After making several major moves during his involvement within the greyhound racing industry, former NSW trainer Glen Quirk appears to have found his niche in New Zealand. Based at Foxton, in the North Island, near Palmerston North, Quirk is enjoying a successful stint with his emerging team of chasers that are starting to make a name for themselves around their local tracks.
The 29 year old grew up on the Central Coast of NSW and started his adventure within the greyhound world when he was just out of school. Quirk’s first greyhound, Punk Rock Rebel, won three races and turned into a handy producer with her son Kevin Oh Seven the first reserve in the Group 1 National Derby won by Elite Blue Size.
“Me and my friends bought a dog from the Dapto Auction as a pup, but we had no idea what we were doing with it. I ended up getting William and Margaret Bright to give us a bit of help and they introduced me to Tony Riley and I ended up working with Tony for a couple of years”, Quirk explained.
After trying his hand at training a few of his own chasers, Quirk then joined up with established mentor Mal Cuneo, before mixing it with some of the area’s well-known identities as he was finding his spot within the sport. After briefly leaving the industry, Quirk returned and made his biggest move to the land of the long white cloud
“I ended up getting a job with Mal Cuneo and I worked with Mal for about six or seven months up at Cessnock and then I went off on my own again, working with my good friends Kayla and Corey Spliet and I was with them for a while”
“Then I gave up. I went and worked for the mines for about three months and I didn’t like it at all. I got back into the dogs and Mal Cuneo got a job over here working as a trainer for Gary Harding in about 2008 and he asked if I wanted to come over and work for him”.
“I came over here and worked here for a while. He and Mal had a kennel on the property and Karen Walsh also had a kennel on the property. I worked with Mal for a while and then I ended up working with Karen’s kennel and I was there for maybe twelve months”.
Quirk then returned home to Australia, but only temporarily, before he was enticed back to New Zealand
“I went back at worked at Keinbah again, trained a few dogs myself for about nine months. Then Gary Harding had a job opening up over here again so I reapplied for the job. Then I worked for Karen for another two and a half years”.
An incredible opportunity then came for Quirk to start his own kennels on the property of one of New Zealand’s most prominent trainers
“Paul Freeman has a property out here where he has got three kennel sheds. He and his partner Angela were cutting their numbers down and they only needed two. They said if I wanted to get out and stretch out on my own that I could use one of their sheds. So, I have 20 kennels of my own that they are kind enough to give me and help me out”.
Quirk did not take long to get on his feet, taking over the training of many of Freeman’s greyhounds with good results. With the help of his friend, Sivan Erueti, Quirk currently uses the facilities of the Freeman property to prepare his chasers.
“I was lucky. I got plenty of support because I had already been here for a couple of years. Paul gave me a kennel that I could kick on straight away with. I had the kennels plus his property and he gave me free reign of his property to do what I want and he started me with 15 dogs of his own so I was a bit lucky in that aspect”.
With 20 dogs now in work, Quirk rates the promising Hypotential as the best in his kennels. The son of Ahane Lad and Hypo Bella started his career in Victoria where he won one race before making the voyage to join Quirk’s establishment. The black dog now boasts the strong record of 35 starts for 11 wins and 10 minor placings.
“He is out injured with a hip support at the moment but I think I have won seven or eight races with him. He is an Aussie import that I got off Steve Clark. He is a good little dog, he is probably just a bit below the mark of group status but he won a good heat of a race and he ran third in a group one heat at his last start”.
Quirk also reached an impressive milestone last month, training his 50th winner in New Zealand. Quirk put the polish on Cawbourne Bully when he overcame a wide box eight draw to land a 21.84s victory at Manawatu over the 375 metre dash. The Where’s Pedro campaigner has now won six races for Quirk and his Australian connections
“Hayley Gilbert owns him, he is an Aussie one that they sent over to Carolyn Hore and Carolyn sent him down to me- I’m in the Wanganui area and it’s a little bit less competitive down here. He is going well, they sent me three of them actually Cawbourne Bully, Cawbourne Banksy and Captain Osti and they are going well without being superstars”.
With the different styles of racing between Australia and New Zealand, comparisons are often drawn between the quality of canines. Recently, some of New Zealand’s best have been able to match motors with their Australian counterparts and quash the speculation that they are of a lesser calibre. This is something that Quirk has noted, however as a rule he does believe that Australia has the upper edge over New Zealand’s largely hobby-based industry
“It’s a smaller industry over here so it is more of a hobby based sport. In general it is a lot weaker but the top echelon of dogs is probably as good as in Australia. Karen (Walsh) took Thrilling Brat over and he won a group 1 and Thrilling Quest won quite a few good races. Clone Your Own is also winning a few good races in Melbourne. So the real top dogs over here can compete with the top dogs in Australia”.
Looking to the future, Quirk hopes to expand his setup but is content at the moment to manage his numbers as they currently stand.
“I only have 20 and that is my maximum at the moment. I’d like to expand but because I am on Paul’s place and I only have the 20 kennels it is big enough to start with. In the future I would like to expand and get up to about 30 or 40 which would be better”.