Caption: Mark Moroney with Fire Legend after victory in the 2020 Group 2 Lismore Gold Cup (Photos: Box 1 Photography)
Column – So You Want To Buy A Greyhound
By MARK MORONEY
WHEN I was asked to write this article for Chase magazine I thought about the current state of greyhound racing in Australia.
Greyhound racing is charging ahead and in recent years there has been a significant change in the industry.
Pup prices have risen, it’s almost impossible to buy a tried dog, and the prizemoney is so good now that this is the result.
And people are wanting to get into greyhound racing.
With the amount of prizemoney available today, no one is going to sell you a good dog. There are several millionaires among the best dogs we’ve seen. That’s how good prizemoney is today.
Pup prices have gone up and those pups are worth it considering their opportunity to win great stakes. I know the pups we have bred in recent times, the prices we had on them and the numbers we could have sold. It’s amazing.
I’m 60 and am settled into semi-retirement in Grafton with a small team.
My Dad and Mum were both from greyhound racing families. I started work as a roof tiler when I left school at 15 and got my first dog straight away. I named her Salina Babe and she won seven races.
But, I made a rule for myself many years ago and I have stuck by it religiously. And with that rule came continued success. It is the very first rule I tell anyone who asks me about getting into greyhounds.
That rule is to only buy pups from a city winning bitch, or one that has already produced city winners. It changed my life in greyhounds giving me success.
Even as a young bloke it didn’t take me long to notice that everyone who had good race dogs had a good broodbitch behind them.
My first break came in 1995 when I got to spend time with Graham Bate in Victoria. He taught me so much about life and everything about training greyhounds.
From that stint with Graham, I bought a Fire Cape-Tanga Park bitch I named Fire Crisis. She was a sister to Sydney Cup winner Fire Lad and Stoke The Fire who was second in the Adelaide Cup.
Fire Crisis had bad arthritis in a wrist but she could run. We would get three or four starts out of her and need to give her a good spell. Eventually, between those spells we got litters out of her. In fact, she won a heat of the Damsels Dash at Sandown coming back from having her third litter of pups.
It has been a wonderful damline that I have stuck to ever since and it has provided me with very good race dogs for decades. I’ve never needed to buy into other lines since.
This is the first bit of advice I would have for anyone asking me about getting into greyhounds.
We hear all the time that it is impossible to buy into the best damlines. I don’t agree. We breed a couple of litters a year and can’t keep them all. So we sell off pups from those litters.
Our most recent litters have been out of Fire On Ice (22 wins, $95,000) and Sweet Fire All (9 wins, $29,000), both of them city winners, Fire On Ice being a Group performer. Their mother Tick Away Fire won five at Wenty.
We had to sell some of their pups.
If it came down to keeping a potential broodbitch and choosing between a couple in the litter, I will always go with the city winner to keep to breed with ourselves. I will then lease out the other bitch for a pup or two.
In regards to temperament of potential broodbitches, it never bothers me because I want to breed with the city winners … as long as they have a good family behind them.
Our rearing process is to keep the pups until they are four months giving them the best of everything we can – beef, kibble, milk, calcium. Then they go to Chris Kedwell at Cessnock to rear and he does a fabulous job. He has reared for us for the past 12 years and we’ve had Group success.
My advice to newcomers is to buy a very well bred pup as entry to this industry.
If you buy a $300 pup or a $3000 pup, what is the difference by the time they get to the racetrack … the initial outlay. But the difference in potential can be staggering.
My training routine has changed since we moved to Grafton.
We always free-galloped our race dogs because I find it keeps them fitter and you get fewer injuries. But, since moving to Grafton I have had to revert to walking them three kilometres each morning. I must admit it has not affected them at all the change in morning routine.
But I will always give my race dog a slip or two in between races. This is a must. I’ve been galloping them up the straight of the racecourse between the 1700m and 1400m marks.
My feeding routine is very basic: meat, Bonnie Working Dog Kibble and one Rapidvite Aminovite GB as a multivitamin. Of a morning they get a slice of wholemeal bread.
That’s what Graham Bate taught me all those years ago … keep it simple.
Fire On Ice, a 23 kilo bitch, got 550gms of meat and 220gms of kibble each night, while her brother Fire Legend a 30kg dog got 750gms of meat and the same amount of kibble.
Free-galloping is a fabulous way to exercise greyhounds.
Graham Bate taught me that and he admits to stumbling on the idea. He was given Ibrox, his first great dog, because she was not showing much. He put her in his paddock and she started running up and down all the time.
She started to fly. Graham decided to let his dogs run … every day.
And he has taught that to so many of today’s great trainers.
Other advice for newcomers centres on listening to people in the industry. But newcomers should not listen to everyone, only those who have been successful.
It is the same for getting dogs checked out for injuries. There are plenty of people who offer that service, but take your time in finding the best for you.
Listening to successful people is the best piece of advice. Group trainers like Jason Mackay are encyclopaedias of knowledge about greyhounds. They rarely, if ever, do anything wrong in preparing their dogs.
Newcomers can get too excited about having a dog to race. Some race their dogs far too much. I’ve only ever been one who races the most once a week. You should never race a dog into the ground.