Farewell to a true NQ champion

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By Mike Hill and Racing Qld

THE Queensland greyhound racing industry is mourning the loss of hard-working administrator and highly successful trainer Emma Bryant following a long battle with cancer.

A key figure in the sport in North Queensland for many years, Bryant had been the heart and soul of the Cairns Greyhound Club prior to its closure in late 2018.

And it\’s well accepted by many in the North that without Emma\’s drive the club probably would have folded years earlier.

Even during bouts of illness, Bryant would make the three-hour round trip from the 20-acre property she shared with partner Arthur Gosper, near Atherton on the Northern Tablelands, to Cairns several times a week.

Arthur looked after the track maintenance while Emma took control of the office as well as racing her dogs.

She regularly rugged up multiple winners and won her first Cairns Trainer of the Year award in 1998 – a crown she would claim more than 10 times.

Her final victory in the premiership came in 2018.

In early 2016, after almost 40 years in the game, Bryant finally was in the position to say \’I have trained the program\’.

Although the odds were stacked, somewhat, in her favour – she boxed 14 of the 28 runners at the five-event meeting – her team still had to do the hard work and win.

She had come close to training the program on several occasions over the years.

\”It\’s a massive thrill to win all five races on the program,\” the delighted trainer said on the night.

\”It\’s a first for me although I have come close a few times.\”

In was a massive night for Bryant, who also went home with the bulk of the prizemoney.

Not only did she win all five races, but she also picked up two trifectas, a quinella and a third placing.

In the final event – for the best eight over 410m – Bryant rugged up four runners in the six-dog field and filled the first four placings.

Emma started her training career in the early 80s before going on to serve as a well-respected administrator.

She had a long-standing association with the Cairns club, serving as president, secretary-manager and committee member for more than 14 years.

Her love of the sport began in 1974 after she was invited to attend a greyhound meet at the old Gabba track.

It was there that she met people like Tony Zammit and the experience sparked her love affair with the sport.

Bryant received her first dog, Zara Zip, from her sister, Evelyn – who unbeknown to Emma was also a trainer – and by 1982 she had obtained her trainer\’s license.

She stayed active as a trainer and with her small team was still netting winners in Townsville as recently as a few months ago.

\”Emma was the heart and soul of the Cairns Greyhound Racing Club,\” said RQ COO Adam Wallish.

\”As the Far North\’s premier trainer, there was very little she didn\’t achieve and she was just as hard working behind the scenes.

\”As recently as last month, she was still training winners and we extend our condolences to her partner, Arthur, and her extended family.\”

OUTSTANDING North Queensland veteran sprinter Innocent Man hasn\’t been retired just yet, but the next few weeks may well tell the story.

The two-time Townsville Greyhound-of-the-Year winner hasn\’t started since mid-May after breaking a toe.

\”I haven\’t retired him yet but the time could be getting close,\” said Nome-based trainer Glen Olsen.

\”I\’ll give him a run up the straight in coming weeks,\” he said.

\”That should give me a good guide on how he\’s going.

\”He turned five earlier in the year and has had some injury worries of late.\”

Innocent Man, winner of the inaugural Country Cup (520m) at Albion Park in early 2018, has been a wonderful chaser for Olsen with 41 wins and 42 minor placings from 153 starts and has amassed $69,237 in prizemoney.

The Kiowa Mon Manny-Brook Lee black dog (whelped in early April 2015) is a litter brother to Tony Apap\’s grand Group winner Jalapeno.

Innocent Man might not have reached Group level, but he has won a swag of feature events at Townsville, including the North Queensland Cup, Derby, Mayor\’s Trophy, Anzac Day Trophy, Easter Sprint and Australia Day Trophy, since beginning his highly productive career in late 2016.

He was crowned GOTY in 2017 and \’18.

\”He still wants to go,\” said Olsen. \”If he overcomes his most recent injury I\’ll keep racing him, if not he\’ll retire.

\”He\’s had a few little injuries of late that need maintenance.

\”He\’ll tell me when he\’s had enough, but at the moment he still wants to race.\”

Olsen, who has been in the sport more than 40 years, rates the black sprinter as one of his better dogs although he\’s had some wonderful chasers in that time.

\”Saltwater Pete was probably the best with 74 wins and 46 placings from 147 starts,\” he said. \”He was unplaced just 27 times.

\”And Herman John was up there too, with 47 wins and 58 placings  – again from 147 starts.\”

Olsen has been having some fun of late with his Fabregas litter from Innocent Man\’s litter sister Blocker\’s Angel.

All nine from the litter have raced with eight winning, headed by Heart\’s A Mess (seven wins and nine placings from 23 starts).

\”They seem to be getting better with racing,\” said Olsen. \”A couple have broken 22s for the 380m trip in recent months.\”

OWNERS and trainers are looking forward to a \’new look\’ Rockhampton complex after recent track renovations.

Club president Nev Jackson said the project included a new track surface, landscaping, an extension to the kennel block and other external works.

However, work on a new lure rail system has been delayed again because of the NSW-Queensland border closure due to COVID-19.

\”As the lure contractor is based in NSW that part of the project has been put on hold,\” said Jackson.

\”We are expecting the new rail to be installed some time in 2021.

\”Work began last month on a new racing surface, an external irrigation system on the outside fence, landscaping from the judge\’s tower to the 500m boxes and the construction of a level walkway for race catchers.

\”An addition to the kennel block will allow the club to add an extra race to our normal 10-race program.\”

He said with no rail going in, the project\’s completion time had been condensed by half.

Pictured: Emma Bryant and partner Arthur Gosper – they were the backbone of the Cairns greyhound club (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

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