Caption: Jubilant Sky Racing presenter Jason Lincoln can’t resist planting a kiss on Tony Brett after the champion trainer’s chaser Orchestrate completed a big night for both men at  Albion Park recently. (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

Albion Park wrap by PAT McLEOD

Sky Racing’s greyhound doyen Jason Lincoln was having his ‘Let It Ride’ moment.

(Let It Ride, starring Richard Dreyfuss, is the one movie every punter must see.)   

Lincoln’s version took place recently at Albion Park on Group One heats night. His back story involves growing up in a greyhound racing family and being mesmerized by the betting ring and the antics of the punters.

But I’ll let him tell the story:

“Back then, I loved the betting ring, it was the heartbeat of the track. I would sit at the edge of the ring and just watch all the activity.

“I was constantly amazed by these people running around with all this money, pulling off plunges. With social media and online betting, we have lost a lot of that atmosphere and, to a degree, I feel sorry for the younger punters of today.

“These days, I don’t get too excited by the punt, to be honest, because I did it for a living for a while and that takes the fun out of it.

“On this particular night I had been through the form and I thought Tony Brett’s Orchestrate was a good thing. Sometimes, when you don’t have a big tank, you have to piece a few things together, some multies and try to get a lot with a little bit.

“On that night I pieced together probably seven multies and if they all came together it was going to be a tick over a five-figure for an outlay of about $470.

“Leading into Orchestrate’s race, all first six legs were in and I think Tony Brett was also four from four on the night.

“But of course the mentality of the punter is that this just can’t keep going. So, I was keeping it pretty light on air and my style, on or off camera, is not the polished guy. I like to talk to you on air as though we were talking at the pub – as though you have asked me for an opinion, and I’m going to give it to you.

“I remember saying that if Tony Brett wins this he will need a security guard to get past me.

“And that is how it played out. The dog went to the front and didn’t look like getting beaten. (I was pretty happy and, knowing Tony pretty well, I thought I could get a little bit of leeway with him. So as he came past I just grabbed him and planted a big one on his cheek.

“That moment captures a little bit of the emotion of greyhound racing – a couple of blokes playing silly buggers.

“It was exactly like the movie, Let It Ride, where a bloke just has a great day on the punt.”

Familiar turf for legal eagle

He many not have backed the winner, but one of Queensland’s top legal minds, Michael Byrne QC, was rapt with Race 5 at Albion Park on July 7, Group 1 night.

Byrne is not only a highly respected ‘legal eagle’ in the Sunshine State and the current President of the Parole Board Qld, but is also a great supporter of the greyhound industry. He is a former long-serving president of the Brisbane club, former chairman of the Queensland Greyhound Racing Board and is still involved as an owner.

However in early July he was back at ‘The Creek’ as a proud son. Race five was in honour of his father – the Mick Byrne Memorial Novice.

“Dad was a massive character, anyone will tell you that,” Byrne reflected on the night.

“He was in racing all his life, initially horse racing. When night greyhound racing started at The Gabba, he was invited to that first meeting.

“Within a matter of a year or two he was on the Gabba committee. I was at school and I came along 50 years ago to that first night meeting, on the 6th of April 1972. And really enjoyed it.”

Mick Byrne Snr went on to become president of the Brisbane club and is still regarded as one of the club’s most loved administrators – hence the memorial night.

For Byrne Jnr, who followed in his dad’s footsteps as a high-ranking club official the memorial night was ‘special’.

“I am so pleased that the club supports these types of races and that they still are going on,” he said. “To have it on a multiple Group One night is just fabulous.

“Because of Dad I have always been involved in greyhound racing and have always loved it. It is just exceptional to have so many people here for the memorial race.

“The sport has changed so much in recent times. The bar has been raised. Just speaking in relation to the Brisbane club, (CEO) Luke Gatehouse has just been a success story and this club is going from strength to strength.”

Byrne is currently racing a couple of dogs, including Umagico (Sandra Hunt), who has three wins and six placings from  39 starts. He also has a litter of Aston Dee Bee pups that are about eight months old.

Northern NSW trainer Michael Lalicz was successful with Rapid Ripple in the Mick Byrne Memorial. Michael bought his property from highly respected industry training icon Steve Kavanagh several years ago and considers Kavanagh a valuable mentor.   

“It is a pleasure to be involved in a race like this that has been around for along time,” he said. “And it is an even bigger pleasure to win it and to have the quality of dog to be able to turn up and

perform is a big thrill for me.

“It’s a team effort … my wife Trish does a fantastic job with the dogs.

“She does everything when I’m away racing or trialling.  

“We have 32 dogs on the property – racers and pups – and I rely on her a lot.
“She looks after the day-to-day running of the operation and she is hands-on with all the pups.

“Trish has also benefited from Steve’s (Kavanagh) wealth of experience when it comes to whelping and rearing puppies.

“We have several litters on the ground and Ripple Rumble, mother of Rapid Ripple, is only days away from having a litter to Jungle Deuce. 
“I can’t stress enough Steve’s influence on me as a trainer and breeder over the past decade.”

Unfortunately Michael Byrne wasn’t on Rapid Ripple. He was on early favourite Bartel Hayze, who is in the Sandra Hunt kennel.

Golfing star has greyhound pedigree 

AUSSIES throughout the world celebrated with Queenslander Cameron Smith when the superstar golfer won the 150th British Open mid-July.

A product of Wantima golf course, on Brisbane’s Northern Suburbs, Cam’s total of 20-under par is the lowest winning score in an Open at St Andrews, bettering the performance of Tiger Woods, who won with 19-under in 2000.

And in the process, Cam became just the third Australian to win The Open at the home of golf, after Peter Thomson in 1955 and Kel Nagle in 1960.

He is the first Aussie to win the Open Championship since greg Norman in 1993.

The Wantima boy headed to the USA to play the PGA tour in 2014 and has since earned $28 million.

So, what does that have to do with greyhound racing?

Cam’s father is Des Smith whose mum Carol was a greyhound trainer for decades.

Cam’s mum is Sharon whose father John Hillier was another who managed his way around greyhound tracks for many years.

Both are as proud of Cameron and his golfing deeds as grandparents can be.

Cameron has been hitting golf balls since he was two.

“When he was five, I took him out for a nine-hole game and Cameron beat me by 10 shots,” said Hillier.

“I’m no golfer, but remember he was five. On my way home I stopped in at Cash Converters and sold my clubs.

“He’s got ice in his veins,” said John. “No wonder he can play golf.”

Maybe it’s his pedigree! – By DAVD BRASCH

Queenslander! The Maroons are back

Queensland’s TAB Origin Greyhound team has followed in the footsteps of their rugby league counterparts to deliver a famous series victory for the home state at Albion Park recently.

In the same mould as Queensland’s rugby league heroes, the home side claimed the opener when Days Of Thunder scored a well-earned victory in the Origin Distance over 710 metres for trainer Warren Nicholls.

New South Wales squared the ledger through warm favourite Good Odds Cash with a dominant victory in the Origin Sprint over 520 metres.

It set up a mouth-watering decider between Shipwreck and star New South Wales chaser Zipping Kyrgios, where the local hope had been heavily backed to win in the preceding 24 hours.

A healthy crowd at Albion Park roared as Shipwreck matched motors with Zipping Kyrgios in the early stages then endured a tough run to his outside throughout.

But, the Ned Snow-trained son of Out Of Range’s strength came to the fore late as he stormed clear to win in 29.69 seconds.

The win saw Queensland victorious for the first time since the inaugural series in 2018, with rugby league great and celebrity coach Ben Hannant on hand to raise the shield in celebration.  

A proud Queenslander, Snow said helping deliver his state an Origin series win was a memorable moment.

“They told me if the other bloke led, I wouldn’t get him, when the other bloke pulled away I thought ‘we’ll see here’ but he was so strong,” Snow said.

The win reaffirmed what Snow already knew about this year’s Vince Curry Memorial Maiden winner – that he’s a special conveyance – and has given him the confidence to cast his eye further south.

“We might go down for the Million Dollar Chase now,” he said.

“We’ll give him a couple of trials down there first and see what happens.”

Days Of Thunder’s trainer Nicholls was equally thrilled to be part of the series, as his diminutive stayer stormed home to claim the Distance race.

It was redemption for Days Of Thunder, who came within a half-length of a famous last-to-first win in the Group 1 Queensland Cup at Albion Park.

Settling closer than she had in recent times, Days Of Thunder was forced to weave a passage to the inside of gun NSW stayers Zipping Kansas and Super Estrella.

Once clear, her late strength was on full display and she cleared out to score by two lengths in 41.85 seconds.

“I think she’s deserved it after last week, it was a more than fair effort,” Nicholls said.

“On the home turn there was a road-block there, but I was happy knowing she had settled closer.” – By Racing Qld’s Alex Nolan