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 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?
‘‘ NORM WAS PARTICULARLY NOTED FOR HIS LOVE OF ‘BLUE DOGS’ AND THE ‘DARVILLE’ LINE ESTABLISHED A BIG FOLLOWING.
PAWNOTE: The full version of this article was first printed in Brian Smith’s publication A Profile of Sport in Rockhampton and District.
RELEASE THE HOUNDS: Fire to Rain wins the 2018 Rocky Cup at Callaghan Park.