Mid Canterbury greyhound trainer Malcolm Grant has 100 reasons to smile this week. For the first time in his 30-plus year career, Grant has trained his 100th winner in just a season of racing, after one of the young stars of his kennels raced home in fine form in Dunedin on Monday.
The season runs from August 1 to July 31, and Grant said the possibility of 100 wins didn't come into play until the start of this month.
Heading to the Dunedin meet, he was on 98 and knew he still had another meeting in Christchurch before the season ended.
When Cawbourne Burst won an early race on Monday, Grant moved to 99 wins, and Smash Palace made it 100 when he raced to the front from box one in race seven, an open class race. That made it 11 wins from 25 starts for the two-year and two-month old dog, owned by Grant and his wife Lisa, Alan Frost, Bernie Hill, Rod Moffat, Ted and Shirley Laxon.
It must have been meant to be. Smash Palace was originally an emergency for the race, but found himself in box one after a dog was scratched two days out.
Grant currently works 20 dogs at his Lowcliffe property and up until this season, the most wins he'd had in a year was 92, achieved a couple of years ago.
While 100 wins in a season wasn't unusual for some of the country's top trainers, it was for a trainer with an operation the size of Grant's, although he usually finished between 80 and 10th in the national premiership.
He'd received much praise and congratulations since achieving the feat, but there was little time to celebrate. The dogs had to be taken home and then it was back to the seven day a week routine of feeding and working them on Tuesday.
Grant was a muscle conscious trainer and said breeding had a lot to do with a good dog.
“They have to have natural ability, we can't go out there and run for them,” Grant said.
“I work them hard and feed them better and do a lot of galloping training with them.”
“But to get anything out of them you've got to treat them with love and respect.”
The dogs' diets include two pieces of toast on brown bread, with honey and marmite, in the mornings, 1.5kg of meat at night, along with dry food. On the way home from meetings there's usually a special treat for the dogs in the form of a soft serve ice cream.
Grant said he wasn't worried how he notched up the 100.
“We could've won a maiden, I didn't care how we got it but to win a class five race to do it was quite nice,” Grant said.
He said it had been a huge year for everyone involved with the kennels.
Things had changed a lot since Grant was first introduced to greyhound racing through his father as a 12-year-old in 1972.
His dad bought his first dog for $20, while Grant won his first dog in a raffle. He named him Raffle Boy.
“He was a really good dog, he taught me more about what a good dog should be than anyone ever could,” Grant said.
These days a good dog could cost anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 and Grant had just purchased Smash Palace's litter of 16-month-old pups for $50,000.
He remembered greyhound racing at events like the Chertsey Gymkhana.
“In those days we were racing for $1 and a ribbon,” he said.
Qualifying heats will be held on September 30 and Grant hopes Smash Palace will be there.
“I hope to have a couple in the heats at least,” Grant said.
Courtesy : Erin Bishop, Ashburton Guardian.