By KEL GREENOUGH
MY father-in-law has a saying that greyhound training is exactly like milking cows – am and pm, every single day, it never stops, there is never a day off.
How right he is and when I am approached by anyone wanting to get into greyhound racing as a trainer, this is the first piece of advice I give them. Don\’t expect to be like Gai Waterhouse, who has strappers and a foreman to take the horses back to the stables, feed them and care for them while Gai heads out to celebrate with her owners.
Hands-on greyhound training is exactly what that says.
But, having written that, I NEVER want to scare off anyone who is seriously contemplating racing greyhounds. It can be a fabulously rewarding experience.
In recent times, in co-operation with breeders Tyrone Whittington and Greg Sprod, we have developed a thriving business of supplying ready-made race dogs throughout the country and even to New Zealand.
And with that in mind, I will tell you just what you can expect when buying these dogs.
In fact, this operation probably sells more greyhounds than any other in the country.
Tyrone and Greg breed about 20 litters a year. They are reared at the Hallinan property in NSW and educated by the same complex so we get an ideal guide, and similar guide, to all their early prospects.
They come to us about 14 months of age and it is up to us to prepare them for racing and ultimately for sale, generally over the next six months. Their ability will obviously determine their sale price.
This operation was brought about because Tyrone and Greg were finding themselves accumulating a lot of dogs. They are passionate about greyhound racing, but also see it as a business.
We have built up such a reputation throughout the country and New Zealand that we constantly get repeat buyers.
The Kiwis love getting dogs from us and are happy to take ‘the funny dogs’ they know will adapt to the finish-on lure that is used there all the time.
Generally the dogs we prepare can be bought for around the $20,000 mark.
What you can expect for that is a dog that will be good enough to win fifth grades at Sandown and the Meadows and obviously then go to country tracks and be very competitive.
A dog of this calibre can confidently be expected to earn around $30,000 to $40,000.
This calibre of dog will have some limitations of course. They may not be quick early and just get 500 metres.
These dogs should provide their new owners with a lot of fun over a couple of years of racing. And, let\’s be honest, that\’s is what we are in greyhound racing for. We are buying memories.
Our operation is unlike most others who are trying to sell greyhounds.
In those instances, most dogs are being sold because they have a problem, and let\’s face it … who wants to buy problem dogs. People can and do get caught out buying these sort of dogs.
We find most of our buyers are keen to get dogs BEFORE they race. They want to get in on the ground floor and win half a dozen races quickly to help pay for the purchase. They want to get their money back early.
Yes, we have had a few that have not turned out and Tyrone and Greg are quick to replace those dogs.
Our preparation of these youngsters from 14 months is based initially at Sandown and then on to Warragul. We do most of the work at Sandown, but will also vary it to The Meadows.
The pups will be given a slip at Sandown and we get a first split time. This first slip shows us if we need more time in the bullring etc to get them chasing.
Eventually they will have two or three post to back slips, then three box to box trials. We are getting race night times by this.
After that we move on to Warragul where they are put over 400m. By that time we can fairly accurately predict the future of a dog.
For instance, a 400m race night average time at Warragul is about 22.60, a bit like a 25.10 431m trial at Ipswich.
We have had really smart youngsters trial 22.30. Some, which will be tier dogs in Victoria, will not break 23.00.
In our current crop, two trialled 22.20 first look at Warragul and their sale price will be $40,000 plus.
One of those has not a lot of early pace but could still develop into a Group class dog of the future. The asking price for a dog like that will be $30,000 plus.
There is also a bitch among this crop who is bred on very stout staying lines. She went 22.40 first time at Warragul and will probably be sold for $25,000.
Her mother won $100,000 on the track and was a fine stayer. This bitch could be much the same.
We have found most of our clients are happy to pay $20,000 for a youngster depending on their trial reports. Most will not go to $40,000.
But, we recently sold two very smart litter brothers in a package deal for $60,000 to Tassie and they are much too good to go there.
Because of the sheer numbers Tyrone and Greg breed each year, and the fact we cannot cope with ALL of them through our system, some are falling through the cracks.
In fact, a few have been sold very cheaply to Townsville and since come back to be city class in Victoria. However, we are working to close those loopholes.
One of our recent sales was classy Queensland-based bitch Crazy Cool.
She had trialled the fastest time for the year at Cranbourne over the shorts. Her first trial at Warragul was 22.70 and we decided to accept the offer to buy her.
I was very tempted to buy her myself.
Another to go through our system was Group star Bobby The Brute.
So, you see, there is a very simple way into greyhound racing. Our operation is proving very successful and we just have to keep selling.