Graeme Bate has tonight been announced as one of the inaugural 36 inductees in to the Victorian Greyhound Racing Hall Of Fame.
Hall Of Fame Inductee : Graeme Bate (Trainer)
Graeme Bate has been training greyhounds since the 1970s and has prepared more winners than anyone during that time.
However, perhaps even more significant than the success of his kennel on the racetrack over the past 30 years is Bate’s training methods, which revolutionized the sport of greyhound racing.
Bate was once considered ‘a laughing stock’ for exercising his greyhounds by way of galloping them in long runs instead of using the traditional method of walking. However he soon became the envy of the greyhound world as “free-galloping”, as we now know it, became an integral part of virtually every trainer’s training regime.
However, the idea to free-gallop his greyhounds didn’t necessarily hatch from any sort of scientific theory Bate had, but more as a matter of convenience. In the mid ‘70s much of Bate’s time was being chewed up by way of managing a trial track he had restored on his first greyhound property, which was based in Anakie.
“I was working as an electrician and had three months of holiday pay owed to me which I decided to take when I first moved to Anakie when I was in my early 20s. There was a trial track on the property I had bought which wasn’t in use so I got that going and made it a public trial track. I didn’t charge people much to trial their dogs because I thought of greyhound racing as a battler’s sport, and I was a battler myself. It soon became one of the busiest trial tracks in Victoria”, Bate said.
“I was putting so much time into running my trial track that I didn’t have time to walk my racedogs anymore and I decided to build a couple of galloping runs. Through trial and error I discovered that the ideal size for galloping runs was 100-110 metres in length, and to run them side by side seven metres apart.”
“People would come to my trial track and snigger at me behind my back for galloping my dogs instead of walking them, but I was getting plenty of winners and before long people were measuring my runs.
This revolutionized the industry. People soon learned that galloping greyhounds got them fitter and it was more time efficient. That inspired greyhound people to start buying five and 10 acre blocks to train their dogs from so they could build galloping runs on them”, Bate added.
Despite his initial success with free galloping his greyhounds, Bate wasn’t totally convinced about the concept until he experimented with his first champion greyhound, a mighty stayer named Ibrox.
“Two Scotsman gave me Ibrox to train in 1976 after she had been suspended for marring. I free galloped her as I did all my race dogs and she won just about every staying race on the calendar for me. I even won a brand new station wagon because she won the Victorian Greyhound of the Year”, Bate recalled.
“A lot of the top trainers of the time said to me, imagine how good she’d be if you walked her instead of free-galloping her. So I bought a greyhound walking machine and started working Ibrox on it instead of in my galloping runs. From there she ran six lengths slower in her first race, but luckily was still good enough to win. Then she went another two lengths slower in her next race and another two lengths slower in her run after that. After four weeks I decided this walking caper was no good for my dogs and I tossed the walking machine away”, he said.
Incidentally, a flash back to Graeme Bate’s first experiences in greyhound racing, prior to his Anakie days when he lived on a house block in Lara, shows he was never very fond of walking his greyhounds.
“I was first introduced to greyhound racing in the early 70s. I was 20 years old and my next door neighbour, who trained greyhounds, was in a car accident, and he asked me to walk his dogs for him. That got me hooked on them. At the time I’d been doing a lot of cross country running. I ran miles with his dogs and they improved out of sight”, Bate said.
Graeme Bate’s dominance as a greyhound trainer for more than 30 years is unparalleled. He has won the Victorian Trainer of the Year a record 12 times and has won virtually every feature race on the greyhound calendar.
His Group 1 winning resume boasts three Melbourne Cups, three Laurels Classics, three Silver Chief Classics and two Maturity Classics plus many other victories.
When asked of his most memorable wins as a trainer, there are a few that stand out in his mind.
“Winning my first Melbourne Cup with Satan’s Shroud (1981) in which I won $30,000 which seemed like a fortune at the time. Also winning the Melbourne Cup with Kantarn Bale (1999) when I trained the trifecta in the race was very special and I had to pinch myself the next morning. And winning the 2009 Australian Cup with Velocette gave me a great personal thrill”, he said.
When asked how he got from being a skinny cross country runner in his late teens who knew nothing about greyhound racing to becoming the most successful greyhound trainer in the history of the sport, Bate said…
“I think a lot of my success comes back to my father’s genes. He was a hunter who had several cross bred greyhounds. They were good hunting dogs. I also improved my training skills because of trial and error. I was willing to persist with giveaway dogs in my early years which taught me a lot. My wife Bev is also a tremendous help.”
Bate said spending many hours with renowned greyhound chiropractor Neil Maurer allowed him to learn the all important mechanics of a greyhound.
“Neil Maurer used to check greyhounds for people at my old place in Anakie when the trial track was operating. He taught me to find and treat injuries. Injuries are a hell of a thing in greyhound racing.
Training greyhounds is common sense, but if you can fix injuries it’s the be all and end all”, Bate said.
Training greyhounds aside, including many in conjunction with his great mate and Australia’s most formidable greyhound breeder in Paul Wheeler of NSW, Bate enjoys going fishing several nights a week. But this happens after he has applied the daily polish to his greyhounds – including feeding, checking for injuries and, the all important revolutionary exercising method of free galloping.
- Victorian Trainer of the Year a record 12 times
- Victorian Greyhound of the Year: 1977 Ibrox; 1988 Hay Dinney; 1989 Fair Sentence
- Melbourne Cup: 1981 Satan’s Shroud; 1989 Fair Sentence; 1999 Kantarn Bale
- Only person to train a Melbourne Cup Trifecta (1999)
- Hobart Thousand: 1992 Bomber Gleeson; 1993 Extra’s Boy; 1998 Mirren Bale; 1999 Latest Lad
- Silver Chief: 1991 Bomber Gleeson; 1999 Kantarn Bale; 2001 Burali Bale
- Maturity Classic: 1988 Hay Dinney; 1995 Northern Legend
- Laurels Classic: 1997 Moonambel Gem; 2001 Hail A Harley; 2002 Katella Bale
- Golden Easter Egg: 1995 Malawi Law
- Paws Of Thunder: 2001 Suellen Bale
- National Sprint Championship: 2001 Henerik Bale
- Association Cup: 1997 Northern Legend
- NCA All Stars: 1996 Northern Legend
- Warrnambool Classic: 1996 Blue Volcano
- Silver Bullet: 1996 Moonambel Prince
- Schweppes Cup: 1994 Rusty Lee
- SA Oaks: 1992 Revealing; 1997 Moonambel Gem
- Easter Cup: 1994 Rusty Leed
- Lizrene Classic: 1992 Revealing; 1997 Moonambel Gem
- Waterloo Cup: 1995 New Beat and Perkins divided
- Shepparton Cup: 1989 Pure Talent; 1991 Bomber Gleeson; 2001 Salong Bale
- Warragul Cup: 1990 Pure Talent
- Horsham Cup: 1982 Satan’s Shroud; 1984 Propellant; 1988 Hay Dinney; 1998 Lansley Bale; 2000 Kantarn Bale; 2002 Timjim Bale
- Warrnambool Cup: 1992 Bomber Gleeson; 2000 Kantarn Bale; 2001 Sweet Silkab; 2002 Kantarn Bale; 2003 Francesca Bale
- Traralgon Cup: Keeko Bale
- Geelong Cup: 1982 Satan’s Shroud; 1987 Modern Gossip; 1989 Fair Sentence; 1998 Cerin Bale; 201 Suellen Bale; 2006 Dyna Checa
- Ballarat Cup: 1982 Satan’s Shroud; 1989 Hay Dinney; 1995 Malawi Law; 1998 Lansley Bale
- Cranbourne Cup: 1997 Lansley Bale; 2001 Hail A Harley
- Bendigo Cup: 1998 Lansley Bale
- SA Interstate Challenge: 2002 Henerik Bale
- WA Interstate Challenge: 2001 Kantarn Bale
- New Years Cup: 2002 Suellen Bale
- Border Park Galaxy: 2002 Bitability Bale
- Henry Harrison Cup: 2003 Delroy Bale
- Sale Cup: 2006 Elektra
The 36 Victorian Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame inductees are in three broad categories:
- The Pioneers (8) – recognised by the selection committee as having shaped Greyhound Racing’s early days.
- The People (15) – includes trainers, breeders, owners, administrators and other prominent personalities.
- The Greyhounds (13) – includes achievements on the racetrack and at stud.
The 36 inductees are as follows:
- Noel Banks – Administrator
- Byamee – Coursing Greyhound
- Silvester Doyle – Administrator
- Chris Flint – Administrator
- Ray Herbert – Trainer
- Roy Maidment – Administrator
- John ‘Jack’ McKenna – Administrator
- George Schofield – Administrator
- Bold Trease – Racing Greyhound
- Brett Lee – Racing Greyhound
- Chariot Supreme – Breeding Greyhound
- Cheltenham Lass – Racing Greyhound
- China Trip – Racing Greyhound
- Head Honcho – Breeding Greyhound
- Highly Blessed – Racing Greyhound
- Kantarn Bale – Racing Greyhound
- Lizrene – Racing Greyhound
- Odearo – Racing Greyhound
- Rookie Rebel – Racing Greyhound
- Temlee – Breeding Greyhound
- Wee Sal – Breeding Greyhound
- Graeme Bate – Trainer
- Fred Booth – Studmaster
- Ned Bryant – Trainer
- Ken Carr – Administrator
- William ‘Bill’ Conroy – Administrator
- Rod Deakin – Breeder
- Jim Gannon – Veterinarian
- Henry Harrison – Administrator
- Dave Hodgson – Canine Chiropractor
- Paul Hogan – Breeder/Trainer
- Stan Lake – Administrator
- Harold Matthews – Administrator
- Ron Nestor – Administrator
- Bill Pearson – Media
- Margaret Thomas – Administrator
All future Victorian Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at the annual Victorian Greyhound Industry Awards, with a maximum of four inductees in any given year.