CAPTION: Stephen Gerrard as a young boy with his father Mal. Stephen learned a lot from his father, a talented jockey-turned-trainer who enjoyed great success with the likes of Doomben 10,000 winner Mr Innocent.
By BRENNAN RYAN
Stephen ‘Badger’ Gerrard and his bloodline are steeped in Tasmanian racing.
The Gerrard family’s thoroughbred involvement originated through champion trainer Mal Gerrard, who trained several high-class gallopers.
Badger and his mum Gayle still live-in separate houses on the original family property in Deloraine.
For Stephen, the memories around those champion thoroughbreds remain vivid today.
“Dad had a great affinity with horses and I really enjoyed being around them and riding them. I loved any moment I could get around the stables. There were some great horses to ride,” he recalled.
“Everyone in the racing game in those days would mix with each other from different codes and that’s how I got interested with greyhounds. A well-respected dog trainer by the name of Sammy Bracken … both he and my dad would drink together down the local pub in Deloraine.”
Stephen says his great-grandfather Fred Eade was associated in training standard-bred horses.
“Fred ran a blacksmith shop from the house where mum lives in now. He would be unique in not only shoeing horses, but he would also make gates for people around town,” he said.
Cobber and Stephen’s grandfather, Graham, worked alongside Fred in the famous workshop.
Graham and William’s mother, Lila Oliver, from Beulah who married Fred, was also a gifted horsewoman with trotters. Family matriarch Lila Eade wouldn’t miss the races at Deloraine. She attended her last race meeting there – the annual Easter race meeting 1984 – on the day before her 100th birthday.
Train driver Graham Eade married Vonnie Kelly from Ulverstone and their daughter and Stephen’s mother, Gayle, carried on the family racing interest when she married a trainer of gallopers, Mal Gerrard, a talented ex-jockey-turned-trainer, formerly from New South Wales.
During his time as a trainer Mal claimed five premierships and won several big races.
Robin’s Boy (1968 Queen’s Cup), Win The Trick (1969 Devonport Cup), Red Tornado (1970 Launceston Cup) were among greats trained by Gerrard. Others were Ebon Beat, who won the 1972 TAS National Steeplechase and Mr. Innocent, who claimed a Doomben 10,000.
Mr. Innocent was a prolific galloper winning 14 races from 39 starts and $1.7m in stakes.
Mal started his horse racing career as an apprentice jockey in New South Wales.
He rode Roudell to victory in the 1957 Rockhampton Cup in Queensland. He was also successful with Strong Guy in the 1961 VRC Grand National Hurdle at Flemington.
The Gerrard family had a stable on course in Deloraine before Mal moved back to NSW.
A stint training in Victoria saw Stephen live with his father. That was when he met famed greyhound trainer Ted Sallows, further enhancing his interest in greyhound racing.
“Dad had met Ted (Sallows) at the local pub, and he actually saved dad from a fight. I was fifteen and my girlfriend at the time and I would go along to the Cranbourne dogs.
“I backed two of Ted’s dogs that won. Here I was with a pocket full of cash,” Stephen said.
Mal passed away in Coffs Harbour in 2003.
Stephen raced horses with no major success, but finally turned his interests to greyhounds.
Working at Aurora, he befriended trainer Rodney Stamford, who had convinced Stephen, to place a bet on a ‘good thing’. From then on Stephen was bitten by the greyhound bug.
He built a close association with Rodney’s parents Richard and Jillian Stamford, who are remembered for preparing such noted chasers as Shantung Tiger and Double Time.
It also led to a meeting with Les Barker, who trained Stephen’s first winner Bronko’s Boy.
Topline On Time (6 from 20 starts) was another runner trained by the Stamfords.
Another friendship was formed through David and Margaret Crosswell, which allowed Stephen to race Olivia’s Dream, which was trained by David and won five from 38 starts.
Stephen credits David Crosswell with his decision in taking up dog training.
It resulted in Woodridge giving Gerrard his first training win, at Launceston over 515 metres.
“David and his daughters Debbie and Michele have been a massive help in my training career. You always remember your first win as a trainer and Woodridge gave me that thrill.”
At present only three dogs are housed in the Deloraine kennels of Stephen ‘Badger’ Gerrard.
Among those chasers is a fifteen-month-old Aston Dee Bee pup that is showing potential.
From those days around his dad’s stables to racing his owns greyhounds, Badger says he still uses the same principles his father Mal taught him all those years ago when looking after animals.
“Give your runners good food, plenty of exercise and attention. You can’t go wrong.”