By LIAM MULRY
THERE was never any doubt I would get into greyhounds … as the topic of this column says.
I was five or six at the time and my dad Bob was president of the Rockhampton Greyhound Club. Dad had a small team of dogs in work with Dennis Anderson through the 1980s and 1990s.
It was only natural for me to tag along when dad was going greyhound racing … which was every week of the year. As long as I can remember I would hop into kennels with dogs.
As the on-track and Sky racecaller for Rockhampton greyhounds, I’ve had that ambition since I was young, about 11 or 12.
I can remember watching the replays of that night’s races each week and calling them myself. Dad would chip me to stop because he wanted to hear them himself.
By the time I was 15, in 1998, I was given the chance to call a few races on the night of the heats of the Rocky Cup. By November that year I was the regular caller and itching to get a greyhound of my own.
Today, I often wonder what would have happened if I had taken the plunge and moved south with race calling aspirations.
These days, my wife Karlee and sons Cooper, 8, and Hunter, 5, are firmly entrenched in Rocky still and ever on the search for a quality greyhound to add to the list we already have in syndications.
By the time I was 18, I was ready to buy my own dog. It was a Bearability bitch called American History and gee wasn’t I very naive. She won one race and I called it happening … a pretty narrow win. Thankfully I’ve got a bit more professional these days calling my own dogs winning.
No, I’ve never trained my own dogs, but plan to do just that at some time down the track. It is something that will be very small scale and ideally I’ll have my family in full support.
My first good dog was bought from Bob Giltinan in south-east Queensland. He was 38kgs and Bill Boon trained him. Named Star Pupil, he twice made the Rocky Cup final and with a bit of luck and better box draws maybe even could have won both.
But, from Star Pupil came the catalyst for more astute purchases.
That’s where a bit of experience has come into play.
When buying a new dog for our syndicate, I always look to something that will run on over 500 metres, something that can possibly be freshened up to run 400 metres as well. I’ve always had an affinity for dogs that run on. Our current multiple city winner, Rose Ali, is just that.
When buying dogs to race in Rockhampton or any country track like it, budget must be the first priority. For instance, if our syndicate was tempted to buy a dog in the $10,000 price range, then it would have to have the ability to win a city race at Albion Park.
The syndicate we have is in front and not many can say that. We had put ourselves there by astute purchases, getting to know the right people in the industry, having a rapport with our trainers, but also selecting trainers who are at the top of their field … winners.
We have developed a fair bit of trust in our connections around the country in our search for the right dogs to buy. Steve Williams was great and now we have built up a friendship with Noel Mugavin in Victoria. Obviously every purchase comes with a bit of risk.
Our purchase of Bimbadgen Man came after much homework and he proved to be a great buy winning a Rocky Derby, two Young Guns in Rocky, another in Townsville and was a finalist in a Rocky Cup. And, we will never forget him being our first city winner.
When newcomers first make the leap into greyhound racing, they should always set a budget.
Approaching a trainer to help find a dog is one way to start, but trainers are like everyone else, they are only too happy to get a new group of owners and have a new dog in their kennel.
There are a lot of dogs out there available for purchase. Please, don’t come into this industry with unrealistic expectations that the more you spend the better the dog will be.
That can be true, but it can also be your downfall.
For racing in places like Rocky, newcomers would best be advised to buy a ready-made race dog. Pups will take far too long to come around and there is no guarantee of success at all.
The best thing about buying tried race dogs is that their form is exposed. When we settle on a dog to buy, I make sure I watch every one of its previous races. This gives me the ideal guide to what we are buying and our chances of being successful.
It is my suggestion NOT to buy a short course dog. There are so many of these available, but the restrictions in earning capacity are strong.
We have had failures, especially a bitch from NSW we had plans to breed with in the future. In hindsight, we overlooked some aspects to her we should not have.
But, our next purchase was Rose Ali who had won five of her first seven at Mt Gambier and was from a very strong family. She has since won four city races and we are already planning our first venture into breeding as a syndicate with her. We are all excited about that.
When choosing a trainer, it is best to do your homework there as well.
A website like the Greyhound Recorder has stats for all trainers. Obviously trainers need to have space in their kennels to fit in your purchase. But, you should also be able to get involved with the trainer.
But, it is no use being best mates with your trainer if he never wins a race for you.
Syndicates obviously spread the fun and the costs. But there too brings in a need for everyone to have an understanding of the ideals the syndicate has.
It is best to have common goals.
Greyhound racing is a wonderful experience. Getting a winner is so much fun and rewarding.
And, if you go about your entry into the industry with thought and a good deal of homework then it can be profitable as well.