Bourke’s group journey – from Ayers Rock to Albion Park

Caption: Matt Bourke with Bee Pink. (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)

By Pat McLeod

Matt Bourke’s greyhound journey may have taken him via Sydney, western NSW and Ayers Rock, but on Thursday night he will have ‘arrived’ exactly where he wants to be.

Bourke will be contesting his first group event in greyhound racing as a trainer, the $112,500 Group 2 Bogie Leigh Futurity Final (520m) at Albion Park with his home-bred bitch, Bee Pink.

“This is my first group race as a trainer and it just feels good to be in the final,” he said.

“What makes it feel even better is the fact that I bred the litter.

“Everyone wants to be part of the big race nights and while it would be great to win, to make the final is a good effort.

“The aim of course is to have good dogs in your kennel so you can be part of these races more often.”

Although Bourke has only been a fulltime trainer for about two years, the interest in racing began when he was a child in Sydney with a family involvement in harness racing that extended west to Dubbo and Orange.

However, it was while he was working as a maintenance supervisor at Ayers Rock tourist resorts in about 2010 that he decided to buy a greyhound, which was trained in south-east Queensland.

That progressed to hobby-training when he and wife Nicole later moved to Lowood, near Ipswich.

“There’s not a lot to spend your money on at Ayers Rock, but that allowed us to save and buy our first house,” he said.

From that couple of acres at Lowood the couple decided about four years ago to expand to a 40-acre greyhound-specific property, further west at Churchable.

Two years ago, Bourke began training greyhounds fulltime.

“I really enjoy it,” he said.

“Nicole is also involved. She has a handler’s licence and also works fulltime in I.T.

“I enjoy the challenge of doing it all – from whelping through to racing.

“It is very satisfying watching the dogs develop, learn and improve. You are with them from day one.”

Bee Pink is part of a very handy Aussie Infrared – Eight Green Cans litter that also includes group racer Jen’s Joy, trained by Bourke’s good mate, Jamie Hosking, and Letho Land (trained by Bourke).

Eight Green Cans was raced by Hosking in south-east Queensland after the trainer and dog relocated from Darwin.

When she retired, Bourke bred from her and now has a second litter, to Jungle Deuce, that are about 12 months old.

He said Bee Pink, like most of the litter, was continuing to blossom into a better race dog.

“The girls in the litter have done quite well and a couple of the boys have the potential to be as good, or even better,” he said.

“It is a good litter and a good dam line.

“So far the litter has won about $150,000 and I really haven’t got them off the ground yet. 

“There is a lot of blue sky ahead with this litter. They are handy enough to be a better litter than what they’re showing at the moment.

“Jen’s Joy has put the runs on the board and hopefully I’ve got a couple of good middle distance/stayers in Letho Land and Bee Pink.”

In her heat, Bee Pink was second in 30.34 to the sizzling Loving Smile (29.85), who pulled up sore and has been scratched from Thursday night’s final.

Bourke said his dog will need some luck.

“She has always had a little bit of ability and in this race, obviously, she’ll need a little bit of luck,” he said.

“Hopefully she comes out like she did last week and is in the middle or better.

“She is a bit one-paced, but does have good track sense and finishes strongly.

“I would have liked an inside draw on Thursday night (Bee Pink will come out of Box 7). She’s OK out there, but just hasn’t got that speed to get across and lead.

“They’re all young dogs and all you need is a bit of luck around that first corner.”



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