By DAVID SMITH
WHEN I was approached by Chase magazine to write this article about getting into greyhound racing, I harked back to my own entry into the industry and how it has engulfed my life.
I’m 41, have three kids, and train out of a 12-acre property at Elderslie which is out Camden way about 60km from Sydney.
I’m a “retired” chartered accountant who built up a few businesses of my own and then sold them to build up my involvement in greyhounds.
My Dad and I would listen to greyhound race calls on 2KY and occasionally go to the dogs when I was growing up. I could not wait to get my first greyhound.
That’s what I did with my first ever pay packet when I was 18. I bought a bitch pup, then 10 weeks old, by Head Honcho from Silver Cassie from Lorraine Atchison.
I chased that pup after seeing an advert in the Greyhound Recorder. Head Honcho was the super sire of the time.
I took the pup home that day and that afternoon it caused $3000 worth of damage to our back yard. I was almost back to Lorraine’s property when I rang her to plead with her to take her back to rear.
She became Good Ethics and trained by Don McMillan she was very good. At one time she was favourite for the Ladies Bracelet but broke a leg in the week before the final.
Good Ethics became my foundation broodbitch and I have been breeding with that same damline for 24 years. I have only ever bought one dog since then, a bitch called Benkennie Chic who was second in the Group 1 Dapto Megastar. I only bought her to help out a mate.
Don McMillan had another dog of mine called Smokin’ Ethics and when Don retired from training his advice to me was “Don’t give him to anyone, keep him yourself”.
I started training and Smokin’ Ethics won six in a row. I was gone from that very moment. My first thought was “how easy is this”.
Every time he won a race, I would go out and buy things to help with my training – a hydrobath, ultrasound machine, you name it.
Smokin’ Ethics also had a problem with his wrists and in a roundabout way this helped with my training future.
I got Barry Lazzarini to check him over and from that moment on Barry became my mentor and for the next 20 years I learned anything and everything about hands-on training of greyhounds from him.
He taught me to check my own dogs, but the practical knowledge he gave me on the care and training of dogs was so valuable.
Smokin’ Ethics was a very good dog and I have found over the years that when you have a good dog like that many people in the industry are more willing to help you out.
These days my kennels include bitches like Super Estrella and Ice Cream Story. I’ve won a Group 1 in Queensland with Classy Ethics who was trained by Jeff Crawford at the time.
I’m close to Group 1 wins with my own training as well.
My property is set up how I’d like it, but I would also like to install a water walker. I’m certain it will pay for itself in the long term. Take for instance bitches like Super Estrella and Ice Cream Story. They earn $3000 and $2000 respectively every time they race.
If I can get two more starts out of them a year, that’s another $10,000 for the year on top of what they have already earned.
Like most other established trainers, when I am approached for advice about getting into greyhounds, I am always happy to help newcomers.
My first suggestion is make sure you have enough money to buy something worthwhile. If it is a pup you are after, buy one by a proven sire and from a damline that chases.
If they chase, they will make you money. My damline chases. If they don’t chase, you will be forever frustrated.
Don’t buy tried dogs. You will only be buying trouble. The prizemoney these days is so good, no one is going to be selling anything that can gallop.
My suggestion is to pay “overs” for a quality bitch and down the track you can start breeding yourself, start your own line. But, my advice is to NEVER buy a pup that is 12 months old, no matter how much the seller assures you it is untried.
And, only buy from reputable people. Once into a strong damline that chases, you will be amazed at how the genetics of that line sticks true. I have noticed it with my own line.
I would encourage anyone to have a crack at training greyhounds.
My family are animal lovers first and foremost, and that is a big plus with greyhounds.
Once you get the bug, and start winning, it gets better and better.
There is no better feeling than breeding your own, rearing them, training them and winning with them. It’s all about the satisfaction, even more so than the financial rewards.
But the biggest thing about getting winners is to keep the dogs happy.
Happy dogs will keep you happy.