Every trainer in the industry has a story to how their career in greyhounds started. Regardless of how many dogs they have put a leash on in their time they will be able to tell you the name of their first greyhound and vividly recall their first win in this incredible sport. For many this first victory holds special meaning and helps to kick start what they hope will be a prosperous training career. 38-year-old mentor Jamie Bennett will always remember a pint sized bitch called Now We Rolling who gave the father of two his first win as a trainer on Sunday 26th May 2013 at the Upper Hunter track of Muswellbrook in NSW.
Now We Rolling is a two year old daughter of National Sprint champion Elite State and out of the handy race bitch Bonfire And Ice. Now We Rolling is only the second pup from Bonfire And Ice to hit the racetrack and is the first winner for her dam; claiming her maiden victory at start number two.
Beginning from the awkward squeeze box on Sunday, Bennett admits that he was not expecting a great deal from the black bitch when drawn in box five however Now We Rolling had different plans and certainly made the race her own, stretching out beautifully to win by a length on the line in a nippy 19.76 seconds over the 328 metre distance.
“It was a bit of a shock to win it because I wasn’t expecting it to come from her”, Bennett said.
“It has taken a while to get her going because we had a bit of a drama with her; she wasn’t well and then she broke down so I turned her out for a while and since coming back we have got her right and she has just kept improving”.
Bennett also left Muswellbrook with a placing on Sunday afternoon with Take The Kitty youngster Marcy Runkle running a great race to finish third behind Concrete Blonde in race two. Marcy Runkle has had four starts so far and also ran a nice second at Unibet Gardens last month, with a win looking to be just around the corner for speedy blue bitch.
Bennett lives on a small acreage in the Hunter Valley town of Bolwarra (about 40 minutes away from Newcastle) with his wife Kylie and children Molly, 11, and Jonty, 9, who he thanks profusely and credits for much of his success as a trainer.
“I have three in work and I couldn’t have anymore- it’s all I can handle. I work full time so if it wasn’t for Kylie and my kids I don’t think I could do it because they are such a big help. The days usually start at 3:30-4 in the morning and often we don’t finish the dogs until about 10 o’clock at night so it really is a team effort”.
Despite the hard work involved with training, working and raising a young family, Bennett was always destined to be involved in the industry, growing up in a greyhound family.
“I grew up with dogs- my dad had them and my grandad and uncles also had them. When you grow up with greyhounds it is something that is in your blood for life”.
Bennett’s parents Warren and Jeanette have been integral members of the Hunter Valley racing community for years. His father Warren is the ex-curator and starter at the Maitland greyhound track whilst mum Jeanette is still a valued member of the track at Maitland- being the friendly face behind the counter in the race day office.
Jamie himself is a jack of all trades- previously working at the Maitland, Singleton and Cessnock tracks as an ID steward, curator and lure driver during his time.
With plenty of experience in all aspects of racing, Jamie enthuses that although only training on his own since January this year, it is where his heart lies.
“I definitely enjoy being with the dogs more, it’s just a great experience training them. I have also got the kids and they absolutely love the dogs and racing them. It is a great thing for our family to do together and a good day out for the family in general at the track watching the dog’s race”.
With such a wholesome approach to racing, it is refreshing to see such a young family getting into the sport together and allowing their passion to shine through. As for what comes next for Bennett and his 27 kilogram pocket rocket, Jamie suggests that Now We Rolling will have a crack at one of the local TAB tracks.
“I don’t really have any definite plans for her, but now that we have a win under our belt I think she deserves a crack at a TAB track”.
No matter where she heads next or what the future entails for Now We Rolling, she will always be remembered by Jamie and his family as the greyhound who got the ball ‘rolling’ on his training career. With an industry background Jamie is sure to record some excellent results as a trainer and with the support of his dedicated family the sky is the limit for what he can achieve with his chasers in years to come.