Family connection results in greyhound ‘conversion’

Bonnie Muller, left, Jarrod Sheppard and Alana Ratten after Misuzulu’s maiden win at Albion Park (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

By DAVID BRASCH

THE June 2021 victory by Bold Character in the Regional Origin Challenge at Albion Park had a profound effect on the lives of the dog’s owners, Ben Sheppard and his family, and trainer Greg Cannon.

But, up in the grandstand, enjoying her first ever night out at greyhound racing was Alana Ratten.

Alana, now 30, is related to Greg Cannon.

Greg’s cousin Barry Robinson is Alana’s grandfather.

Alana is a thoroughbred racing devotee. Her dad Steve was a jockey who rode regularly in Sydney for Gai Waterhouse. He is now groundsman at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club.

Alana’s stepdad is Barry Gill who prepares a team of six at Gympie and Alana is his strapper.

She also works full time in a family business.

“Greg had been giving us some tips on the dogs for a while and that got me quite interested,” said Alana. “So, when the night came for Bold Character to run in the final of the Challenge race at Albion Park, I drove down from Gympie to see the race.”

Bold Character won and Alana, at her first ever greyhound race meeting, was swept up with the emotion-charged Sheppard family and the victory for Greg.

“I instantly fell in love with greyhound racing,” said Alana.

Cannon, never one to let an opportunity go by, saw the chance to get Alana involved.

He just happened to have a then 12 months old dog pup by Aston Dee Bee from a bitch called Mursleow and he immediately presented Alana with a quarter share in the pup.

Therein lies yet another fascinating story.

“I raced Mursleow (Cosmic Rumble-Hope Diamond) and she won five races for me,” said Greg. “But I gave her to Paul Hennelly at Fernvale as a pet and promptly forgot about her.

“Paul had her for a couple of years, she came on season and he decided to get a litter out of her. He gave me one of the pups.”

Named Misuzulu, and with Alana Ratten now one of his owners, he recently landed a 331m maiden at Albion Park to give Alana her first winner as an owner.

“My friend Bonnie Muller and I were at Albion Park to see the win,” said Alana. “We were cheering like crazy, but actually thought he had been beaten on the line.

“We were so excited when he won.”

Misuzulu has become the pin-up boy for Alana, Bonnie and all their friends.

“A lot of my friends are on the greyhound racing band wagon now. They all want to get involved.

“Greg is on the lookout for a dog for all of us. But, because he has only two kennels, it’s not that easy.

“When Misuzulu won, Bonnie and I were ready to celebrate, but where is there to celebrate at Breakfast Creek on a Sunday night. We ended up just heading home.”

Alana says it was a huge thrill to land her first winner.

But she is even more buoyed by the fact her family and friends are itching to join her in a another greyhound racing venture.

To top off the success of all that, Alana’s sister Taylor has been working as a strapper for the famous Peter and Paul Snowden stable in Sydney. And, during the Queensland Winter Carnival, Taylor was strapper for Doomben 10,000 winner Mazu.

As Greg Cannon says: “Those girls have a winning touch. I’m looking for another dog for them all … right now.”

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