By GARY WESTON
DURING 2020, I will turn 75 years old and I can tell you all, I have been an owner in greyhound racing since I was 18.
I love it!
My introduction to the industry was while living in Melbourne, where I grew up. I was umpiring an Australian Rules footy final at Ballarat and, after the game, was lured to a friend’s property nearby.
He is Barry Augustine and we have been mates ever since. Barry had bred a couple of litters of greyhound pups and I bought one from each.
The pups were by Armatree Prince and Chief Zephyr. I’d never been to a greyhound race meeting in my life. I’ve been racing greyhounds ever since.
I moved to Singapore until 1979 but kept up my ownership of dogs while overseas and in 1979 came to live in Perth. At one time, I had a farm at Tynong (Gippsland, Victoria) with a trainer living there rearing the pups and preparing the race dogs.
While in Melbourne we won the Victorian Sprint Championship with a dog called Gary Moss.
I’ve also raced dogs successfully in Adelaide with Laurie Carlin.
But, the move to Perth has been a great one especially for our greyhound racing pursuits.
At first I got David Hamer to train our dogs and he was leading trainer for eight or nine years. David never went to the racetrack to watch his dogs race.
But, for the past 30 years, we have become associated with Linda Britton and Chris Halse and the partnership has been wonderful. Great dogs like Reggemite, Zelemar Fever and West On Augie have given us great fun.
My advice to anyone thinking of getting into greyhound racing as an owner like us is that you MUST look to proven damlines and only proven damlines.
That can come via a broodbitch you might want to breed a litter from, or one you want to buy pups from. Once that becomes your target, you must then tie up with a very strong kennel, very reputable people. By doing that, you will give yourself the very best chance of success.
But, newcomers to this industry will need to spend some time getting to know bloodlines. Without that knowledge it will be difficult to make the right choices.
My trainer in Adelaide Laurie Carlin always said to me: “Mario Lanza’s brother could not sing.” So what does breeding matter.
But, I totally disagree with that statement. Breeding always matters in greyhounds, just as it does in thoroughbreds.
I have noticed that proven bloodlines will continue to produce quality greyhounds for at least two generations, and after that it can sometimes dwindle in quality.
While living in Melbourne as a young man, I got to know the great Rod Deakin very well and he had a theory he put into practice whereby he would breed with a 16–month–old bitch that had broken in with exceptional reports.
It was Rod’s view that by breeding years earlier than normal with a good race bitch would help him skip a generation ahead. He proved it time and time again.
These days, chase and strength are all important in the bloodlines you should consider. Chase is self explanatory, but the dogs of today need to have that added strength at the end of their races.
As for selecting the right puppy from a litter, that is an entirely different thing. How often do people go out to look at a litter, spot the most beautiful pup among the group, and it does not turn out the best.
Beautiful does not always mean best!
In the 30 years we have been associated with Linda and Chris, they have become family friends.
These days, our greyhounds pay for themselves. Dogs like West On Augie go a long way to achieving that.
But, we also go 50-50 in all our greyhound endeavours with Linda and Chris. Linda is doing a lot more breeding these days because of the growth of greyhound racing in WA.
Whereas she may have bred only two or three litters a year, that is now up to six or seven.
And, we are also very aware of what long-term future holds for our dogs. Linda is very close to the adoption program. She always seems able to re-home those dogs suited to a life away from racing.
My advice for anyone wanting to get into greyhounds is to get a basic knowledge of bloodlines, then go out and search for the very best damline you can afford or access.
The success of greyhounds, in my opinion, is at least 70 percent down to the quality of the mother and her immediate family.