By MIKE HILL
THIS month we feature country Queensland trainer Louise Cameron in our The Trainer column.
Cameron has just completed a highly successful year, winning the Bundaberg trainer-of-the-year title – for the second time.
And her kennel star Cambla Lala just failed in the greyhound-of-the-year award, finishing one point behind winner, the Marie Richards-trained, David Plummer-owned sprinter Foxy Fireball.
An unfortunate injury forced Cambla Lala to miss the last meeting of the year and victory in the final event of 2018 gave the title to Foxy Fireball by the narrowest of margins.
It was a disappointing result for Cameron, who had experienced a similar result with Cambla Lala’s mother Cambla Girl a few years back.
“Cambla Girl was injured on Christmas Day in 2013 and missed the final meeting of that year – she also finished one point behind the GOTY winner.
The highlight of 2018 for Cameron was her winning quartet at Bundaberg in mid-October.
It was the first time she had rugged up four winners at a meeting and she did it with members of the same Glen Gallon-Cambla Girl litter.
“It was a complete surprise,” Cameron, who has been training a bit over a decade, said at the time.
“I was over the moon.
“I definitely didn’t expect to come away with four winners.
“I was thinking maybe one was possible.”
Cameron and partner Steve Bland have 14 dogs in work on their 20-acre property at Goodwood, between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.
She said although she only started training about 12 years ago, she had been around greyhounds a large part of her life.
“My grandfather trained greyhounds in Grafton and my parents had them on the Gold Coast,” she said.
“I had no intentions of training dogs, but a serious car accident 12 years ago changed all that.”
Cameron badly damaged her back and walking became an important part of her rehab.
She said a neighbour, who had greyhounds, gave her a dog to help with her recovery.
“That dog was Mosieur Noir,” she said.
And so began Cameron’s love affair with greyhounds.
1: How and when did you get involved in greyhound racing?
A: About 12 years ago – took a giveaway dog to help with personal rehab after a car accident.
2: Who has been the greatest influence on you as a trainer?
A: Mr A Kelly – an old timer who has tried to teach me how to assess my dogs for possible soreness and injury.
3: At what age do you start preparing a pup for racing?
A: At birth with good nutrition and basic leading etc. but it turns serious at 12 months.
4: How long does it take to prepare a pup for its first race?
A: It takes about six months.
5: What makes a good pup?
A: Natural ability, keen to learn and some smarts.
6: Do you do anything special when preparing a young dog for its maiden compared to a seasoned performer?
A: I try to make everything about the track exciting so they are keen to be there.
7: Do you have a set routine for all your greyhounds or do you vary training for individual runners?
A: Set routine with tweaks for individuals.
8: Do you have any unique or unusual methods you would like to share in regard to training?
A: I am a hobby trainer, so I ‘over baby’ my dogs (fur children).
9: Do you swim your dogs as part of your training regime?
10: How frequently do you like to race your dogs?
A: Weekly depending on soundness.
11: What’s your training routine for dogs between races?
A: Swim or spa day after racing, check the dog on day two for injuries etc, free runs day three and four – walking machine day five, swim day five or six.
12: Do you do all muscle work on your dogs or do you use a professional muscle man?
A: With a number of dogs I try to check them myself but any I think may have issues or are just not performing I take to a professional.
13: Do you do treat all injuries to your dogs yourself?
A: When possible, however, I have an amazing ‘call anytime nothings a problem vet’ that is a real blessing.
14: Which is the best greyhound you have trained?
A: All my greyhounds are great, again I am only a hobby trainer and am here for the love of my dogs and the enjoyment we both get from racing. As long as each dog performs to the best of its ability and is enjoying life then I have trained the BEST greyhound.
15: What do you consider is the best greyhound track in Australia and why?
A: Bundaberg … my home track. It’s the last grass circle track in Queensland – fantastic weather, great facilities unfortunately handicapped by lack of support from the racing public as it does not enjoy TAB status at this point of time and therefore not supported by the local council. TAB status would relieve some of the financial pressures and would allow the club to attract local sponsors through advertising which would in turn, pressure the local council to support the industry and stakeholders.
16: What does the industry need most going forward?
A: Racing greyhounds to be recognised as racing stock (as is with harness and gallops) … I can only speak for Qld – which requires fairness across the state, all tracks to be TAB, support from RQ and QRIC for trainers/owners with local councils.
17: What is the best advice you could give someone just starting out as a trainer?
A: Be in it for the right reasons, enjoy the learning experience as you go and take a deep breath, everyone has an opinion. Take in what you need and just let go of the rest, you just do your best. Winning is a bonus, watching your dog go around and come off thinking it’s a winner no matter where it came is the true joy.