Digger’s future starts with a sniff at million-dollar collect

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Caption: Scott Atkinson and daughter Chelsea at his training base at Townsville

 

By David Brasch

SCOTT Atkinson hobbled out of army life a couple of years ago with a medical discharge wondering just what life held for him and his family.

He found his answer in the world of greyhound racing.

And, instantly has his sight set firmly on a million dollar pay day.

Initially, those ideas were never about a hands-on roll, but success comes quick to some and Scott and his family, wife Stacey and daughters Mikayla, 14, and Chelsea, 12, now have a kennel of five dogs in training and a love of the industry.

Townsville-based Scott, 39, and his Victorian-based mate Sean Cameron went halves in a dog called Cooper Scooper a couple of years ago.

\”Sean lives at Bendigo and he talked me into getting into a syndicate with him, racing Cooper Scooper,\” said Scott. \”It worked out great because he has won at both Sandown and The Meadows.\”

Well, that really gave Scott Atkinson the incentive to look around for even further involvement.

\”That\’s when the very first Sandown Greyhound Draft came around,\” he said.

\”I thought, this is a great idea, paid my money and joined Team Cameron.\”

The Sandown Draft, pups picked by George Farrugia for the club, included many outstandingly bred youngsters. Obviously only some were going to live up to their bloodlines.

Scott and Team Cameron are among the lucky ones.

Their dog ‘Harvey’, or as he is better known on the racetrack as Wallbanger, gave the Draft and very big high when he made the recent final of the Million Dollar Chase, finishing seventh.

By the time he lined up for the gigantic pay day, Wallbanger had started 50 times for 15 wins and 18 placings earning $90,000.

\”Once I got the discharge from the army, obviously I had a lot of time on my hands,\” said Scott. \”So I went off to the track and got to meet Robbie Lounds. One thing led to another and I started heading out to Robbie\’s kennels to help out.

\”I got a handler\’s license and that naturally led me to think I should go get a trainer\’s license myself.\”

He got his first dog from NSW-based Neil Lyford and eventually he won and other dogs followed to the stage he now has five in training with Go Rusty Go a promising dog.

\”I remember my first win, with Sovereign Storm,\” said Scott. \”I was so excited when I was coming back after the race that (fellow trainer) Matthew Maguire said to me he was not so disappointed he had just finished second in the race, seeing it was my first winner.\”

Scott now shares kennels at Robbie Lounds\’ property and all the duties of training are shared between them.

Except that daughter Chelsea tags along all the time to help out.

\”Go Rusty Go is her absolute favourite,\” said Scott.

Stacey and Mikayla were out at touch footy the night Wallbanger was striving to make it to the final of the Million Dollar Chase and that left Scott and Chelsea home to watch it on TV.

\”I swear the neighbours thought we were murdering each other we were screaming so hard when he won,\” said Scott. \”To be even racing for a million bucks is something else.\”

Scott loves the fact Townsville now races twice a week, but even that can have after effects for him.

\”The medical discharge from the army was for a crook back and every night after I go racing my back is pretty crook, I can hardly walk,\” he said.

But get a winner and Scott, and Chelsea, and the family are flying high.

Scott manages an occasional shift as a security guard these days which is a long way from a 2013 tour of duty to Afghanistan. \”Spending time over there certainly puts you on your toes,\” he admitted.

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