Caption: Bellerive-based trainer Darryl Howlin indicates who’s No. 1 after He’s Under Wraps won the 2022 Quest Hobart Maiden Thousand.
By BRENNAN RYAN
TRAINER Darryl Howlin completed a confident long-range plan when He’s Under Wraps arrived in time to land the recent Quest Hobart Maiden Thousand.
The Bellerive-based Howlin had tipped the chaser to his brother Matt about a month earlier when calling to wish him a happy birthday. He’s Under Wraps delivered on that birthday tip in the prestigious $10,175-to-the-winner feature, storming home late to score in a tight finish and give Howlin his first feature win in greyhounds since the mid-1980s.
“I keep in close contact with my brother Matt and when calling him for his birthday, I stated that He’s Under Wraps would be a chance for the Maiden Thousand series in Hobart,” said Howlin. “It’s been a long-range plan to have the dog ready.”
Starting at $10 from box two in the final, the son of Jagger Swagger and Kept Under Wraps did his best work late, hitting the front in the shadows on the post to defeat Superior Swanny by a head with Deadly Cecil 1.5 lengths away in third.
That victory was his fourth win from 20 starts.
Howlin originally purchased the black chaser from Latrobe trainer Mick Sherriff just nine starts earlier. He’s Under Wraps had come to Darryl’s attention and was quick to make an offer when the dog was advertised for sale.
“Watching the previous replays, you could see He’s Under Wraps was showing faults in his racing manners, which gave me something to work with,” said Howlin. “If you could work him out, the dog could run well and the form does show that at present.”
Howlin, now 68, originates from Randwick in Sydney but has lived in the Hobart region for some time, training both greyhounds and thoroughbreds over the years.
Living in Randwick, Darryl came through a legendary era of racing with some of Australia’s great trainers and jockeys operating from stables around his family home.
Howlin said his mother Beryl was the greatest influence in getting him involved with animals.
“(Legendary trainer) Tommy Smith lived not far away and I was fortunate to know Errol Wilson who worked for T.J at the time, that was in the period when Gunsynd was racing,” said Howlin, “I got the opportunity to be at the stables and see the famous grey horse up close – some great memories for sure.”
Darryl recalls forming a great friendship with champion jockey Peter Cook in the early days.
Horse racing remains a major interest in the Howlin family with brother Matt, a barrister and managing director of a top law firm in Sydney, the vice-chairman on the Illawarra Turf Club.
Matt has been extremely lucky to be involved in the ownership of some top-class horses, including Select Prince, the winner of the 1986 Champagne Stakes at Randwick, and star jumper Vindicating (Zabeel x Muto Princess).
Darryl Howlin said his first glimpse of greyhound racing came in watching the legendary Zoom Top careering to some iconic wins around NSW tracks. He also keeps a racebook from Richmond during the straight-track era where Zoom Top had once finished third.
He was 15 when he owned his first greyhound and was hooked on the sport when that chaser won a race at Dapto.
Fast forward to the 1980s and Howlin decided to move to Tasmania where his interest in greyhounds continued.
Not long after moving to the Apple Isle with his family, Howlin enjoyed his first taste of big race success when Blue Breeze won the $6000-to-the-winner 1985 Launceston Cup Final at White City.
“Like He’s Under Wraps in certain ways, Blue Breeze was a racer more than a chaser,” said Howlin. “He too had a few faults, but I persevered and at that time winning the Launceston Cup was the biggest success I’d ever had in greyhound racing.
The influence of legendary greyhound identities Bob and Chris Brown helped the trainer gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of training and care.
Howlin took time out from training dogs to focus on business and would eventually turn to his first passion – training thoroughbreds.
His best horse was Sea Rhythm who won the Devonport Cup and Tasmanian Stakes in 1997.
After more than 30 years away from greyhounds, Howlin returned to the code in 2019, thanks to his friend and fellow trainer Eric Haldane.
Dyna Worker gave Howlin his first winner on his return to training in Hobart on March 2020.
“I was taught to look after horses with much time and effort as you would put into training greyhounds,” he said. “I’ve had some personal tragedies when losing my son a few years back, but there are people that are involved in racing who have been a great help to me.”
Darryl (68) says greyhounds are a great interest to him and sport that he continues to enjoy.