By TERRY WILSON
IT did not take long for last year’s Capalaba trainers premiership winner Terry Priest to reignite his straight track mojo.
Just three days into a new 2021 season, on January 3, Priest landed a quadrella over the 366m journey, an effort that signalled that the former New South Welshman is not going to let his premiership title go without a decent fight.
Last year Priest bolted in with the Capalaba premiership with 492 points, well ahead of runner-up Neil Catchpole (230) and Craig Cassidy (209).
It was simply the sheer weight of numbers that propelled Park Ridge-based Priest to the title.
Finding the bayside Brisbane straight track the ideal place to test his charges out, Priest had 285 starters there for 58 winners, 54 seconds and 44 third placegetters.
At all three south-east Queensland tracks, including Albion Park and Ipswich, Priest had 514 starters for 85 wins, 90 seconds and 69 thirds over the 2020 season.
Which sort of justified the Priest family’s decision to relocate from the Maitland area in the NSW Hunter Valley to Park Ridge in the south-western suburbs of Brisbane.
Flushed with the successes of 2020, Priest is now looking for a suitable property in the west of Ipswich to prepare for the new track at Purga, expected by 2023.
“I’d like to set up for the future with the new track coming,” said Priest.
“I’ve been renting for a year, but now I’m looking for a bit of land out the back of Ipswich.”
Asked to describe the move, Priest said it had its ups and downs.
“For instance I missed our 25th wedding anniversary and I missed my son’s 21st because I was up here and they were back at Maitland,” he said.
“It was an emotional year not being together but with covid my wife was barred from coming up here. We spent eight months apart because of the COVID.
“But moving here was the best thing we have ever done and I really believe Queensland racing is going ahead.”
Priest agreed that because he was not well known here in Queensland he sort of snuck up on the ranking, particularly at Capalaba which he describes as his ‘bread and butter’
“Obviously I had the most starters there, probably 100 more than anyone else.
“But I took a lot of dogs that weren’t probably going to go around the circle and ran them up the straight.
“I like the straight because you can back your dogs up. They don’t get as injured as much as they do on the circle.”
Priest credits his 19-year-old son, Josh, as the rock of his operation.
“There is no word to describe the amount of work he puts in. He is my right hand man,” said the proud father, who is now 53 and who finished in the top five a couple of times at Maitland in the trainers premiership.
“And please mention my cousin Joanne who is among a lot of people who put in and help out.”
It was straight track racing that produced Priest’s first winner as a trainer. It was in 1994 and the bitch was named Arratap which won up the Wyong straight dash in 1994.
Priest said the win was worth $180, so it is significant to note that first money at Capalaba these days is more than $1000.
Priest’s quadrella back on January 3 comprised Impatient Girl, Impatient Jane, Your Honour and Duke’s Rocket.
It was Priest’s best winning effort at a single race meet although last year he had five winners on the same day/night – three at Capalaba and two at Albion Park.
Meanwhile, ever-popular and hard-working Capalaba track manager Erin Cameron was tickled pink to win the women’s trainers premiership despite having only three dogs in her kennels. She finished seventh in the overall trainers points score.
And the Jamie Hoskins trained Columbian King was named Greyhound of the Year (89 points), edging out Raised By Wolves (75) for the title.