By MIKE HILL
ALTHOUGH she is one of the new faces to join the Townsville greyhound training ranks, Alisha Newnham is no stranger to the sport.
She\’s been helping her grandmother, Townsville trainer Joan Newnham, for about a decade.
\”Grandma has been in it (training) since the early 2000s,\” Alisha said.
\”I used to love going to her house and seeing the dogs when I was young. I was about five or six and I would help her around the kennels.\”
Alisha is still helping her grandma, but now it\’s in a professional way.
She was granted her trainer\’s licence late last year and she experienced the thrill of training her first winner a few months back.
\”It was very exciting,\” recalled Alisha, who celebrated her 25th birthday last month.
She was successful with her first and only dog in work – Dr. Iris.
\”I didn\’t know she had won at the time,\” she said. \”I was standing at the 380m boxes and you couldn\’t see the finish clearly.
\”I thought Shady Shady (second) had actually won and I was thrilled when Joe Dyer (race caller) said Dr. Iris was the winner. It was a great feeling.
\”I didn\’t expect her to win from box five. It was exciting.\”
Alisha gained her handler\’s licence in her early teens, helping her grandma for several years before \’going away for a year or two\’ when she was 17.
Now back living with her grandmother at their Alligator Creek base, she is kept busy with a group of race dogs as well as two litters of pups.
\”I have Dr. Iris and I help grandma with her dogs,\” she said. \”I also have a pup from each litter – one is 18 months old, the other is 11 months old.
\”I am also on the lookout for another dog to train.\”
Alisha experienced \’big-time\’ success in early 2019 when Joan\’s smart chaser Dalmatynski brilliantly won the $12,000 Country Cup (520m) at Albion Park.
Because of health reasons, Joan couldn\’t travel to Brisbane so Alisha became caretaker trainer.
After the win Alisha said: \”It\’s an amazing achievement for her (grandma) to win a race like this. She puts so much into her dogs. She\’s won a couple of feature races in Townsville, but nothing big like this.\”
The young trainer said she \’loves the dogs and it\’s something she can see herself doing for a long time\’.
She said Dr. Iris had been a bit luckless in some recent runs and had suffered a couple of minor injuries.
\”I\’d like to step her up to the 498m in coming weeks,\” Alisha said.
\”She showed me something at her first trial over the distance the other day. I was happy with her time and I think she might be a bit more suited to the longer trip.\”
The young trainer admitted that \’I am learning as I go\’.
\”Training greyhounds is a trial and error process,\” she said. \”You\’re learning all the time and I love it, although it does have its disappointments.
\”You can put in all the hard work and then in a race cop a rough result – that\’s racing.
\”You just hope for better next week.\”
Alisha said the sport was very lucky that it had been able to continue racing through the current health crisis.
In her case, she\’s doubly lucky because last month she returned to her job at the Cowboys Leagues Club after the club reopened following the COVID-19 lockdown.