Caption: Churchable trainer Chris Brydon, his wife Natasha and daughter Billie with recent Capalaba winner Coonamble Kid. (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)
Capalaba club wrap with PAT McLEOD
There was something very fitting when a dog called Coonamble Kid won his maiden (366m) at Capalaba in June.
Almost everyone in greyhound racing would be aware of the iconic Coonamble carnival, held each October long weekend (when not postponed or cancelled because of Covid) in the central western plains of NSW.
Some people at Capalaba may have even given a knowing nod when the My Redeemer-My Kinloch black dog saluted, recalling a great time no doubt they would have had at Coonamble.
For Chris Brydon, the dog’s trainer, it meant so much more.
That win was not only a tribute to his past, but also an indicator of his future.
Brydon may now call a 40-acre greyhound property at Churchable, west of Brisbane, ‘home’, but Coonamble is where he grew up and where his love of greyhound racing was born and nurtured.
“When I was growing up I used to help my cousin Rhonda Millsteed, who was a prominent trainer in Coonamble for many years,” he says.
“That’s where my love of greyhounds and greyhound racing really started. I love being around the dogs and also later on enjoyed a punt on them as well.
“I don’t think I ever missed a Coonamble carnival after I turned about eight years old.”
Fast forward a few years and dogs took a back seat to work and marriage, to Natasha, a veterinary nurse, and a change of address to Killarney Vale, on the NSW Central Coast.
“Natasha wanted a pet dog … and I suggested that any pet had to earn its own way,” Brydon explains.
“So, that led us to buying two greyhound pups. I cleaned out the garage, put in four kennels and took out a trainer’s licence.
“One of those pups, Charlu Skye, went on to win seven races, including at Wentworth Park. I continued training, just a few dogs at a time, through that period, from about 2018-2021.
“Like all first-time trainers I had a few difficulties at the start, but I loved it.”
Then life stepped in again. The couple moved to a Cooranbong, near Newcastle. Brydon’s worklife became really busy, they had their first child, daughter Billie, and the greyhound adventure had to be shelved for a while.
“With the baby we really wanted to buy our own place. We were renting at that stage,” he says.
“Everything was really expensive, so we looked north of the border and were really lucky to come across this place at Churchable, which was already set up as a greyhound rearing and training property.
“Natasha and I decided to give greyhounds a go. Her parents, Jane and Peter, have come up with us and it has been fantastic. We haven’t looked back.”
The extended family moved in two days before last Christmas. Brydon Rearing and Pre-training was set up soon after and within three months they were operating at capacity.
Brydon has up to 15 greyhounds in work and races across all three southeast Queensland tracks, but has a soft spot for Capalaba.
“That is a great venue,” he says. “It is especially good for the young dogs to get their confidence.
“Overall we are rapt with the move north. The property is great, the prizemoney is fantastic and the people within the industry have been really helpful.
“And of course there is the new track opening in the next couple of years.”
If life couldn’t get any better for the Brydons, they are expecting their second child in November.
Straight Of Origin
The ‘Mate Against mate, State Against State’ mantra is certainly being channeled at Capalaba as the committee there fields plenty of interest in the 2022 running of the Straight of Origin – heats July 24, final July 31.
A couple of false starts because of flooding has not dampened enthusiasm towards the event. Track manager Erin Cameron says interest in the $25,000 event is constant.
“We are fielding plenty of calls from trainers interested in the event, and also a steady flow of NSW trainers are trialing and racing dogs here with the Straight of Origin in mind.
Cameron is hoping for up to four heats to decide the four Queenslanders in the final and two heats for the Blues. Last year’s race was won by Selena Zammit’s Oliver Keeping,
The influx of interest from NSW trainers isn’t a unique trend. The boutique straight track is seeing plenty of new faces, and also an influx of people who haven’t been seen for a while.
“Overall numbers are incredible,” says Cameron. “Whether it is a boom after the wet weather or just a general rise in interest, or both, but everything is on the increase.”
And the timing could not be better. The Capalaba track is back to picture-perfect after the flooding earlier this year and a couple of big ticket items – the Straight of Origin (final July 31) and the Qld Straight Track Championships (final August 14) – are just around the corner.
‘Thanks’ never goes astray
The Capalaba club deserves its own ‘thank-you’ for constantly slipping their own ‘Thank-you’ into their program.
Like all tracks, Capalaba’s calendar is marked with numerous ‘Memorial’ races.
In July the Billy Harris Memorial will be held on July 10 (heats) and July 17 (final). A bit later there is the Michael Miller Memorial – Heats August 21 and final August 28.
However, whenever there is a vacancy in race sponsorship Capalaba are never backward in lauding a committee member, volunteer, or anyone associated with helping the club out.
That has certainly been the case in recent months with two greyhound legends getting plenty of pats on the back … and will receive more kudos in July.
Syd Norris, who has worn numerous hats in the sport with excellence, will be honoured at Capalaba on Sunday, July 3.
Erin Cameron is not short on praise of the octogenarian.
“Syd is the loveliest man on the planet,” she said.
“He has done so much for so many people in greyhound racing – so knowledgeable and so generous with that knowledge.
“We have invited him and his family down for the day. I hope it will be very special.”
Dr John Murray, whose excellence and generosity as a greyhound vet was appreciated Australia wide, passed away in April.
For the past 40 years he was based in southeast Qld and was no stranger to Capalaba. So, on July 17 it will be Dr John Day at Capalaba.
A real Page-turner
Yet another industry stalwart, Merv Page, created his own party at Capalaba on June 19 when he quinellaed consecutive races.
Page’s Lucky Lindy ($2.30) and Sweet Indie ($2.90) took the top two places in Race 5, the first of the Bitches Qld Bred heats. Then a race later another two from the Page kennel, Magic Mindy ($3.60) and Sizzling Babe ($3), were in the top money.