By DAVID BRASCH
DES Youngberg was born into greyhound racing, and today as a spritely 83-year-old, he still enjoys churning out an occasional winner to show the youngsters how it should be done.
\”My dad Les always had four dogs in work,\” said Des. \”We lived at Hamilton (Brisbane) in those days and I can remember as a 12-year-old catching the train with dad to take the dogs racing at Kedron.
\”We\’d walk them to the Ascot Station, put them in the guard section, get off at Wavell Heights and walk over to the Kedron straight track.
\”The dogs chased a live hare in those days and a lot of it was handicap racing.
\”Dad and I would slip our dogs at the Royal Queensland Golf Course.\”
In his heyday, Les Youngberg trained dogs for leading jockey Peter Morgan and top horse trainer Kenny Lee.
Des Youngberg was born in 1935. By the time he was 14 he was expected to work and that he did. He spent the next 30 years at the Cannon Hill meatworks.
When the meatworks closed, Des became a painter and docker on the wharf. \”I met some tough guys, but if you did the right thing, you were OK,\” he said with a cheeky grin Des has perfected over his 83 years.
March 1960 signalled Des\’ re-entry into greyhound racing.
\”I knew Paddy McKee at Wynnum an Irishman who was great mates with then local legend Mick O\’Callaghan,\” said Des. \”Paddy had a lot of good dogs and he would send one or two over to me from time to time.\”
Dogs like Drayton Lass, The Swashbuckler, The Voyager all gave Des Youngberg plenty to crow about with the wins they had.
\”It was good racing at that time,\” said Des. \”A real battler’s sport. But, there were some good old trainers about in those days.
\”I learned a lot from guys like Doc Castle and Dave Irwin.
\”Dave gave me a dog called London Charlie and told me to make sure he stayed in fifth grade and I\’d win a lot of races with him.
\”He won 13 fifth grades and one fourth grade. I won a 15-day chiming clock as a trophy with him at Tweed one day and I still have it today.\”
He won the Capalaba Cup with Travelly Lad.
\”I always had three or four in work and a couple of pups being reared somewhere,\” he said.
His mate Johnny Sturgeon did him the best of turns when he gave him a bitch called Petite Stand (Flash Stand-Jacinta Miss).
Des reckons she could gallop and won a few races for him, especially over the 609m at Lawnton. He reckoned she was good enough to breed with.
\”I put her to Harris Tweed, that good dog of Sammy Apap\’s who his son Tony was standing at stud,\” said Des. \”We got a great litter. Gee, could they all gallop.\”
Mintie Stand was joint Ipswich greyhound of the year and Des still gets a tad riled when he thinks about it. \”I sent my wife Mavis and daughter Michelle up to get the joint trophy,\” said Des. \”I reckoned we were robbed. She should have won it outright.\”
But, while Mintie Stand took all the glory winning 25 races, others like Carpet Stand, a Darwin Cup winner, Aussie Stand, and the luckless Rocket Stand were all stars.
\”Rocket Stand was easily the best of them but I took him to the Gabba and he smashed two toes,\” said Des. \”It was during the days when they let the crowd sit on the dog track for cricket matches.
\”Those mugs would bury all sorts of things into the track surface.\”
That grand producing bitch Petite Stand would go on to be the sixth dam of champion Glen Gallon.
\”I\’ve been in dogs for 60 years,\” said Des. \”Never had a champion, but always had a dog worth having.\”
He moved his family to five acres at Jimboomba in 1984.
\”My dad was living in Mackay at the time and he needed to come back to Brisbane,\” said Des. \”He had a few dogs at the time and suggested it was about time I bought a dog property.\”
Les settled into a caravan on the property, he and Des built kennels and dog yards, a 200m straight, and eventually Des and Mavis built their home.
\”It was about this time that old Joh closed down the dock and us Painters and Dockers were out of a job,\” said Des. \”I used to get a few days a week on the wharf but the dogs took up a lot of my time and were all going well.\”
He and Mavis had three children, son Wayne and daughters Sandra and Michelle. Des declares daughter Michelle is his kennel foreman and he could not do without her help with the dogs.
\”I do the walking, and the galloping with the help of Peter Rose,\” said Des. \”But Michelle is always on hand to handle the dogs on race days.\”
Some 16 years ago, Des\’ wife Mavis died and it set him back so much he sold all the dogs he owned at the time.
\”It knocked me rotten,\” admitted Des. \”I had some pups here at the time, out of Jolita. I sold them all and was disappointed to see a big brindle dog go. Byron Miller got him and won 36 races with him around the old Gold Coast track and at Beenleigh.
\”I\’d won a stack of races with Blue Tickets but ended up selling her on to Trevor Salmoni.\”
It was a good few years before Des got himself back into training.
Abby Corsair came along and won nine at Albion Park and Des was ready for a wonderful ride to the top with her.
\”But, she got bitten by a snake and died,\” he said. \”That knocked me around a bit. She had a better run home time than Cyndie\’s Magic.\”
Des would be lost without daughter Michelle, but says Steve Keep does all his break ins and Peter Rose his ‘trackwork’ with him. \”Where would I be without any of them,\” he said.
He reckons there was never a time in those early days of training greyhounds that he could have contemplated a race with a winner\’s purse of $1 million.
\”In the early days of straight racing, we raced for peanuts,\” he said. \”I remember racing at Rocklea when the track was behind the old trotting track.
\”One of the best dogs I ever saw was Lady Allister who would give them eight lengths start in handicaps at Lawnton and still win.
\”Of all the greats I\’ve seen, Pied Rebel was as good as there was.\”
Des says his training methods have hardly changed from the old days to today.
\”There are more things like vitamins and the like, but I\’ve only ever galloped my dogs once up the straight between races and they are still winning on that,\” he said.
He reckons there are many great people in greyhound racing, but ‘a lot of them can get very jealous’.
His one aim in life is that he wants to get a dog to race at the new track planned for Yamanto.
\”I don\’t know if that track will ever happen, but if it does, and I get to start one there, then that will see me out.\”
Des is still winning races today with the couple of Dashing Corsair bitches he has in the kennel. He\’s as fit as a fiddle after walking his dogs for 45 minutes every morning of his life.
\”I enjoy it,\” said Des … no, not so much the walking, but certainly the greyhound racing.