By MIKE HILL
SETBACK to success … that has been the journey for Rockhampton’s Juanita Thompson in the past six months.
Thompson had operated the popular Causeway Lake fish and chips shop at Yeppoon for five years but earlier this year she had to walk away after she was unable to renew the lease on the property.
“It was a huge disappointment,” she said.
“I had just started training a few greyhounds a couple of months earlier.
“I had to look for another job … I did have some casual work at the Rockhampton turf club.”
Not afraid of hard work she started ‘playing around with the dogs’ and it’s really paying off.
Thompson – based on 25 acres at Tungamull, between Rockhampton and Yeppoon, with her successful racehorse trainer husband Clinton – only received her trainer’s licence in late October last year, but already she is making a name for herself.
“I started off with four dogs, then six and now I have 14 in work,” said Juanita, who has surprised herself with her early success.
Last month she was sitting fourth on the Rockhampton trainer’s premiership with 210 points, trailing three of the big names in Central Queensland Andrew Suli (338), Bill Boon (336) and Darren Taylor (268).
Thompson said her interest in greyhounds was triggered about two years ago when she travelled to Sydney with her husband to see the mighty Winks run in her second-last race at Rosehill.
“On the way down we stopped overnight in Brisbane and went to the Albion Park greyhound meeting,” she said.
“That night I caught the dog bug and I knew I had to get a greyhound … I was fascinated with them.
“They’re very addictive, I know that much.”
The first dog she owned was Dude Of Duds, trained by Andrew Suli, and her first winner as a trainer in her own right was Lektra Dude, victorious in the final race at Rocky over 407m in early December last year.
“It was an enormous thrill to win my first race after only having my trainer’s licence a bit over a month,” Thompson said.
But since then the wins have come thick and fast for Juanita, who credits Rocky-based Andrew Suli and Les and Lou Wisener and Churchable’s Warren Nicholls as influencing her career the most.
“They have been fantastic in helping me to establish myself,” she said.
“I’ve also taken information from a lot of people and I’ve received enormous support from my husband Clinton.
“He’s been my biggest supporter and he’s 100 per cent behind me.
“He helps me on race nights with catching and boxing the dogs.
“He says he never thought he’d ever be boxing greyhounds, and he still calls them barriers.”
Thompson admits she doesn’t pay a lot for her dogs.
“My most expensive dog cost $3500 and it’s well and truly repaid that with a series of wins,” she said.
“I think I have been very lucky with my purchases.
“Clint says I have a knack for buying half decent dogs.”
Thompson said she mainly walks her dogs although she’s in the process of building a straight track at the property.
“I’ve walked more in the last six months than I have ever walked in my life,” she said.
One of her goals is to win the Rocky Cup.
Last month she sampled a slice of excitement that goes with winning a Group feature when she caught the victorious Orchestrate for leading Brisbane trainer Tony Brett.
The experience has only sparked a stronger desire to strive for her own success.
“I’d love to win the Cup one day,” she said.
Apart from the thrill of training her first winner, Thompson said she had also recently claimed another of her goals.
“I had a big desire to win a feature final and received a rug and trophy,” she said.
Juanita achieved that honour when Rosa’s Memory won the $3675 Life Members Maiden final (407m) a week before the Rocky Cup.
And although she’s relatively new to the sport, Thompson has given Chase readers an insight into her early success.
1: How and when did you get involved in greyhound racing?
A: I bought my first greyhound as an owner two years ago after going to Albion Park races, although I had liked the idea of greyhounds for some time.
2: Who has been the greatest influence on you as a trainer?
A: My husband Clint and (greyhound trainers) Andrew Suli and Lou and Les Wisener.
3: At what age do you start preparing a pup for racing?
A: I have just got my first two pups. I’m playing with them weekly with a lure.
4: Do you have a set routine for all your greyhounds or do you vary training for individual runners?
A: I have a basic routine, then any extras depend on the individual greyhound.
5: Do you have any unique or unusual methods you would like to share in regard to training?
A: Not really, except I talk to them a lot.
6: Do you swim your dogs as part of your training regime?
A: I haven’t yet but I’d like to.
7: How frequently do you like to race your dogs?
A: I like to race them weekly.
8: What’s your training routine for dogs between races?
A: Beach walks.
9: Do you do all muscle work on your dogs or do you use a professional muscle man?
A: I have a lady who does the muscle work.
10: Do you do treat all injuries to your dogs yourself?
A: I look after minor injuries, otherwise I use the vet.
11: Which is the best greyhound you have trained?
A: Corduroy but I think Rosa’s Gold will be my next.
12: What does the industry need most going forward?
A: More racetracks in Queensland.
13: What is the best advice you could give someone just starting out as a trainer?
A: Don’t doubt yourself. Listen to the advice of others and pick out what suits you