Clay Mawson: Get to know the right people

Caption: Clay Mawson (far right) after Jungle Deuce’s success in this year’s G1 Gold Bullion (520m) at Albion Park. Photo: Box 1 Photography

SPEED Hump … remember that name.

A son of Brother Fox and a bitch called Miss Cranky, he was my first entry into greyhound racing.

My schoolmate Alex and I had been mad dog punters from our school days. My Mum’s brothers too were regulars at Wentworth Park and Harold Park, and when I was a kid they always took me along to the dogs.

I loved it.

So it was a sure thing I was going to get involved as an owner of greyhounds.

We bought Speed Hump as a pup from an old guy we had met. I asked the guy, who was rearing the pups, if he was us which one would he pick. He suggested one of the two pups still available.

Alex and I went for the other one … Speed Hump. He won a couple up Wyong, while the other one available to us won six at Wentworth Park.

By telling that story about my initial entry into greyhound racing I want to highlight the first pitfall newcomers to greyhound racing face.

It has EVERYTHING to do with getting to know the right people in this industry, picking their brains, and then hoping for the best. It is as easy, or as difficult, as that.

I’ve spent the past 27 years in the hospitality business, am married to Diane and have two great kids, Lauren, 28, and Mitch, 25.

My priority in life was bringing up a family and establishing myself in business. Speed Bump had to be my one and only greyhound racing experience until later in life.

My work gave me that opportunity. I became great mates with Brian Jagger through St George Maso’s club. We are regulars there.

Brian and I decided to get a pup. Brian knew Barry Ward who had a bitch called Solar Pak. She’d just had a litter to Collision, her second mating. The first was by Fernando Bale.

We were able to buy a Collision-Solar Pak pup from Barry for $5000 and named her Solar Sky. She won 14 races and $40,000, and her wins included a couple at Wentworth Park.

She is a litter sister to champions Feral Franky and Good Odds Harada.

Since we have bred litters by Fernando Bale, just going to the breakers, and have a 12-week-old litter by Barcia Bale.

So, you can see we got good advice, were put onto the right people very early on, and it has led to instant success with Solar Sky.

Since then Brian and I bought a Barcia Bale-Serena Fly High pup for $5000. He races as Jungle Deuce and lucky for us he has won 25 races and earned $655,000. It’s a dream come true.

But what it does prove to Brian and me, and should be a lesson for anyone wanting to come into greyhound racing, is we have bought great bloodlines, got the pups reared the best we could, and then given them to Jack Smith at Forbes.

Jack has become a friend. He’s magnificent and a great source of enjoyment for us.

What the experience Brian and I have had should prove to newcomers is a pretty simply approach.

You have got to ask questions, but only ask them of the right people. Jack is the perfect person to guide our greyhound racing experience.

But, I’ve also got so much advice from trainers like Peter Lagogiane, Frank Hurst and Mark Gatt. Don’t be afraid to ask the leaders of greyhound racing for their advice.

But don’t just ask any Tom, Dick or Harry.

In today’s world social media is also a great help.

So many people are on social media and the right people are always willing to lend a hand.

Recently I was approached by a nephew who has a friend wanting to get a greyhound.

My advice was to set a budget, have a few extra bucks available for any contingencies, and be patient. Look through classifieds, learn about bloodlines, not just any bloodlines, but the very best lines, the most successful bloodlines, and still ask for advice again and again.

I believe what people do wrong in this game is just jump in and buy any pup they see advertised. If you don’t do your research, you will come undone.

Rearing a greyhound pup is absolutely the most important aspect. This cannot be stressed enough. It’s the bee’s knees of the life of a greyhound.

But, finding a good rearer for a pup is not always easy. The longer one is in this industry, you come to realise rearing should be done on a big property where those pups have access to big paddocks to do their thing.

Once a pup is educated, it’s time to start looking for a trainer. That break-in report is everything when it comes to finding a trainer.

Brian and I have been so lucky to find Jack Smith. He is a great trainer and a great friend, and Jack has learned to celebrate since he met us … he knocks back a Pepsi Max.

While everyone is looking for a Jungle Deuce, there are no guarantees in this industry. It is the racing industry and finding a winner to own is harder than finding a winner to bet on.

Speed Hump was my first experience of exactly that.

Among the pitfalls newcomers face is they expect miracles to happen, and expect instant success.

If it was that easy, EVERYONE would own a champion greyhound.

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