Behind The Scenes At Tasmania’s Feraro Park Kennels
It's not common that someone trains a greyhound to win two feature race wins with the first dog they train. But this was precisely the case for Tasmanian trainer, Susan Gittus. After learning the tricks of trade from her father, Susan has been able to enjoy more than her fair share of success.
“It is fantastic to have consistent top grade performers, Feraro Tiger, Feraro Jet, Exalted, Jumbo Elm and Always Believe are probably the most consistent top grade performers I've had through my kennel”
“Winning the Breeders Classic, Gold Collar and two races at Olympic park with the first dog I trained, Feraro Tiger, rates very high. He really kicked started my training career so it was fitting that our property is named after him.” Susan explains.
The property referred to is Feraro Park Kennels, which Susan operates alongside her husband, Nathan and son, Alex.
Located 30kms north of Hobart, Ferraro Park is home to a team of 30 or more chasers, along with pups and brood bitches. However, Feraro Park's most well known resident was the late Lilli Pilli Lad.
‘Jack' as he was affectionately known, had a brief but highly influential racetrack career. Having only thirteen starts for eight wins, he still managed to have a big impact on the local racing industry.
“There isn't a person here (in Tasmania) who isn't still in awe of his track record at Devonport, set nine years ago. Nothing has got near it since, and there have been many good dogs winning there.”
But it wasn't until the son of Light of Fire and Tranquil Flame began his own stud career did things really take off on a national level. Susan explains how he travelled all over the country after his racing days were over.
“He started at stud in Tasmania with Angus Evans, his trainer. Then moved to Victoria and stood with Jason Thompson. He went to NSW later as his owner is up there, but they decided to send him back to Tassie where he is best known.”
And it didn't take long for his progeny to succeed. Swift Appeal and Pilli Appeal were two of the earliest dogs to appear, both winning several races at Wentworth Park. Many chasers such as Stylish Speed, Atomic Jet and Light Ice Lad begin winning Free-For-All races around the country and as time rolled on, the Group performers quickly emerged.
In 2004, Regent Thunder stepped out and beat the likes of Where's Pedro and Lukeamy to take the Group 1 Hobart Thousand, while Lillipilli Power landed the Group 2 Galaxy at Tweed Heads.
However, a mating with Chinatown Babe in 2005 produced a sensational litter, which not only included Group 1 placegetter Avalon Chief, but two runners who totally dominated Australia's staying races for all of 2008, Chinatown Lad and Fallen Zorro.
“I was rapt to see the national success that Chinatown Lad and Fallen Zorro had. They not only highlighted Lilli Pilli Lad as a sire but Tasmania as well. Too many people still under rate Tasmanian greyhounds. Gavin Whitney bred and rared that litter. He has a straw (to Lilli Pilli Lad) so it would be nice to see a repeat mating done.”
Unfortunately Lilli Pilli Lad passed away just before his 11th Birthday, however, frozen semen is still available at Feraro Park.
Tasmanian racing has gone through many changes in recent years. Most noticeably the relocation of both Launceston and Hobart tracks. Unfortunately, the feedback hasn't always been positive. Susan believes that the new facilites lack the atmosphere of the now replaced White City and showgrounds tracks, and they also separate trainers and handlers too much.
“Hobart (Elwick) is very disappointing” she says.