Cal­laghan’s shades of grey

Rock­hamp­ton Jockey Club is cel­e­brat­ing 150 years of rac­ing in the city with a look back at some of the un­for­get­table mo­ments in Cal­laghan Park’s history

The Morning Bulletin - - LOOKING BACK - RAY PIKE

“THE power’s on, the bunny’s in mo­tion. All set to go in the first at Cal­laghan Park.”

On a crisp night on May 13, 1982, the dul­cet tones of race caller Gary Foale brought to a re­al­ity the dreams of many hard­ened sup­port­ers of a code that had fought and over­come many ob­sta­cles to es­tab­lish grey­hound rac­ing in Rock­hamp­ton.

The Right Hon­ourable Russ Hinze, Min­is­ter for Rac­ing, opened the Rock­hamp­ton grey­hound rac­ing track be­fore a huge crowd of sup­port­ers and other peo­ple drawn from the area for the gala night.

The mag­nif­i­cent light­ing of the track set against the night sky back­ground made for a spec­tac­u­lar launch for the Rock­hamp­ton Grey­hound Rac­ing Club at Cal­laghan Park.

The largest bet­ting ring of book­mak­ers seen at a pro­vi­sional grey­hound track fielded on open­ing night and held a record turnover.

Some 16 book­mak­ers fielded on the ini­tial very strong 10event card with grey­hounds from all over Queens­land and north­ern NSW com­pet­ing.

The open­ing race over the 510m jour­ney saw vic­tory go to Jay Go Tal, owned and trained by Gary Fall, of Moura.

Gary would go on to be one of the ar­eas most re­spected train­ers, best known for the feats of Jeppy Ge­orge, a win­ner of the Rock­hamp­ton Cup in 1986.

Other win­ners on open­ing night were Darville’s Mate (Norm Moore); Carl­ner (Jan Wisener); Wononga (Kev Gib­son); Van­cou­verJet, Bowies Gem, Desurlee (David Keep); Kid Bates (Jim Conroy); Solo Sim (Cec Ringuet) and No­ble Ginger (Al­bert Harker).

The orig­i­nal com­mit­tee of the Rock­hamp­ton Grey­hound Rac­ing Club was made up of six Rock­hamp­ton Jockey Club nom­i­nees – Kev Rees, Bob Mel­drum, Tom Ac­ton, Nev Hewitt, Char­lie Jones and Bill Ten­nant.

There were also four nom­i­nees rep­re­sent­ing the grey­hound fra­ter­nity – Richie Wisener, Ray Pike, Al­bert Harker and Gra­ham Mather.

In the early days of rac­ing, Grace­mere men­tor Jan Wisener was lead­ing trainer for sev­eral years with many top rate dogs such as Wise Son, Stri­dent Chief and The Itch.

Jan and Richie Wisener even­tu­ally moved to south­ern Queens­land to pur­sue their dream of suc­cess in the grey­hound busi­ness.

Des Bar­ber trained Leenan’s Thun­der to a record 11 suc­ces­sive wins at Cal­laghan Park in­clud­ing the 1982 Christ­mas Cup and the in­au­gu­ral Grey­hound of the Year award in 1982/83.

Nick Doyle was a re­spected trainer in the early days putting the pol­ish on many good dogs.

The star of the ken­nel was the very quick sprinter and dual grey­hound of the year, Moth Eaten Tweed.

This grey­hound won about 30 races on the Cal­laghan Park cir­cuit.

Racegoers were thrilled with many races over the 735m with noted per­form­ers Pewter Frost, Car­ra­wong Kate and the very good stayer Jovial Im­age pre­pared by Norm Moore.

Norm and Joan Moore were very suc­cess­ful since open­ing night, fea­tur­ing in the top owner and trainer statis­tics most rac­ing sea­sons.

Norm was par­tic­u­larly noted for his love of “blue dogs” and the “Darville” line es­tab­lished a big fol­low­ing.

A grey­hound bred by the Moores, called Fitzroy Jim, raced with great suc­cess in Rock­hamp­ton, Bris­bane and then South Aus­tralia.

The grey­hound was named af­ter Jim Pearce, Mem­ber for Fitzroy.

Fitzroy Jim raced in the best com­pany in the land from his hum­ble be­gin­nings in Rock­hamp­ton.

Bill Mills was a gen­tle­man in ev­ery sense of the word and was re­warded for his pas­sion for grey­hounds by al­ways hav­ing a good dog or two in his ken­nel.

The likes of Ebony Quill and Dream­ers Lane both reached lofty heights for this hum­ble man.

For many years in the ‘90s, Den­nis An­der­son was premier trainer and a mas­ter con­di­tioner of grey­hounds.

When Den­nis and his wife Beryl moved from the coast to pur­chase the Malchi ken­nels, which also had the straight track of Richie Wisener, it was the begin­ning of an era for the An­der­sons and Rock­hamp­ton grey­hound rac­ing.

Over the years Den­nis pre­pared great dogs such as Zer­alite, Eita Wai, Jester Whiz, Smart Gam­ble and Denim Af­fair.

Bob and Dawn Wehmeier from their Parkhurst ken­nel were pi­o­neers in the sport and had many suc­cess­ful years be­fore re­tire­ment when Bob moved his re­duced train­ing op­er­a­tion to near Ip­swich where he raced many good dogs in bet­ter com­pany.

His hardy old sprinter In­ter­mis­sion and the old favourite Bro­ken Back Jack were among the many Wehmeier mem­o­ries.

Cawar­ral prop­er­ties pro­vided many win­ners through the years with the ex­per­tise of Vicki and Den­nis Kneen, Noel Bo­han and the Lill fam­ily.

Bo­han pre­pared the smart Bow Ven­ture and Etzel Girl as well as delectably the best bitch from Rock­hamp­ton in that era, Un­wanted Flyer.

Vicki and Den­nis Kneen put the col­lar on many good dogs over the years.

One of their star grey­hounds, Solid Gam­ble, held the track record for many years over the 510m jour­ney.

Next week we’ll con­tinue our walk down mem­ory lane.

What grey­hounds do you think will fea­ture?


PAWNOTE: The full ver­sion of this ar­ti­cle was first printed in Brian Smith’s pub­li­ca­tion A Pro­file of Sport in Rock­hamp­ton and District.

Photo: Courtesy of Just Grey­hound Pho­tos

RE­LEASE THE HOUNDS: Fire to Rain wins the 2018 Rocky Cup at Cal­laghan Park.

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