Rob’s stories would make a best-seller

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CAPTION: Darryl Holmes with Curator, a recent winner at Sandown for Rob Le Sueur. Co-vid restrictions forced Rob to stay in NSW, leaving the chaser in Darryl’s capable hands.

By DAVID BRASCH

LONG-time Victorian dog man Rob Le Sueur reckons he and a few mates could sit down together and write a book about racing and their experiences in all three codes – and he guarantees it would be a best seller.

\”Trouble is,\” said Rob. \”We probably can\’t write most of the things in racing we have seen and been part of.\”

Rob turned 67 during August and these days he\’s \”semi-retired\” to a house block in Mulwala three hours north of Melbourne.

His life in racing has encompassed so many diverse aspects.

He\’s been training since he was 14, been a bookies clerk for the late, great Graeme Sampieri for 45 years, and worked the trials and races as starter four days a week at The Meadows for almost two decades.

And that doesn\’t include the fact his brother Bill was one of Victoria\’s leading harness drivers for many, many years in an era of some of the greats of that industry.

\”I was born in Braybrook in Victoria, worked as a fitter and turner for the state government for 19 years, and then did maintenance at nursing homes,\” he said.

\”My mum Ada came from a family involved in greyhound racing. Her dad, then 55, was killed by a greyhound free galloping in a paddock. The dog hit him, knocked him over and he died from a brain injury within five hours.

\”My dad Ben was a bookies clerk and he was known to accept an occasional bet himself.\”

That led Rob to link with Graeme Sampieri.

\”I worked for Graeme for 45 years,\” said Rob. \”In the early days, we would field at Olympic Park on a Monday, Geelong of Tuesday, Ballarat on Wednesday, Sandown on Thursday and Saturday it was the horses wherever the meeting was and that night the trots.

\”Graeme was very good to me. We never had an argument in all those years.\”

Sampieri died in 2018.

\”The funniest incident I ever saw was at Sandown one night,\” said Rob. \”Graeme wouldn\’t let some punter on. The bloke had a hot dog with mustard in his hand and flung it at Graeme hitting him under the chin. Graeme never flinched.

\”Graeme got the guy\’s money and his hot dog as well.\”

Greyhounds came into Rob\’s life at 14.

\”I started training at 14, won my first race at 16 with Andrew\’s Banner at Geelong. My brother Bill drove his first winner at the Showgrounds when he was 16.

\”I had pictures of both wins in my previous home for decades.\”

While Rob was training at 14, he was only licensed at 17.

\”I suppose they knew by then I was training the dogs myself and that\’s when I officially got an owner-trainer\’s license.\”

His first city winner came at 17 with Glenfern Lilly.

\”Bill was driving in an era dominated by Brian Gath, Teddy Demmler, Nev Welsh,\” said Rob. \”So he had to be pretty good to compete. He has long since given up training and driving but still lives on the same property in country Victoria.

\”He and his wife run a bed and breakfast on the place but provide a halfway stop for companies transporting horses. That great racehorse, The Cleaner, was prepared at the place for races in Victoria.\”

Rob has had some \”pretty smart dogs\” over the years and has never been afraid to trip around with them.

\”Anticipation won nine of 10 starts at one stage, and I took High Signal to Toowoomba and he beat the great Kirsty\’s First,\” he said. \”Gave her a star and a beating and anyone who remembers Kirsty\’s First will know that was no mean feat.

\”Over the years I\’ve had about 20 Group finalists but never won one.

\”Roger Green stayed with me when he brought Roanokee down to Victoria to win the Melbourne Cup.

\”And, I took Cape Bruny to the Northern Rivers to win the Tweed Galaxy.\”

A decade ago, Rob bought a property at Mulwala.

\”I\’ve been a great fishing fan all my life and I wanted to be somewhere on the Murray where I could go fishing when I wanted but was still able to train my dogs,\” he said.

\”I moved up here to Mulwala about six years ago.\”

He and Darryl Holmes, one of the sports great breeders/trainers, have been great friends for decades.

\”I\’ve known Darryl for 40 years in the early days just to say gidday, but now we have a deal going for the dogs,\” said Rob. \”Darryl whelps the litters with my bitches, I pay the service fee, we split them and send them to Tony Apap in Queensland to rear.

\”We sent a Bernardo-Gold Vein litter there recently. I like them a lot.\”

Considering his time running the trials and as starter at The Meadows, his 45 years as a bookies clerk, and a lifetime training, Rob says he \”knows everyone\”.

\”In the early days there were a lot of scallywags in this industry,\” he said. \”That\’s what I mean about writing a book on some of them and the things they got up to.

\”Today, the buzz has gone out of the game.

\”You would go to the track where there would be 30 to 40 bookies and the place was full of people. It was buzzing.

\”Today, all the punting is done at home and all anyone does these days is race for prizemoney. They don\’t need to have a bet.\”

Rob says legends Temlee and Brett Lee are the best dogs he has seen and Graham Bate the best trainer.

\”In the good old days, there were never a lot of big kennels,\” he said. \”And, even today there are great dog trainers with only one or two dogs in their kennel. Backyarders could be as good if not better than the stars of the game.\”

Rob says betting plunges were all part of the industry when he was growing up.

\”We had a dog called Scotland\’s Pride,\” he said. \”He was owned by John Abbot the owner of the Bottle And Barrels pub in Geelong.

\”We set the dog up at Geelong and he won. John Abbot won enough to pay for a drive through bottle shop to be built at the pub. It was massive.\”

Greyhound racing, says Rob, has been a lot of fun.

He is mine of stories, punting, great dogs and some not so great.

\”I was driving somewhere ages ago with Peter Giles that great, great trainer from out Moe way,\” said Rob. \”We could not stop telling old stories. It was hilarious.\”

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