Caption: Maureen Russell is very much hands-on at her family’s property, organising the dogs’ food and cleaning the kennels.
(Each month Chase puts the spotlight on a person and/or their ‘best friend’ – a story that gives an insight into the true heart of greyhound racing. It showcases all that is good in this sport and is a monthly tribute to much-loved greyhound identity Daryl ‘Albert’ Gleeson)
By David Brasch
COME 5.30 every morning, 82-year-old Maureen Russell is out of bed, dressed and ready to go.
She\’s got dogs to do; the 30 or more race dogs, pups and retirees on the 50-acre property she and husband Barry, 85, set up 27 years ago at Innisplain out Beaudesert way.
Maureen\’s son Darren might be the public face of the kennel, but there\’s no doubt Maureen is still a driving force.
The first thing she does after the alarm goes at 5.30am is drag Darren out of bed to get him started on the chores as well.
\”Before I even get dressed Mum is out at the kennels letting the race dogs out,\” Darren said. \”That\’s the start of her chores for the day.\”
That devotion to duty has been Maureen Russell\’s lot since the family moved to Innisplain from Balmain in Sydney to give greyhound racing a \”fair dinkum go\”.
Great race names like Group class Tears Of Jupiter, Tripum, Something Wild, Que, Fab Fit, Snug and Bago Bye Bye have thrust the Russell training empire to the forefront.
Maureen has been part and parcel of every single day in the preparation of those stars and the numerous city winners that have come from the kennel.
But, at 82, she will be the first to admit her daily duties have scaled down just a little.
\”We don\’t let her drive the lure and catch when we put dogs up the straight any more,\” Darren said. \”She had to stop that about six months ago.
\”Mum has been driving the lure up our straight track for the 27 years we have been here.
\”But, just lately we haven\’t been able to get anyone to catch the dogs in the pen. They are a bit too hard for her to handle.
\”We tried the other way: getting Mum to let them go at the bottom of the straight, but that was a bit difficult as well.\”
Darren now heads to Capalaba a couple of times a week for straight work.
But Maureen is still kept busy every day.
\”She makes up all the feeds for every dog on the place, and cleans out the kennels every day as well,\” Darren said.
Maureen\’s husband and Darren\’s father Barry, 85, has the first stages of dementia but still lends a hand in the kennels when able. \”We call Barry the afternoon shift,\” Darren said.
These days Maureen and Barry don\’t get to the races anywhere near as much as they once did.
\”They never missed a race meeting when we had runners,\” Darren said. \”They loved going. But for the past four or five years that hasn\’t happened much.
\”Where we would be without Mum helping out every single day?
\”Mum has been head trainer forever. She\’s as fit and healthy as ever.\”