Peter married into great racing family

\"\"CAPTION: Trainer Peter Blake with Above The Rim, a winner of seven races. (Photo: Lachlan of Redden Photo Video)

By Gary Clark

PETER Blake had no idea he was also marrying into a famous racing bloodline when he tied the knot with wife Leonie back in 1979.

Peter (now 66) was introduced to Leonie (now 61) through friends in 1977 and two years later they were married.

Now, 42 years on, they have three children – Erin (28), Lisa (35) and Travis (38) – and four grandchildren – Kadence (8), Lane (5), Olivia (5) and Jacob (8).

Peter, who had no racing background, worked for 43 years with the Department of Main Roads building major highways. He finished up as a supervisor before retiring five years ago.

Racing was foreign to Peter before meeting Leonie but what he learned was that his wife was  from a real greyhound racing family.

“Her her dad was in greyhounds all his life which would have been around 50 years and so was his sister,” said Peter.

Leonie’s father was Matt Sternbeck and his sister is Joan Singline who was married to George, one of the most famous names in our sport in NSW, particularly in the Hunter Valley area.

Matt had a number of top class city dogs, including Gold Packet back in the 1960s, and his best was Space Play, a very good Harold Park dog  in the 1970s.

George and Joan owned the Singline straight and circle trial track and were both part of the sport for around seven decades. Many trainers relied upon that trial track to prepare their pups and racing dogs.

George and Joan also had great success on the track, especially with Footmark, one of their best Harold Park chasers.

George passed away a few years ago while Joan is still alive at the age of 94.

Leonie also has some very notable cousins from this family line, including Loraine Atchison, Noelene Hollaway and Carol Eaton.

Peter’s chance to enter the sport came along in 1978 when his future father-in-law Matt gave him a pup named El Graso Play (by Space Play).

“It was my first dog, Matt taught me the skills and I won with him at Singleton which was the first of five wins,” Peter recalled.

Peter then had a dog called Track Baron who had high potential but a mind of his own.

“He won one race at Wyong, giving them seven lengths start but then he led by a big space and waited for them,” Peter said.

Not long after that Peter contracted pneumonia and then in 1983 decided to take a long break away from the sport to start a family and raise his kids.

Peter was at a wedding in 2010 when his brother-in-law mentioned to him that he should take a share in a pup, which he did.

The dog was named Special Mention and was trained by Noel White,

“Noel couldn’t continue so I took over the training of the dog,” Peter said.

The dog won by six lengths at Gosford and five lengths at Richmond. Peter and Leonie kept him as a pet until he recently passed away at the age of 10.

Peter was now back in the sport and one day gave Leonie a surprise.

“When I came home one day Peter said he had been looking on the internet and found a 17-month-old dog to buy. I thought, go ahead,” Leonie said.

Peter did a deal with the owner of Above The Rim for a percentage of the prizemoney from the first and second wins only.

“I put five kilos on the dog and he was able to win his maiden at Gosford after a couple of starts,” Peter said.

The Turanza Bale x Kula Girl dog has now had 70 starts for seven wins, seven seconds and 15 thirds with those victories coming at Gosford (5) and one each at Richmond and Maitland. The dog has won $17,000 in prizemoney as virtually a giveaway.

The dog is raced under the “Rello’s Syndicate” because he is raced by all the relations in the family, including daughter Erin and son Travis.

It has been tough for the dog as he was continually out-graded early in his career but now is getting into the ‘Masters’ races.

Peter also one more young pup which he got as a giveaway from Victoria five months ago and named Unlawful Act. The Unlawful Entry x Lola’s Entity dog is now 22 months old and should be due to race in the next couple of months.

Living at Warnervale, Peter only has two dogs in training at any time and says that is comfortable for him. He has lived with diabetes for the past 15 years so the dog walking and playing golf is a great support to his condition.

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