Despite having been training greyhounds for over two decades, few wins have meant as much to Hunter Valley conditioner Terry Priest than Old Spice’s tough victory in the Blue Paws Maiden final at Maitland on Thursday.
Although only beginning slowly from box five, the son of Lochinvar Marlow and Takeover Teddy was able to weave his way through the field and find a spot on the rails around the home turn. Once on the inside, Old Spice stretched out beautifully to snare the lead in the run to the line, scoring by one and a half lengths in 25.73 over the 450 metre sprint.
It was his second win in as many weeks after breaking his maiden the week prior in 25.53. Priest was relieved to finally see some wins on the board for his talented youngster.
“He had five starts before he won his maiden and he was placed in four of them, he is a bit of a slow beginner and he was just finding trouble. He started learning how to get through a field and it looks like the penny has finally dropped,” Priest said.
“He broke in really well at Richmond so we thought he would crack it for a win but until he actually does it you never really know for sure. He has always shown ability and he is very well bred, he is out of the mother of Mr Clydesdale, Takeover Teddy. It is a good line which produces good dogs and at this stage he looks like being the best in his litter.”
Seeing the promising black dog finally reach his potential is rewarding for Priest whose father, also named Terry, passed away 14 months ago. Priest’s father was involved in rearing of Old Spice’s litter and his mother Denise now owns the 29 kilogram chaser.
“Dad passed on just over 12 months ago after a work accident and these were the last pups he reared.
“Dad used to do all the rearing while mum and I focused on the training. His role over the past 10 years was getting them to walk on the lead and ready for me to start pre-training them.”
Old Spice was always a favourite of Priest’s father after he and his litter mates became sick at a young age. His dad’s bond with the pup, affectionately named Mr Tee, has ensured the greyhound now holds a special place in the hearts of the whole family.
“The pups nearly died at three months old, they got really sick, they got a virus and we didn’t know whether it was Neosporosis or Parvo and dad actually nursed them back to health by bottle feeding them.
“He named him Mr Tee and he was always out there cuddling him, he was his mate and so now he is special to us because when we look at him we know that dad did all the work with him.
“He loved him, he reared him and always said that he would be a good one and that he couldn’t wait for him to be racing.”
Due to their bond, it was only fitting that he would go on to race in honour of Terry Priest Sr.
“We were all sitting around the table not long after dad passed away. The dog had just been broken in and the reports were good.
“Old Spice got mentioned because dad always had the aftershave and once it came up, that was it, we all decided to put that down. We are very happy that he got the name.”
Terry said it is rewarding for the whole family to see Old Spice racing so well in his dad’s memory given that it is the last greyhound that he had assisted with.
“It’s been a thrill for all of us because of the time and effort dad put in to him. We realise that after him it will be a fresh start for us, he wasn’t involved with any of the others, so this litter is a big part of us and is very special.”
Priest, who currently has eight greyhounds in work, said that credit should also go to his mother who is an enormous part of the training team. He also expressed how having the dogs has been a massive help for her in this difficult time.
“If it wasn’t for the dogs I don’t know what mum would be doing. Me and mum work as a team and she puts a lot of effort into the dogs and they keep her going.
“I think they have helped her get over dad, she puts her head down and tries to get on with life, as you have got to. She is unbelievable and that’s the thing about greyhound racing, it keeps the family together and it helps you get over hard times.”
Terry, who trains from acreage at Sawyers Gully, said he may try his hand at full time training next year, but all that will depend on how much success he can have with Old Spice and his current team within the next few months.
For now he is just hoping to have a bit more fun with the chaser that is not just a greyhound, but a big part of the Priest family.
“I always worry that he will come home safe when he races but it is great for the family to know that we can race a dog in dad’s memory. It makes you want to get up early and get that dog out, give him a cuddle and get him racing.
“We don’t want to forget dad now that his gone so its great to have this dog. To see the tears in mums eyes, its a special moment and you have to savour those. It allows us to reminisce back to when dad was here with the pups.
“Its just great at the moment and we couldn’t be happier.”