By MIKE HILL
CHURCHABLE-based Kerry Hoggan is featured in this month’s The Trainer column.
Hoggan, a former high school teacher, has been training for at least two decades although she’s been around greyhounds most of her life.
With the benefit of ‘some very good owners’, she has built up her kennel numbers in recent years which greatly helped her to win her first female trainer’s premiership at Ipswich last year after finishing runner-up to Amy O’Reilly in 2017.
Hoggan ended the 2018 season with 201 points, 31 in front of Pamela Field (170) with Serena Lawrance (148) third.
Already she has a 29-point lead in this year’s Ipswich title race over her nearest rival Amber Boody (50).
Hoggan said her family had been involved in the sport for many years.
“Mum and dad had greyhounds when they lived in Bankstown (Sydney) and again when they moved to Gosford on the NSW Central Coast,” she said.
A high school teacher for 25 years, she resigned in 2007 to concentrate on full-time training.
“I taught science and maths to students from Years 7 to 12,” she said.
She admitted that trainers with big teams usually won the premierships.
“We have 25-30 dogs in work at present,” Hoggan said.
“That includes racing dogs, break-ins and pre-race youngsters.”
With her partner Ian, who has been involved in the sport for 50 years, the Hoggan operation also caters for breeding and whelping.
“We do the lot,” she said.
Hoggan has collected a number of feature victories over the years, including the Young Guns at Ipswich with smart sprinter Lusina (2012) and the Tommy Hoyland at Capalaba with Late Illusion (2011).
Lusina also won the Bankstown City Cup at Potts Park for Hoggan when under the care of trainer Norm Becroft.
The black son of Watch The Web and Petite Tory had a career record of 15 wins and eight minor placings from 41 starts, including a victory at Wentworth Park.
Hoggan also had a lot of success with brindle sprinter Cauthen (36: 14-10-3).
After recovering from a stopper bone operation that sidelined the sprinter for six months, Cauthen (Bit Chili-Petite Tory) came back to record a seven-race winning streak (Capalaba 2, Ipswich 4, Albion Park 1).
“His four wins at Ipswich were just off the track record at the time – 24.75s, 24.79s (twice) and 24.81s,” said Hoggan.
She said the times were exceptional for a dog that had been off the scene for so long and coming back from an operation.
In the middle of his career, Cauthen went on a wonderful 16-race streak with 10 wins and six seconds, including two runner-up placings at Wentworth Park.
Hoggan does most of her racing around the Brisbane region – at Albion Park, Ipswich and Capalaba – but over the years she has ventured into NSW.
“We’re not afraid to travel,” she said.
Like most trainers, Hoggan has a dream to win a Group 1 feature but at the moment she is just focused on having her team racing at their top.
She currently has a group of handy sprinters including Master Kinloch (38: 5-7-9), Ratajkowski (43: 9-6-5), new addition, ex-Victorian chaser, Heat Up (45: 12-5-9) and the well-bred Gaz’s Girl (Shakey Jakey-Just For Show), winner of her first three starts over the Albion Park 395m trip.
“I have some very good owners,” she said.
One, in particular, is Gary Pearce, who has several promising sprinters in the Hoggan kennels.
They include Gaz’s Girl (4: 3-0-0) and litter mate Pine’s Pick (4: 1-0-2), which just failed to qualify for the rich Vince Curry Memorial Maiden final (520m) at Ipswich in February.
1: How and when did you get involved in greyhound racing?
A: My family has always been involved with greyhounds and I owned one or two with Bill Mason as the trainer. I obtained a Class 1 Trainer’s licence in 1995.
2: Who has been the greatest influence on you as a trainer?
A: I had good mentors in my stepfather Bill Mason and master trainer Kevin Johns. The greatest influence has been my husband Ian.
3: At what age do you start preparing a pup for racing?
A: A pup’s preparation for racing begins with pre-training anytime from 14 months of age.
4: How long does it take to prepare a pup for its first race?
A: The time frame varies depending on the level of maturity of the pup. Once the pup has been broken in it is usually spelled in a small yard before entering pre-training. This can take eight to 12 weeks.
5: What makes a good pup?
A: A sensible dog in the kennel and a good temperament is very important.
6: Do you do anything special when preparing a young dog for its maiden compared to a seasoned performer?
A: Make sure the pup is well educated in fields before its first start.
7: Do you have a set routine for all your greyhounds or do you vary training for individual runners?
A: Training is definitely varied to suit individual runners. Some will work every day, while others need to be kept fresh. Training methods certainly vary depending on the competition distance. Free galloping a dog is an option and a change in routine if you have the facilities.
8: Do you have any unique or unusual methods you would like to share in regard to training?
A: Nothing out of the ordinary – just keep the dogs clean, well fed and happy.
9: Do you swim your dogs as part of your training regime?
10: How frequently do you like to race your dogs?
A: Short course, sometimes twice a week, and sprinters usually once a week.
11: What’s your training routine for dogs between races?
A: One gallop up the straight between 7 and 8-day races.
12: Do you do all muscle work on your dogs or do you use a professional muscle man?
A: Ian checks our race dogs and occasionally I will seek a second opinion from the local vet.
13: Do you do treat all injuries to your dogs yourself?
A: Injuries are mostly treated at home. Some injuries require veterinary consultation and treatment is carried out under their advice.
14: Which is the best greyhound you have trained?
A: Gold Ziva.
15: What do you consider is the best greyhound track in Australia and why?
A: Any one-turn track where dogs do not suffer interference in contrast to two-turn tracks where we have bend starts.
16: What does the industry need most going forward?
A: A one-turn track similar to the Gold Coast.
17: What is the best advice you could give someone just starting out as a trainer?
A: Do not be afraid to ask questions of trainers and others involved in the industry. Listen carefully and take the advice that best suits you and your training methods.