Caption: Trainer Renald Attard with his grand sprinter Frosty Jay Jay after winning the Publicans Cup at Albion Park in 2013.
By MICHAEL HILL
RENALD Attard has spent most his adult life – almost 50 years – with his beloved greyhounds.
But he admits he knew very little about the breed in the beginning.
As a 17-year-old apprentice fitter and turner living in Brisbane he loved racing and having the occasional bet.
“We were living in Darra at the time and there was a school with a large playground across the road,” he recalls.
“One day a guy had two dogs running around the grounds.
“I asked him: ‘What are they?’
“That was my first contact with greyhounds and there and then I decided I had to get one.
“The Gabba greyhounds were televised live in those days in the ’70s and Top Simbi was the star chaser.
“He was by Milimsimbi and I wanted a pup by that sire.”
Attard, now in his mid-60s, got his pup from breeder-owner-trainer Aube King, which he named Brotherani (pronounced Brother And I).
“I offered to help Aube with his dogs and I learned a lot from him,” he said.
“One of his good dogs at the time was Jo Gilhooley, winner of the 1976 Lord Mayor’s Cup.”
That same year, Renald – now 20 – and his brother Martin, 14 months older, began a partnership in the sport that continues today.
And success came quickly.
In fact, Brotherani won first-up in a maiden at Beenleigh, winning by 10 lengths, and their second dog, Jomarens Fancy, won seven of his first 10 starts before tragedy struck.
“He broke a wrist in a race mishap,” said Renald.
“He was pretty smart and could have been anything.”
The Attards have had some smart chasers over the years, but Renald considers Frosty Jay Jay (Knocka Norris-Slick Hannah) his best.
“He won the 2014 Group 2 Healesville Cup (350m) beating Paw Licking in track record time (18.81s),” he said.
“He was under the care of Kel Greenough during his Melbourne stint.”
After the Healesville success Attard said: “It’s just a really big thrill. I bred it, reared it, broke it in, did everything.
“I’ve had placings in derbies up here in Queensland with other dogs but that is my first Group winner.”
Earlier in his career, Frosty Jay Jay had run an ‘unlucky’ second to the Glenda Dart-prepared Ben’s House in the Flying Amy final at Albion Park.
“He should have won that race,” said Attard.
“He copped interference, but that’s greyhound racing.
“He also won the Publicans Cup at Albion Park in 2013 clocking 29.73s.”
The three-time Group finalist, who had a special connection with Attard, also recorded wins at Sandown Park (29.65s) and The Meadows (30.05s) in Melbourne.
They shared the same birthday.
“Frosty was born on my birthday, the 21st of June,” the trainer said, “and he showed a lot of promise from very early on in his career.
“When he started trialling as we broke him in, I kept saying this can’t be right, his times for a 14-month-old dog can’t be right. He was running records at that age.”
Frosty Jay Jay finished his career with an impressive 26 wins and 22 placings from 96 starts and amassed $119,881 in prizemoney.
The Attards, who operated out of their 26-acre complex at Fairney View, near Fernvale, west of Brisbane, try to breed two litters a year.
“We currently have 15 dogs in work with a couple of young ones yet to race,” said Renald.
He considers a litter from his top stayer of the ’90s, Karenmar, as one of his best.
“By Awesome McLaren, a litter brother to Token Prince, the litter of 12 won a total of 120 races between them,” Attard said.
“They were probably the best litter we have produced – they came from good stock.
“Karenmar was one of the top stayers in Brisbane during her career … she also qualified for the Sydney Cup final.
“She was a member of a smart litter (Credibility-Steel Mistress) I took down to Sydney in 1998.
“I took down six and they all won at Wenty (Wentworth Park) during a three-month stay there.
“Some of the others included Smokin’ Jelly and Bottomline Joe.
“Steel Mistress, who was our foundation brood bitch, won the Tweed Heads Stayers Cup on Galaxy day in 1992, while her litter brother Steel Magpie won the Queensland Sires Produce Series final at Ipswich.”
Other smart sprinters from the Attard kennels to perform over years include Too Many Bills, winner of the Capalaba Cup, and Barnacle Bob, successful in the Clem Jones Cup at Albion Park.
Attard is a four-time winner of the trainer’s premiership at Capalaba and the brothers were leading owners at Ipswich one year.
These days Martin stays at home looking after the team while Renald goes racing.
They currently have a promising youngster called Born To Lead (Zambora Brockie-Fyre Gal), a recent Albion Park winner over 395m that Renald thinks could develop into a smart sprinter, while a couple of Frosty Jay Jay’s offspring – Minnie Jojo (103:20-23-15; $49,150) and Red Fire Ball (53: 6-5-5; $30,283) have been consistent chasers for the team.
1: How and when did you get involved in greyhound racing?
A: Watching TV in 1975 when the Gabba races were televised live each week.
2: Who has been the greatest influence on you as a trainer?
A: Aube King and Top Simbi.
3: At what age do you start preparing a pup for racing?
A: We start teaching them when they are three months old.
4: How long does it take to prepare a pup for its first race?
A: Six months after breaking in.
5: What makes a good pup?
A: A good chaser.
6: Do you do anything special when preparing a young dog for its maiden compared to a seasoned performer?
A: We concentrate on trialling it at the track it is going to race at.
7: Do you have a set routine for all your greyhounds or do you vary training for individual runners?
A: Mostly free running and vary it for others.
8: Do you have any unique or unusual methods you would like to share in regard to training?
9: Do you swim your dogs as part of your training regime?
10: How frequently do you like to race your dogs?
A: Once a week on circles and straight races.
11: What’s your training routine for dogs between races?
A: Machining and free running.
12: Do you do all muscle work on your dogs or do you use a professional muscle man?
A: Yes I do my own dogs, if I need to I will go to the vet.
13: Do you do treat all injuries to your dogs yourself?
A: Yes, but we sometimes use vets.
14: Which is the best greyhound you have trained?
A: Frosty Jay Jay.
15: What do you consider is the best greyhound track in Australia and why?
A: Sandown, there is less interference.
16: What does the industry need most going forward?
A: A one-turn track.
17: What is the best advice you could give someone just starting out as a trainer?
A: Ask trainers for advice.