By MIKE HILL
COMING to Australia in his early twenties was one of the best things John McCarthy has done in his life.
He married an Aussie girl, Maggie, began a family and rekindled his love for greyhounds.
“My dad had greyhounds when I was growing up back in England,” McCarthy said.
“We lived at Dagenham in East London and dad raced his dogs from his backyard kennels and he bred a few litters over the years.
“I was a young bloke – 21 – when I arrived in Sydney in 1977.
“It turned out to be a very good move.”
McCarthy lived in Sydney, raising a family, until the late 80s-early 90s when they moved to Redcliffe.
It was then that he decided to get back into greyhounds.
And success came early.
His first dog Dagenham, named after his hometown suburb, put McCarthy on the trainers map when he won the 1993 Queensland Derby – the first Derby run at the Albion Park track after the closure of the Gabba.
Dagenham, a blue and white dog, was superbly bred by New Tears from Chariot Moss (Chariot Supreme- Miss Lemoss, a Temlee bitch).
“He was a good, little dog for us,” McCarthy said.
He trained four dogs from his Redcliffe kennels but after a few years was on the look-out for acreage.
“About 20 years ago we moved out to Wivenhoe Pocket (west of Brisbane),” the trainer said.
“We’ve always bred and raced our own dogs and we usually seem to have a handy one in our kennels.”
That changed somewhat in early 2017 when McCarthy produced a smart litter of four from the mating of Dyna Lachlan and Pearl Za Zinger.
McCarthy had purchsed Pearl Za Zinger (Surf Lorian-Kaycee Diva) as a young pup with the hope of later breeding from her.
She was a handy race bitch recording eight wins and 23 placings from 69 starts, but it was in the breeding barn that Pearl Za Zinger rewarded her owner.
Her first litter, the Dyna Lachlan quartet, comprised four-time Group runner-up – three at G1 level – Slick (89: 26-15-14, $218,819), four-time Group finalist and Queensland Derby winner Rather Dapper (36: 9-7-6, $89,821), the smart chaser Aza Zeus (97: 17-17-8, $68,935) and the only bitch in the litter Oh Golly Gosh (42: 7-9-5, $24,214).
“The three dogs could run,” McCarthy said and although he considers Slick the best dog he has trained be believes Rather Dapper would have been the better dog had injury not cut short his career.
Rather Dapper broke a hock in a heat of the Group 1 Brisbane Cup (520m) at Albion Park in late 2017 after an exception 12 months of racing.
“Without that mishap, I think he would have been the best of the litter,” the trainer said.
“He was a quicker dog out of the boxes, but I can’t complain about Slick”.
McCarthy admitted kennel numbers were ‘a bit skinny’ at the moment, but was bathing in the fact that Proper Gent had a commanding lead in the Ipswich Greyhound of the Year title.
Proper Gent (Fear Zafonic-Pearl Za Zinger) has so far amassed 104 points in the title and at the end of October was 43 points in front of Mick Pearce’s Mally’s Nova.
And the owner-breeder-trainer has high hopes for some young pups coming through his system.
Members of Pearl Za Zinger’s last litter – by Barcia Bale – ‘are breaking in well’, he has two small litters from Oh Golly Gosh (by Fernando Bale and Zambora Brockie) and he’s waiting with anticipation on Slick’s first litter.
He mated the star black chaser with his former smart bitch Just Spiffing (119: 16-25-20, $73,828) and ‘she’s due in a few weeks’.
“A few local trainers have shown interest in using Slick with their bitches,” McCarthy said.
“Several said they were just waiting for their bitches to come in season.
“Let’s see what happens”
McCarthy is standing Slick for a $1100 fee.
1: How and when did you get involved in greyhound racing?
A: Back in Dagenham in England when I was about five years old. My dad had greyhounds.
2: Who has been the greatest influence on you as a trainer?
A: My father.
3: At what age do you start preparing a pup for racing?
A: I start preparing a pup when its 14 months old.
4: How long does it take to prepare a pup for its first race?
A: About three to four months … we don’t rush them.
5: What makes a good pup?
A: A good temperament and, of course, ability.
6: Do you do anything special when preparing a young dog for its maiden compared to a seasoned performer?
A: We like to give them plenty of field work.
7: Do you have a set routine for all your greyhounds or do you vary training for individual runners?
A: We have a basic routine except where something different is warranted.
8: Do you have any unique or unusual methods you would like to share in regard to training?
A: We break our pups in over three months after they turn 14 months old.
9: Do you swim your dogs as part of your training regime?
10: How frequently do you like to race your dogs?
A: Generally once a week, sometimes twice.
11: What’s your training routine for dogs between races?
A: I personally walk my dogs every day and gallop them up the straight twice a week in between races.
12: Do you do all muscle work on your dogs or do you use a professional muscle man?
A: I do my own but periodically I seek a second opinion.
13: Do you do treat all injuries to your dogs yourself?
A: Yes unless a vet is required.
14: Which is the best greyhound you have trained?
A: I would have to say Slick, although I feel it would have been Rather Dapper barring injury.
15: What do you consider is the best greyhound track in Australia and why?
A: Different tracks for different dogs.
16: What does the industry need most going forward?
A: Administrators need to listen more to experienced trainers and the sport needs to be promoted more to the general public.
17: What is the best advice you could give someone just starting out as a trainer?
A: Patience. Talk to successful trainers. Get to know your dog and keep him clean inside and out and injury free.