By BEN ENGLUND
I’m 36 and I have been brought up with greyhounds almost all my life, except for a brief few years my dad Tom decided to have a break.
That lifetime involvement has taught me to rely on a number of aspects in the industry in a bid to be successful and they are things I always try to impart upon anyone approaching me with the thought of getting into greyhound racing.
My dad and I run our own business on the North West coast of Tasmania and we are a statewide company that keeps both of us busy. But, we also run a greyhound kennel of our own that gives us both a wonderful outlet from work.
Dad started in greyhounds back in the 1980s and had instant success with dogs like Wynlee Wonder and Wynlee Spirit.
As the eldest of five kids in the family, I was the first to have involvement in greyhound racing. Dad and I have been right back into the game for the past 12 years.
Whenever I am approached by inquisitive newcomers to greyhound racing the first advice I give them is to find a reliable contact in the industry. Tasracing can point people in the right direction.
Newcomers really do need a contact, and a reliable contact, to get the ball rolling in regards to their involvement.
My first question to anyone contemplating entry to greyhound racing is “what do you want to get out of it?”.
Hopefully the answer is a good bit of fun and if that is the case, then that is great. If newcomers are lured by million dollar purses and the thought it is easy to wins those races, then they should think again.
My first suggestion for newcomers is to buy a well bred pup or pups at three months of age. This is where the vital contact in the industry is much needed. What do most newcomers know about bloodlines, buying pups and then getting them reared.
For, without the right rearing, those pups will struggle to win.
Dad has been in the game long enough, and with great success, to develop our kennels into a production based on great damlines, the right rearing and preparation for racing.
We have been breeding from our own damline for a long time now and know exactly what we need that damline to do to produce winners for us. It works.
The one thing many people in this industry do wrong is breed out of bad bitches. If you do that, you are gone. We have a restriction on the bitches we use at stud. They must have won 15 races. Of course there are exceptions to every rule but the one exception we made to that recently was with a bitch who had won 10 races and then hurt herself. We knew how good she was.
People try to prove a point by breeding with lesser quality bitches. It almost always works against them.
If someone approaches dad and me about becoming a trainer, that is a tough question.
Our first suggestion is be prepared for a 365 day a year job. If you are not prepared for that, then training greyhounds is not for you.
The next piece of advice centres around getting yourself involved with one or more of the better trainers, those who win lots of races. Soak up enough info at this time to help with your own dogs.
Trainers should also be prepared to get a property that suits their training needs. This is important and can hold a lot of trainers back.
Our training is done on a five-acre property. We, of course, have kennel blocks, competition runs and a 250m straight track. The more training you can do at home the better. Naturally that is time effective.
Our feeding routines are based on what we have found to be successful over many years. Of course we have tinkered with this over the years, but not so much. We only ever use Advance kibble on all our dogs, racing dogs, broodbitches, pups. It is a key to keeping our dogs healthy. Advance has vitamins included already.
The beef we use is the best we can get. Chopping and changing the feeding routine doesn’t do any good at all. We will feed a stew once a week to all the dogs on the property.
A lot of young trainers can get caught up overdoing things.
Training can be both overdone and underdone.
We put our race dogs on a walking machine for 20 minutes every morning,
Straight work is done generally twice a week between races, the first a handslip, the second behind a drag lure. We find the drag lure is excellent for keeping dogs keen.
The amount of work a dog gets can depend on their individual body language. A dog will tell you what he needs.
In Tassie at the moment, there are few 600m to 700m races. Racing here is being swallowed up by short course events. It is not a good thing. Prizemoney is as good as it has ever been.
You need a strong dog to win over the 460m at Hobart.
Being a family run training partnership means both dad and I can get away for breaks with our family. It is something that is greatly needed.
Dad is 67 and he learned greyhound training and especially muscle work from those great Victorian dog men Allan Roberts and Ned Bryant. He’s been teaching me muscle work for the past 20 years and I’m still leaning it. It is the hardest part of training.