Gail leaves lasting legacy

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By DAVID BRASCH

LATE in July, Gail Thorsby was sneakily tempted to attend a Wentworth Park Saturday night race meeting.

There was an ulterior motive, not from Gail but those on the stewards panel at GWIC in New South Wales.

Gail, you see, retired at the end of July as chief steward at GWIC ending a lifetime involvement at hands-on greyhound training and for the past couple of decades controlling racing.

\”I feel very blessed to be given a send-off,\” said Gail. \”To think that is what they think of me … well it\’s special.\”

Gail admits husband Steve, who also recently retired from regular race day duties he had held for decades, had been putting ‘a little bit of pressure’ on her.

\”We have the campervan all ready to head around the country for some holidays,\” said Gail. \”The Darwin Cup next year will be a priority. We had booked a trip to Las Vegas and Hawaii this year but Covid put that off.\”

Gail Thorsby grew up in greyhound racing.

Her grandmother Myrtle Hutton was a dyed-in-the-wool greyhound devotee, one of the first women licensed to train greyhounds in the Newcastle area.

Myrtle’s daughter Marie Bromley, Gail’s mum, followed into the training ranks. Marie was a devoted GBOTA member and trainer of the year.

Gail\’s first dog, Slim Ebony, won 16 races at Beaumont Park, Cessnock and a heat of the Vic Peters at Wentworth Park. A number of stars followed and a move to a Tamborine greyhound complex in south-east Queensland provided plenty of winners.

In 1999 she took on a role as casual steward at Capalaba and stayed 18 months. It would be the start of a 21-year career as a steward and saw her rise to the very top in two states.

\”I joined the panel as a casual steward in 2003, became a senior steward, deputy and then chief steward,\” she said.

\”In 2012 she and Steve moved to NSW. He became the chief steward on the Northern Rivers and in control of ear-branding and micro-chipping etc.

\”The industry was absolutely booming at the time and the numbers of pups bred down to Kempsey, out to Armidale and of course around the Northern Rivers was huge.\”

By October 2018 she was ready to take on the role as chief steward at GWIC.

\”I\’ve been lucky,\” said Gail. \”I believe we have been able to gain a lot of respect for stewards panels. It is something I have tried very hard to instil.\”

Gail says former stewarding great Darryl Kays gave her an eye opener when he took her to a thoroughbred race meeting at Ipswich not long after she joined the panel at Racing Queensland.

\”It really opened my eyes to the ways things were done in that industry, especially in regards to stewarding,\” she said. \”I never forgot that day. It was a great learning curve for me.\”

Gail says there have been great highlights during her stewarding career, but none more than the initial running of the $1 Million Chase.

\”I\’ve never seen anything like it on a greyhound track,\” she said. \”The buzz around that night was something I will always remember.\”

Gail also offered parting advice for the powers that be.

\”I\’d like to see more state-of-the-art tracks built,\” she said. \”We need to concentrate on better designed tracks.\”

She also believes dealing with two different bodies – GRNSW and GWIC – presents problems.

Gail and Steve Thorsby have moved into over-50s living at Banora Point on the Tweed River. Holidays now will be as easy as shutting the door and driving away.

\”I\’m proud of the fact that all stewards panels around the country are aligned to each other, all on board with what needs to happen to run this industry,\” she said.

Gail Thorsby has left a legacy in greyhound racing few can match.

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