Tzouvelis’s property with her partner and training full-time at the Park Ridge base was a huge step for the young trainer to take.
“I know I was jumping in the deep end,” she said. “It’s been a major adjustment in itself, but it’s been rewarding although stressful at times.
“Having more dogs in my name has meant more responsibility and last year I reduced my hours at Albion Park before stopping work there completely.”
Cutlack’s waking hours are now devoted to the dogs and her career.
“I’m prepared to stick around as long as Tom will have me,” she said.
“We have 10 dogs in work and six in the pre-training stage. I’m just trying to focus on getting everything done … to keep the success going.
“I’m doing the hard yards and I’m fully invested in the operation. I know you can’t expect to be in Group finals all the time. There’s always the highs and lows in this sport.
“I’m just concentrating on keeping the strike rate up, being consistent and having a stable team of dogs. I feel I have more control over those aspects of racing.”
The kennel boasts a group of exceptional ‘home-grown’ sprinters, including multi-Group finalist Mitchell Street and Group winner Tungsten Miss, while the talented Sonia Davis-owned Showdown continues to standout in FFA class.
“We’re lucky, we have a strong team at the moment,” she said.
Jedda said her training methods had been influenced somewhat by Tzouvelis, but she had her own way of doing things.
“I’m lucky to have benefited from Tom’s knowledge but I’ve got my own systems and they seem to be working,” she said.
Jedda said she was also thankful for the help she receives from Kerri Harkness, who assists with the dogs a couple of days each week.
“It makes my job a lot easier,” she said.