By TERRY WILSON
VETERAN trainer Tony Apap has experienced life through some troubled times in his 46 years in the greyhound industry.
From the closure of a number of tracks in south-east Queensland and over the border at Tweed Heads, through the live baiting scandal and now on to the coronavirus pandemic, the 62-year-old has seen it all.
But, the Gatton-based trainer says, the pulse of the sport will continue to beat strongly and the industry will bounce back and beat off another major hurdle.
The advent of the coronavirus has forced significant changes on greyhound racing – yet Apap says everyone involved in the industry can be thankful that they are still racing.
Racing Queensland has announced significant prizemoney reductions applicable to feature races around the state.
It was a tough decision to make but, like a number of trainers, Apap understands and accepts the reasons why.
The bottom line, he says, is that racing is still going ahead.
“We’ll get over it (the reductions in prizemoney),” he said.
“We’ve got to accept it and that we’re lucky to be racing.
“How would it be if we stopped racing? That’s when we have something to worry about.
“It’s very hard at the moment but we’ve got to fight through it.”
Apap has been around through the closure of Border Park in Tweed Heads, Stephens Paceway and Parklands on the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, Lawnton and Toowoomba, as well as the move of Brisbane racing from the Gabba to Albion Park.
Then there was the live baiting scandal that threatened to send dog racing into oblivion as governments considered banning the sport.
But the dogs have survived even if it is an eerie experience going to Ipswich or Albion Park when the stands and bar are closed to the public.
It’s like a ghost town, Apap agreed, and it is an experience knowing you have to take your own food to the track and sit in your car to eat it.
“You take your own thermos flask and buy a pizza on the drive down to the track,” he said.
“It’s like you are taking your picnic basket to the races.
“It is difficult. You go there and a lot of people sit in their car. You like to socialise but you can’t get too close.”
It could be worse though, the veteran said. Certainly prizemoney has been scaled down for the bigger events but the bottom line is that owners and trainers are still able to chase the dollars.
“The circumstances are that you have to accept it and that we’re still racing for prizemoney,” he said.
“I’m just relieved we still can still race. We just have to hang in there because it could be a lot worse.
“When we see all the football codes closed down it’s just a bonus to be able to race.”
A popular figure around the traps, Apap was only 16 when he was granted a trainer’s licence. These days the greyhound tradition continues through himself and daughter Christina Harman.
At time of Chase going to print, Apap had a dozen dogs in work and plenty of pups coming through his kennels.
So he is facing the future with plenty of optimism that things will eventually get back to normal for an industry that traditionally fights its way back to good health.