Donna’s Casino job was no gamble

Caption: Recently appointed Casino Greyhound Club secretary-manager Donna Pezet in the winners’ circle with handler Brendon Northfield after Mia Magic took out the Ladbrokes Red Dog Jackpot Race. (Photo: Lisa Vanderstok)

By DAVID BRASCH

ALMOST a decade ago Donna Pezet was in Brisbane pining for greyhound racing.

Donna, 50, had lived a life involved with greyhounds and couldn’t live any longer without them.

So, she decided to move to Casino and follow her long-time partner Jeff Ahern to the town.

\”I\’d been working in the offices of Yellow Pages for 12 years and then Shopa Docket for 12 years as well,\” she said. \”But I just love greyhounds and needed to be around them.

\”Shopa Docket were fantastic. They set it up that I could work from home, so I headed to Casino.\”

But in October last year, Donna\’s love of greyhounds took a decided change.

She was approached about taking over the reins as secretary-manager of the Casino Club. Ron Herd was retiring.

\”Someone mentioned to me that Ron was retiring,\” Donna said. \”I was asked to have a two-week trial, enjoyed it so much, and here I am.

\”Obviously I\’ve got a lot to learn about the running of a race club, but every week I\’m here it is getting easier and the committee have been very supportive.

\”It was great that I arrived during the time of the Casino Cup carnival because everything was so busy and the carnival went off so successfully,\” she said.

Already Donna has stamped her mark on the club by starting a Facebook page.

Donna is born and bred in Brisbane.

\”I grew up in Kallangur and got introduced to greyhounds when I was 13,\” she said. \”My Mum Kathy knew Jeff Ahern and I would tag along to Albion Park.\”

It wasn\’t long before she was Jeff\’s helping hand around his Joyner kennels.

\”I remember having a meeting with the stewards at the Control Board at Albion because I wanted to get a licence to handle Jeff\’s dogs,\” she said.

\”They gave me the OK.\”

Donna was hooked.

\”Jeff had a lot of dogs in those days, and a lot of good ones like Smart Paws, Smart Solo, Don\’t Cry … really good Gabba dogs,\” she said.

She left school at 15 and did a bit of part-time work while still helping Jeff with his kennel.

\”When I got to 16 I decided I needed a real job and I started work with Yellow Pages, office work,\” she said.

\”But, Jeff and I have always been in a training partnership. I absolutely love greyhounds.\”

Stars like McDeebee, Foxy Fonz and the like gave them plenty of boast about.

But a decade ago, Jeff decided he\’d had enough of the traffic around Brisbane and headed to Casino. He was happy to scale down the kennel and live a quieter life.

Within 18 months Donna knew she couldn\’t live without greyhound racing so she too moved to Casino.

These days Jeff has only two dogs in training but one is the smart Burnt Ends.

\”We have also just bred a litter by Fernando Blaster from Dulcafay,\” Donna said. \”She\’s a Barcia Bale bitch and she produced 13 pups, four dogs and nine bitches. We\’ve sold seven already.\”

Jeff has been right behind Donna\’s move to secretary-manager at Casino Club.

\”It\’s been great because I found with the Shopa Docket set-up at home I was not getting out much at all,\” she said.

\”Luke Mason has been really good helping me get started at the club.

\”Early next year [2022] we hope to run some twilight meetings under the new lighting that has been installed.\”

Donna is such a familiar face around the Northern Rivers tracks she has been instantly accepted as the new boss at Casino.

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