By MIKE HILL
BRAD Belford is developing his kennels at Gumlow – an outer Townsville suburb – into a boutique operation.
The man who has been around greyhounds all his life is featured in this month’s The Trainer column.
Belford only returned to training early last year after stepping away for several years when his wife was diagnosed with cancer.
At the time he was a leading trainer in Townsville and over the years he has been highly successful, in the top few in the trainers premierships as well as collecting a host of trophies, including cups at Townsville, Ayr, Mackay (twice) and Darwin.
In fact, he won the last running of the Townsville Cup with Syanna in 2008 before the race gained Group status.
And he’s no stranger to leading in multiple winners.
He remembers rugging up five winners at one meeting – a feat he achieved at least twice.
Belford said his dad Bobby had at least 30 dogs in work when he was growing up in Brisbane.
“We use to race at the Gabba before I moved to Townsville,” he said.
“I lived on dogs until I was in my late teens when I decided to come to Townsville to play footy.
“I’ve been in and out of training since I was 18.”
Belford, who also operates a convenience deli business in Townsville, said his wife’s health had improved and she had encouraged him to get back into the sport.
It’s been a highly successful return to training for the respected conditioner.
He has been slowly rebuilding his team into a formidable unit headed by outstanding litter brothers Murphy Rumble and Rumble Master.
Since arriving in the North, the brothers have dominated, winning a total of 23 races for Belford and part-owner Mark Partland – (Murphy Rumble 13 wins, three minor placings from 21 starts; Rumble Master 10 wins, 2 placings from 13 starts).
Belford has just come off a great week of racing – Murphy Rumble was successful in the $11,200-to-the-winner North Queensland Cup (498m) at Townsville early last month and two nights later Rumble Master was super impressive in winning a 520m 5th Grade at Albion Park.
Despite the success he is having with the Collision-Velvet Rumble pair, Belford nominated Here’s To You as the best greyhound he has trained.
He guided the black dog (Elite And Classy-Where Are You) to 13 wins (12 in BON), including victory in the 2012 Group 3 Darwin Cup (537m).
1: How and when did you get involved in greyhound racing?
A: I’ve been involved with greyhounds all my life.
2: Who has been the greatest influence on you as a trainer?
A: My father Bob Belford.
3: At what age do you start preparing a pup for racing?
A: I usually start when the pup is 12 months old.
4: How long does it take to prepare a pup for its first race?
A: About five months.
5: What makes a good pup?
A: A hard chaser.
6: Do you do anything special when preparing a young dog for its maiden compared to a seasoned performer?
A: It depends on how advanced the pup is.
7: Do you have a set routine for all your greyhounds or do you vary training for individual runners?
A: Every dog is different.
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?
11: What’s your training routine for dogs between races?
A: I just gallop my dogs.
12: Do you do all muscle work on your dogs or do you use a professional muscle man?
A: I do all my own muscle work.
13: Do you do treat all injuries to your dogs yourself?
14: Which is the best greyhound you have trained?
A: Here’s To You
15: What do you consider is the best greyhound track in Australia and why?
A: I haven’t been to many, so it is hard to say.
16: What does the industry need most going forward?
A: Get young people involved.
17: What is the best advice you could give someone just starting out as a trainer?
A: Find a good trainer and work with them for a while… just listen and learn.