By patient … and listen to old people

30th October 2020


GREYHOUND racing has been my life. I grew up with my mum and dad always having a dog or three in the kennels in the Wauchope, Kempsey, Taree area of the mid-north coast of NSW.

Racing greyhounds in this area can be entirely different to other places.

I’ve been asked to give my insight into how to get into greyhounds in an area like this, away from the central hub of racing in each state, what the best advice can be for first-timers in the industry, and how they should go about becoming one of us.

Greyhound racing has become a major part of my life and I suppose you can say we’ve had a good bit of success.

But for me I had to live a teenagers’ life first before I followed in the footsteps of my parents. Growing up, there was always plenty to do with my time, footy and the likes.

But, it wasn’t until back in the early 2000s before I really got interested in doing the dogs myself.

And, I got lucky immediately.

I bought a pup from Snowy Watts, a bitch by Solve The Puzzle from Titled Lady and I named her Solve The Title. She went to Barry Coombes, a legend of the dog world in these parts and as good a trainer as there has been anywhere.

Barry gave her eight starts and she won six, made the Wauchope Cup final, but that race ended in disaster. She was just hitting the front when the lure broke down.

We took her to Taree to trial a week later and she broke a hock.

Before Solve The Title, I’d been on and off helping my mum with her dogs, but this was my first serious involvement. I bought her because she was from a wonderful broodbitch line that had been so good for the Northfield family on the Northern Rivers.

Because Solve The Title was so good, I had to breed with her, and put her to Big Daddy Cool and then Oaks Road. The first litter had Wicked Title and Solve That Title, who was greyhound of the carnival at Wauchope.

The Oaks Road litter was great. I’m A Rockstar won the Wauchope and Taree Cups, She Is Diamond won 30 races and the Kempsey Cup and was second in the Wauchope Cup when five years and nine months old, while Smoking Oaks won 20 races.

She Is Diamonds won five of her five seven races at six years old. I’ve since bred a litter by Raw Ability from her.

There is a lesson to be learned from these dogs.

I’m A Rockstar always showed great speed running around the paddock as a pup. When I started work on him at racetracks he would not chase. I knew he needed patience and I knew he would come good.

He did.

Which all leads me to give some advice to newcomers trying to get into greyhound racing for the first time. The fact you may live in Wauchope, or any country town outside the city centre, does not change the fundamentals of entry into greyhound racing.

My first piece of advice is to buy a decently bred pup and watch it grow. If you happen to have some acreage, even better, because that allows you to buy a couple of pups.

Another bit of advice rarely listened to is ‘take notice of old people’. It is a lesson in life values as well as greyhound training.

These guys have been in greyhounds for many decades and know what they are talking about. Respect their opinion.

The biggest mistake young people getting into the game is to buy out of ordinary damlines, generally on the recommendation of people who are pushing a sale, or just don’t know.

Good greyhound breeding will always keep throwing on.

I’ve now had my own damline for 10 years and I know what they want and need and what to see in the best ones.

The biggest mistake young people, and many older ones, make is they are not patient enough. Not being patient can ruin a dog. We all do silly things, but the best plan in life is to cut down on the number of silly things we do. It is exactly true for greyhound trainers.

Most people get too anxious to see their dogs perform and this can be the ruination of them. Asking dogs to do too much at too young an age is a disaster waiting to happen. I’m A Rockstar would have been given up on my most. But I knew he had something and he eventually did it for me.

The mid-north coast of NSW is on the threshold of a bold new era. Taree and now Wauchope both have TAB race meetings and the $15,000 for the Wauchope Cup was a staggering prize lift for our feature race.

I know it costs about $9000 a month to have three horses trained in the Wauchope area, and prizemoney for a normal race here is $12,000. Do the sums … how far better off are we with greyhounds.

With TAB prizemoney here now, it makes it very viable to race greyhounds in this area. I’m sure most people who come into any area of racing do it for fun.

But we all still want to find that better racing animal.

Young people wishing to join a syndicate to get a dog racing in this area should do their homework. There are bargains to be had with tried dogs, but gee they can be difficult to find.

I’m a punter and when I have a bet it is not until I have done all my homework and watched an endless number of video replays. I believe this too is the only way to buy a tried dog.

Watch and watch and watch again the dog’s video replays of its races. This is the truth of how good or bad the dog is. Never buy a dog with a problem.

The tried dog is for sale for a reason. You are not going to buy a horse from Gai Waterhouse and expect to win the Derby with it.

And, if you plan to go into training, remember it is not that hard to train a greyhound. The only problem you will really encounter is with soreness.

Greyhounds are athletes and they want to run.

Pick someone you respect and ask them to help your entry into the industry. But, do your homework.

Caption: Vikki and Rick Taffe with I’m A Rockstar after winning the Wauchope Cup