This is why we love greyhound racing

Caption: Trainer Kim Shedden with owners Sean and Maricar Flood after Burnt Snags’ recent win at Ipswich (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

By Alex Nolan

WHENEVER life tries to bring Kim Shedden down it’s greyhounds that have picked him back up.

They provided company following the sudden loss of his beloved wife Maria.

They have been companions as he battled a recent cancer scare.  

And, they’ve helped him reconnect with long lost friends.

Now, Kim believes one greyhound can provide him with his greatest thrill in decades.

When Burnt Snags debuted in a Maiden at Ipswich on February 12, Kim said he’d never felt as confident about one of his dogs winning as he did that night.

A son of Kim’s beloved bitch Lightning Larico – who lives with him to this day – justified his trainer’s confidence with 25.26sec effort to win a Maiden by 4.25L, landing some big bets in the process.

“I believe he can become my first Thursday night winner at Albion Park in 26 years,” Kim said.

Kim and Maria loved racing greyhounds together.

Some of Kim’s most treasured memories are looking back up into the Ipswich grandstand to see Maria and their good friend, race caller John Brasch, sitting together between races.

Maria trained the last dog to be named Greyhound of the Year (2002-03) at Beenleigh, a short courser by the name of Not Human, who won 16 races and at one time held the first sectional record over 431m at Ipswich.  

“His speciality was the 340m at Beenleigh,” Shedden said.

“He won over 431m at Ipswich, but he needed to be three-lengths in front at the turn. If it was less than that, he had none.”

Kim and Maria stuck many wonderful friendships through greyhound racing, including that of Burnt Snags’ co-owner John ‘Sean’ Flood.

It was Sean who contacted Kim in the early 2000s via a mutual friend to ask whether he would train a greyhound for him called Budjet.

They struck up a strong friendship, but lost contact for over a decade before they were reconnected through Greyhound Racing Victoria.

“We saw that Sean was still a registered owner so we got in contact and got back together,” Kim said.

When Kim lost Maria suddenly in 2015, understandably, it hit him hard.

But he says it was greyhounds that kept him soldiering on.

“We loved the dogs and when Maria was alive we raced them together,” Kim said.

“Maria and I couldn’t have children so I don’t know what I’d be doing without the dogs, to be quite frank.”

Fortunately, Kim does still has plenty of support from family in New South Wales, and some terrific friends nearby who help with the greyhounds when he’s at work.

However, that network was taken away at the worst possible time last year.  

While the world waged its war with Covid-19 and the subsequent border closures and lockdowns associated with it, Kim was waging a mostly private battle with prostate cancer.

He credits persistent GP, Ling Zhang with saving his life.

“I was having some problems and the ultra-sound came back showing nothing, but my doctor said he wasn’t satisfied and sent me to a urologist who ordered an MRI and, sure enough, there it was sitting in my prostate,” Kim said.

Cut off from family in NSW, Kim commenced hormone therapy to treat his disease.

Few in greyhounds knew about the battle he faced.  

But one was John Brasch, who Kim admires as both a friend and professional.

“I absolutely love what he does and he deserves every ounce of positivity that comes his way because he has put everything into greyhound racing since he was a young man,” Kim said.

Brasch speaks equally highly of Kim, saying he was a ‘down to earth’ and ‘no bullshit’ kind of bloke.

Kim is confident he is winning the battle with cancer and is focussed on helping Burnt Snags develop into a city winner.

He had originally planned to start him in a Thusday night Novice, but despite his confidence in the dog’s ability, will allow him to develop a little longer at Ipswich.

Prior to the arrival of Burnt Snags, who races under the ownership of ‘The Lost Friends Syndicate’, Sean had sent a greyhound by the name of Turanza Tiger to Kim after he dropped a back muscle at his 16th start when trained in Victoria.

Kim had plenty of fun with Turanza Tiger, racing him until he was more than four-and-a-half years old and recording six more wins, including a Masters Fifth Grade at Albion Park at odds of $61.

He was thrilled that Sean was able to be at Ipswich for Burnt Snags’ maiden win and even more satisfied he was able to fill his pockets at the same time.

“He’s always shown me that he’s a little on the special side,” Kim said of Burnt Snags.

“I did consider the Vince Curry, but he damaged his metacarpal. John flew up for the race because I said I thought we could win one pretty quickly.

“I told him we’d be lucky to get $2.50 or $3 and he opened $4.50.

“He was backed into $3.30 on Friday but we woke up on Saturday and he was $5 again because they’d backed (Speed Badke) overnight.

“John kept merrily putting $500 on at a time and tipped it to his mates in New South Wales and Victoria. My nephew is in a cricket team on the Central Coast of New South Wales and I’m well informed the clubhouse roof lifted off at about 6.15pm that Saturday night.”

Kim will turn 65 in March and is well and truly focussed on the ups.

He is enjoying racing a pacer, Private Jujon, who took 89 starts to break his maiden and now boasts 12 wins from 192 starts, the latest coming on Australia Day at Redcliffe.

He holds a special place in his heart and home for Lightning Larico and hopes to receive approval to breed one more litter with her.

He is also forever grateful to his friends that stop by to help with the dogs while he works.

But his greatest tonic is the animal itself.   

“I’m actually extremely lucky, to be honest with you,” he said. “You deal with the ups and downs. Right now, I feel like I’ve got my life back.

“I’ve got a wonderful black dog giving me the biggest thrill I’ve had in years.

“He stops me feeling sad about myself in the sense that I lost my wife. “We were married 33 years and not being able to have children means I’ve been alone, but really I’m not, because I have great friends and these lovely animals to keep me well and truly popping.”

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