Peter Lagogiane: Be patient and get best advice

31st March 2021

By PETER LAGOGIANE

BEFORE I start on the basics of this column Chase Newspaper has asked me to write, I have to tell you of my own introduction to greyhound racing.

It came when I was a kid of about eight years of age. I was working in a bakery with my dad and my cousin Harry Zoumas. The owner of the bakery had a few dogs and my dad shared in their ownership.

I went greyhound racing with them.

Harry would take me to Harold Park every week and then we would start going to Wenty as well.

By the time I was 14, I had my first dog called Our Boy Shaun, which did nothing. At first we started training it ourselves, then gave it to a trainer and finally gave it away.

We gave it to Ron Alford and he ran third with it at Nowra and I was so happy that dog ran into a place.

By the time I was 15, I would have $30 to take to the dogs on a Saturday night, a few bucks to get in, buy a racebook, a kebab, a beer and then punt the rest … about $18.

I would pick three dogs in the first three races and box trifectas. If any of them got up, I’d keep going. If they didn’t, I’d be just as happy to watch all the rest of the races.

By that time I was hooked on greyhounds and was always going to be a trainer.

Of course these days, things have made a huge turnaround in my life. Greyhounds have given me everything and are the major focus of my life. I am fixated on them and their preparation.

Those two wins in the first three runnings of the Million Dollar Chase has changed the face of greyhound racing. It is something I have noticed so very, very much.

There are more and more corporates and many more high profile syndicates getting into greyhound ownership.

When I first get approached by someone about starting out in this industry, my first question is just what form of participation do you want to have … owner or trainer.

There are then three avenues for this person to get involved, buy a pup and wait two years, buy a break-in, or buy a ready-made race dog. The biggest question mark here is … how deep are your pockets?

It is easy for a trainer to say he will go out and buy a prospective race dog. I don’t do that even though that is how we got Handsome Prince.

It is difficult to ask a new owner to pay $50,000 for a dog because it means we have to win $100,000 with that dog just to break even.

The corporates and syndicates spending big money are looking for a return. Of course, there are still many who just love greyhounds and want to be part of the industry because of that.

People do want someone like me to buy them a dog to win the Million Dollar Chase. I wish it was as simple as that.

What the MDC has shown is that a bloke like me can achieve that sort of success.

If someone approaches me about getting into dogs as a trainer the first thing I ask them is are they willing to give up half their life.

Greyhound training is not like horse training. Dogs need attention every three hours.

Advice can be sourced for free, but it is my suggestion advice for newcomers should only be sought through Group winning trainers. When I was painting as my career, I only went to the best painters to find out the art of their craft.

It must be the same with greyhound training.

When I was young, I watched the greats like Richie Dean, Don McMillan, Harry Sarkis and they did wonderful things with a dog.

It was an era of greats like See Yah, Rumpus Brandi, Classy Spider, Snow Report, Ferremi. They sparked it for me and they were elite athletes.

Even as a young kid I spotted that generally the winners of the races at Wenty and Harold Park were those going to the boxes wagging their tail with their heads up, the happy ones who wanted to be there.

It was not lost on me and is still with me today.

We had good success in the early days with Sent First and then my first winner Kariels Desire – a 44.01 winner over 720m at Wenty. I came back in tears after that win and was congratulated by an old guy along the rails who admitted he’d been in the game 35 years and had never won a city race.

If I get visitors to our kennels these days, the first thing they will notice is how clean everything is, the dogs, the environment everything. This is how it should be … just like it should be for your own kids.

I’ve been asked what it is I see people do wrong in greyhound training.

It is not my place to demean people, but I see a lot of dogs that just do not look good in their coat. I also believe today people just nominate their dogs to race and do not nominate just to win.

Winning is a fact of life and I go racing to win!

I was also told by Peter Rogers many years ago, and I’ve always held it to be true, that dogs have a limited number of races in their career. Peter said from trials to races, you should never overdo it with dogs. Give them only what they need, not what you think they need.

Newcomers should only start in this industry with the numbers of dogs they can handle.

Times have changed though and we are becoming more and more professional as trainers.

Some of the old timers just cannot cope with this. The controlling bodies in the industry are asking for a level, they want a professional set-up and that is what we must supply.

My kennels contain a laser, microtiser for use on tears, magnetic field which I use a great deal, but the most important aspect of my training set-up is that we free gallop all the time.

Exercise is everything.

The day after someone has a triple bypass they are encouraged to be up walking about. I have a walking machine, but rarely use it.

My feeding routine is meat and premium kibble, but I’m big on pasta and rice, veges and I believe iron is a massive thing for dogs to get their blood right.

I wrote before that I am fixated on my dogs. My two kids have been playing soccer for the past two years and I have probably been to two games in that time.

I’m a very fastidious person and on race day am with my dogs all day to see that every bit of their preparation is done as I want it.

Common sense is something that should always be used when training greyhounds. My suggestion is that newcomers should also try to spend a few days, or even a week, with a leading trainer to get an inside into how they operate.

It’s the best piece of advice I can give … that and being patient.