Sunday Territorian 31 Jul 2016
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
18 FRONTIER NEWS FEATURE SUNDAY JULY 31 2016 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 STORY MATT GARRICK PHOTOS JUSTIN KENNEDY & IVAN RACHMAN Down south the death knell has sounded on an institution, with the racing of greyhounds being banned next year. But in the NT its a different story ... go to the toilet again, then they settle for the day. Leta views their domestic situation with the Zen calm of a Japanese samurai. Weve lived in the bus for 26 years. Thats fine. I dont find it difficult at all. A small compound of caravanners like Leta and Smiley dwell and raise dogs on the property, sharing resources to look after their prized pets; their lank and slobbering potential money spinners. But like the life of samurai, there is a code which must remain unbroken, or else one faces being forsaken and turned away from the track forever. If you get caught doping, and you live on this property, you will be told to leave. End of story, tells Smiley. According to him, just one racer has been expelled from the track in the past year. MANY of those who congregate atthe Darwin doggies have a familiar tale of upbringing. Greyhounds were a part of their lives for as long as they can remember. Their dads and grandads had hounds, now they continue the dog-loving dynasty for many, their children are settling into the industry as well. One such is born and bred Top End sheila Sonya Seubert, whose father John Jacko Howard used to drive the parks lure the fake bunny which motors around the racetrack. Now her daughters Shanae, 20, and Alisha, 17, are getting involved as trainers. Your dogs are your babies, Sonya says. They are just the most beautiful animals. She lifts her love of greyhounds to a level many would forbid. I take my (five) dogs in the lounge to watch TV with me. And every time they know Im going to put em back in their kennel, they stick their head between the cushions. They all do it. And a couple of them are so stubborn they will not move. You have to carry them. They are funny like that. Trainer Peter Donnelley, with a note of adoration in his twangy accent, agrees. Theyre better than having a wife. You can get home late and theyre happy to see ya, he laughs. You get home late and your missus is goin crook at ya. Donnelley, who entered the industry in Albury, NSW, when he was 18, is concerned the rising political tide against greyhounds could eventually infect the NT. All this shit thats goin on with the dogs I agree, they should get right up em, he says about the impending southern ban. But dont get things out of perspective. TRACKSIDE at theDarwin doggies, everyone has a hot tip. The level of heat attached to each particular suggestion may waver depending on how many drinks the tipster has imbibed and how much bias he or she may have connected to a certain hound. Pete Donnelly owns just one dog these days and, in tribute to the lukewarm tipsters, shes named Gossip Park. It was named after the track here, cause of all the gossip goin on, he hoots in laughter. Some people reckoned it was a stupid name, others reckon it was a good name. But its all in fun Theyre all good people in the dogs. Former president now treasurer of the Darwin Greyhound Association committee, Robbie Brennan, advises any tip should be taken with lashings of salt grains. You can go to 10 mouths here and get 10 different tips, he admits. There are a lot of hot tips, but how good they are is another story. If you come here regularly and talk to people and sort the bulldust from the bullshit We all think we know, but weve mostly got empty pockets. WITH Cup Day here, interstatetrainers have rolled in ready to compete for the kitty. One is Stephen Whyte from Bunyip, Victoria, a formidable competitor who has taken out the past two annual races with boom hounds Superfonic and Clash of Kings. Now hes back and vying for round three. According to Whyte, and despite who wins, the main event often occurs directly after the final race is run. After the last, its a pretty good time. Most people get out and have a couple beers together and we all swap a few yarns, hang a bit of crap on each other and its a really enjoyable time, says the champ. Ive been here for three weeks already and Ive been very sick on Monday for those three weeks. One of Darwins young gun trainers, 21-year-old Jamie Hosking, agreed the best aspect of the Cup was the camaraderie. Getting to know all new people and just mixing in with everyone else, Hosking says. Its also the circus atmosphere of the occasion. As steward David Creeper tells it, theres something about working at the track that you find very entertaining. Its the people and their passion for the greyhounds, he says. Theres nothing more rewarding than seeing their hard work of training, and seeing it through to the race. And thats what gets me. WHILE Premier Baird and hisbuddies prepare for their ban to be implemented in NSW, up in the Top End things are just getting interesting. With a decent influx of private and government funding, and a growing greyhound community, the Territorys industry is hitting its stride. Treasurer Robbie Brennan gestures to the air-conditioned kennel, to the spotlights above the track. When he set foot on the scene 20 years ago, all that stood in the park was a tin shed. We are really reaping dividends. We have never been in a better place, he says. Weve got 11 races tonight. Its not that many years ago it wouldve taken us three weeks to have 11 races. Theres a bittersweet element to the success after decades of battling, the Darwin doggies are starting to peak just as the potential domino of NSW has fallen. But Brennan sees the bright side. Were one of the only tracks in Australia where they bring the dogs back so the kids can come out and pat em. And thats huge thats an absolute asset to us, and its the envy of a lot of other tracks weve come a long way. The lure grinds along its rail and the dogs are off and running. Tipsters stand clutching their TAB tickets tight for the thrill at possible glory on a Sunday night and the certainty of a sore head on Monday morning. The Darwin Greyhound Associations Darwin Cup runs tonight at Winnellie Park, gates open 4pm. A dog day afternoon Sonya Seubert and Darwin Greyhound Association treasurer Robbie Brennan, left I N the land of cool beaches and cockroaches known as New South Wales, a new law has been laid down. A man known across the Twittersphere as #casinomike announced this month the long loved but increasingly scandalous sport of greyhound racing would be banned in the region by 2017. The pious Premier Mike Bairds decision to do so will mean the end of the industrys nefarious underbelly activities like live baiting and animal cruelty. For many it will also mark the demise of cheap beer in plastic cups held high in rapture as a pack of panting doggies come rollicking round the bend of a dirt track. But far away, in another tropical dimension, the sport still stands strong. Separate from the souths doping scandals and greed to win, the NTs small but burgeoning greyhound community is bound by a love of dogs and a thirst for camaraderie, competition and bourbon. Tonight, the charming and cheeky characters of the Top Ends greyhound racing industry will meet for their flagship night of nights the Darwin Cup for doggies. The stakes may be lower than those on offer for the fillies tomorrow at Fannie Bay, but you better believe the hot tips, screaming highs of a win and prolific pouring of beverages will give the horses a run for their money. AN overpowering odour of dog. Apuddle of piss. A medley of yelps and yaps emitting from inside a fluorescent-lit kennel. A collection of colourful silks hanging from hooks like discarded clown clothing. A growing gaggle of spectators fingering programs, talking smack and sinking stubbies huddled in unison around the fence. Spotlights shower the track, ready for the four-legged stars to burst from their boxes. Welcome to Winnellie Park, minutes before race time. One of the parks pieces of furniture is Richard Smiley Smith, who lives on the grounds with his wife Leta, their kids, and 12 hounds in a double-decker bus. The pooches sleep outside, in case you were wondering. Smileys also an aspiring politician, running for the seat of Spillett in the upcoming Territory election. You can hear em crankin up now, he grins, proudly displaying a missing front tooth and a plausible reason for his nickname. After moving to the complex two years ago, the doggies have become the epicentre of Smileys existence. You gotta get up at 6 oclock in the morning, get em out, get em breakfast, let em go to the toilet, clean the cages and go away for a couple hours. Then come back, let em out again,