It was the late 1960s when wide-eyed teenager Karen Leek had a life-changing experience courtesy of Angela Renshaw, a close friend from their pony club days in Warrandyte.
Renshaw, who was working as a veterinary nurse for iconic greyhound veterinary surgeon Dr Jim
Gannon, had asked: “Do you want to meet my greyhound?”
Leek recalls being a trifle timid about the impromptu introduction, but before she knew it “a beautiful, docile greyhound had its paws on my shoulders and was licking my face”.
Soon after, Leek and Renshaw embarked on a successful three-week greyhound racing odyssey to
NSW, where they hired a caravan and set up camp on the Dapto Showgrounds.
Leek said a lot of teen spirit eventually resulted in Renshaw, Sandra Hogan (a daughter of the late
and great owner-trainer-breeder Paul Hogan) and herself setting off in search of greyhound racing
nirvana, where they boarded at the Lake Illawarra property of legendary NSW trainer Neville Ballinger.
To help make ends meet, Leek worked in a Dapto pet shop and as a part-time barmaid for a year. Roll on four decades, and Leek, 58, says she hasn’t lost that ‘teen spirit’.
Now based at Devon Meadows, Leek has experienced ‘nirvana’ with the likes of dual Melbourne Cup finalists Relle Louise and Proud Paul, Copper Lady (also a Melbourne Cup finalist) and more recently the appropriately named Time Fly’s.
“He’s an extremely underrated type… And he’s also been ‘unlucky’ having this year contested the Group 1 Silver Chief before finishing runner-up in the second fastest Bendigo Cup heat and third in track record time in a Warrnambool Cup heat. “He’s also had to live in the shadow of Australia’s bestsprinter, El Galo.”