By MIKE HILL
IT\’S an enduring and highly successful association that\’s showing no signs of slowing down.
We are speaking of the Board-Byers partnership that has dominated racing at Ipswich for a decade or so.
Early last month leading owner-breeder-trainer Greg Board, who has been in the sport for more than 40 years, and his wife Helen travelled from Murray Bridge in South Australia to Ipswich to be honoured after another highly successful year of racing.
Board Racing syndicate dogs, under the guidance of Drayton-based trainer Pauline Byers and her son Shane, gave connections success in both the 2020 Ipswich Greyhound of the Year (Spring Rock) and Owner of the Year awards.
Seven nights earlier the Boards had won the 2020 Syndicate of the Year award at the Greyhound Racing SA presentation evening. (The SA title acknowledges the important role syndications play within the industry.)
Originally from NSW, the Boards, who have had some star chasers over the years including outstanding sire Spring Gun, relocated to SA in early 2017.
The syndicate is a family affair comprising Greg as manager, Helen and their son Scott, who is still based at the family\’s Spring Hill property near Orange in NSW.
The Boards won a total of 80 races at three SA tracks – Gawler, Angle Park and Murray Bridge – during the year with standout performers Spring Cobra (12 wins), Spring Burner (11 wins), Spring Vinnie (8 wins) and Spring Scout (7 wins).
Their success was even more impressive at Ipswich.
They won the owners title with a tally of 702 points, Spring Rock was the standout sprinter with 17 wins for the year – all over the 431m trip – and their dogs helped Pauline Byers win the female trainers premiership, maintaining the Byers family\’s domination at Ipswich.
Pauline\’s late husband, prominent trainer Col Byers, had been a leading figure at the club for years.
He dominated the trainers ranks, winning the male premiership in 2007 and then from 2011 until his death in 2019.
Much of that success was due to the powerful team of dogs from the Board operation.
Greg, who won the Ipswich owners title in 2016 before Board Racing\’s recent domination – winning in 2018, \’19 and \’20 – remembers his first connection with Byers about 10 years ago.
\”I sold a lot of dogs to Dallas Beckett (at Rockhampton) who had a close association with Col,\” Board recalls.
\”Col rang me one day and said \’What about sending me some dogs\’.\”
And so began a friendly and highly successful partnership.
\”I met Col for the first time about five years ago during a holiday to the Gold Coast and I met Pauline for the first time last month,\” he said.
\”During our recent visit, we drove to the Byers property at Toowoomba to look at the dogs.
\”We have 15 or so with Pauline. She is training one of our biggest outside teams.
\”We also have dogs with Mark Delbridge in Victoria and we have sold dogs to owners in New Zealand and most states.
For the Boards, who had \’a fantastic night\’ at Ipswich, the success didn\’t stop with the award presentations.
Two of their dogs – Spring Cleo and GOTY winner Spring Rock – quinellaed the Owner of the Year best eight open sprint over 431m.
\”It was great to win and Helen was happy … she had $5 on the winning quinella,\” said Board, who could be heading back to Ipswich in 12 months time.
Although it is still very early in the year, his syndicate, as of last month, had jumped to a 29-point lead in the 2021 owners premiership, promising sprinter Spring Bowler was leading the GOTY points table and Pauline Byers was locked in another battle with Serena Lawrance (80 points each) in the female premiership.
In the other major award for 2020, Darren Johnstone was presented his male trainers premiership honours.