Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club

Tara Raceway, Lake Terrace East, Mount Gambier, SA

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When trainers were tough and the dogs even tougher

Thursday, May 4, 2017

So, in the quest for further memorabilia for the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s proposed display, who better to check out than long-time participant Ralph Patzel of Mount Gambier?

He reckoned that he had a “bit of stuff” and was as good as his word when coming up with a box of trophies – leading trainer, leading owner, leading brood bitch, most consistent greyhound – you name it and he had a trophy for it.

Ralph Patzel . . . from an era when the trainers were tough and the greyhounds even tougher.

And plastic shopping bags full of old race programmes which brought back memories of trainers and greyhounds of a bygone era.

Patzel, these days a trainer, lure driver and MGGRC committee member, boasts the distinction of having won the first official greyhound race run behind the mechanical lure at Glenburnie back in July 1979 with Aqualair, a 3/1 chance in a maiden 289 metre event.

Also among the shopping bags were a set of coursing slips – used by the slipper to release the greyhounds in pairs – and a swag of knitted red and white collars, worn by the dogs in order that the judge could signify a winner.

Back in the early 70s when the South East Greyhound Racing Club was still looking for a suitable spot for its “tin hare” track, coursing reigned supreme out at Mil Lel and it was here that Patzel won the 1973 Derby with the appropriately named Missight.

“I remember him well,” Patzel recalled this week. “He was by Holding out of Cranley Rose and bred by Lew Waite of Edenhope.

“The Derby was a 16-dog stake so to win the event he had to run four times over two days. They certainly bred them tougher back then.”

Missight who won the 1973 Coursing Derby at Mil Lel for Ralph Patzel.

Four years later Patzel was at the Hartley coursing grounds, south of Adelaide, for the ninety-second running of the Waterloo Cup with a dog called Lord Dudley, a son of Missight and Kaikobad Lass.

And while the Derby might have been tough going, it paled in comparison to the Waterloo Cup, run in July on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for 64 all-aged greyhounds.

Lord Dudley did pretty well, winning his first four courses – a fair sort of achievement in itself – before being defeated in a semi-final.

“That was a pretty tough week for both the trainer and dog,” Patzel said. “Probably tougher for the dog seeing he had to run five times. We got $60 for reaching the last four and that was after paying a $20 nomination fee.”

The first public coursing stake is believed to have been run at Naracoorte (originally spelt Narracoorte) in June 1867 and won by Willie Smith’s Ranger while the last coursing meeting was run at Mintaro in July 1986.

The original form of coursing was subsequently replaced with drag lure coursing – still run today at Virginia in SA and the Victorian venues of Longwood, Benalla and Lang Lang.

However, from a coursing point of view, Ralph Patzel will tell you that nothing will ever beat the good old days when the trainers were tough and the greyhounds even tougher.



Another 12-race card at Tara Raceway on Sunday will complement Friday’s time-graded meeting and be highlighted by the South Eastern Hotel Stake (512 m).

The six-dog Free For All will see the return clash of Cryer’s Jack and Blitz And Bolt who fought out the AGRC Cup last Sunday.

Adding further interest to the race will be the Peter Crawley trained Zuma Creek who created a huge impression when winning at the local track over 512 metres in a best of day 29.99 seconds on April 23.

Zuma Creek should appreciate the return to Tara Raceway after missing the start at Sandown Park last Sunday and then looking lost on the track.

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