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20.12.2008, 13:42


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: 31.5.2005
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Posted on GD by Queensland Greyhound Journal's Editor David Brasch after interviewing both of Aussie's best two trainers...

Jason Thompson's regime:

Just thought I would share with you all an article I have written for the November Qld Greyhound Journal.
Jason Thompson sat down with me a few months ago and gave me an insight into his training methods and thoughts on all things greyhounds.
If this helps anyone, then that's what it is all about.
Here it is:
JASON Thompson was 13 when he first started going greyhound racing in Victoria, fitting it in between his passion for footy. He and his family lived at Traralgon at the time.
Our neighbour raced a dog called Mr Christian who was trained by Marg Long and I tagged along when the neighbour went racing, said Jason. That was pretty often at the time because Mr Christian won about 30 provincial races during his long career.
I started following Marg around to the dog tracks, said Jason. Id play footy on Saturday and back up at the dogs on Saturday night.
Jason was still 13 when Marg and Jasons neighbour gave him Mr Christian to train.
It had to be in Dads (Jack) name but I was training him, and another one also, he said. Mr Christian won a race as a five-year-old at Traralgon. It was a huge thrill.
From that moment school came second, footy went by the way when he was 17, and Jason was never without a greyhound.
Dogs were my passion, he said. Marg was secretary at Traralgon at the time and I got odd jobs working at the club on race nights, in the catching pen, kennels, you name it.
It wasnt long after this that Jason was introduced to Kevin Richards then one of the states leading greyhound trainers and studmaster to the champion sire Chariot Supreme.
Jason got to train a dog for Kevin and when he was 18 took that dog for a two week holiday at Kevins stud and training complex.
I stayed for 10 years, he said. And once I got there, I knew thats what I wanted to do in life. It was also the best start in my career that I could ever have got.
Of all the things Kevin Richards taught Jason Thompson, professionalism was the foremost. He told me you dont get anywhere without working hard, said Jason.
From that time I decided to stay in the right group of people because what they do will rub off on you.
By the time Jason was 23, Kevin had retired from training.
I became a public trainer and everything just grew from there, he said.
Light Of Fire came along to thrust Jason Thompson into the greyhound world spotlight. The son of New Tears-Centrefire won the 1994 Melbourne Cup for Jason as well as the Silver Chief and ran a record in the Traralgon Cup. It was just the start he needed, but not quite.
The Melbourne Cup was worth $50,000 that year and the next year it went up to $100,000, said Jason. That hurt.
While this initial success doesnt get any better in five years Jason had got stale. He cut back to just one or two dogs for a few years.
Not just any dog, but Awesome Assassin (Light Of Fire-Tranquil Flame) who won the Silver Chief and set eight track records and became a champion stud dog.
It was good to have a break, he said. It was also the time I hooked up with Seona, the best thing that ever happened to me.
Seonas father is Ron Hood who at one time was secretary manager at Ballarat. Marg Long is her stepmother.
Awesome Assassin retired, Jason turned 30, and he and Seona branched out into stud work.
We had six race dogs by then and that was our team for four or five years, he said.
In 2003 they decided to buy a five-acre property at Pearcedale south of Cranbourne. We sunk everything we had into the property and by that time had a lot of good owners and a lot of good dogs, he said.
Those dogs included Hotshow Vintage, Monsters Inc, Whisky Assassin, the Proven line of dogs and more recently Run's House, Suave Fella, Whippys Image, Miss Hot Gossip and El Galo.
Brett Lee had a brief stint in the kennel towards the end of his career.
From Pearcedale, Jason and Seona along with their three children Ben, 11, Luke, 7, and Holly, 5, have been building on their kennel, building on their reputation and building on their credentials, to today when they are among the most sought after trainers in the land.
So what then is their recipe for success?

Jason Thompson has been through all the fads, all the feeding routines, and settled on basic.
Meat and kibble is about it. In the morning every dog gets two 2x2 Box 1 biscuits. No fluids are fed.
For the night meal, the dogs are fed very lean beef and Hills Science Diet. Added to that meal is potassium in a soluble form, a liver tablet and a Thyroxine tablet nothing else with the exception of about 400 to 500mls of hot water.
They get the same morning and evening meals, seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, he said. We dont change anything.
Jason says he went through the stage of whatever was on the shelf at the feed store, we had to try.
Over the years we tried everything, but I believe the longer you are in greyhound racing, the less of that stuff you use, he said. Whether people believe me or not, that is exactly what we feed.
He is a stickler for getting regular blood tests on each racing dog in his kennel, and regularly takes each dog to the vet for a muscle check, at least every two weeks.

He worms every dog on the property every six weeks and changes his wormers regularly. He chooses between Exelpet, Ivomec, Ambex, Drontal etc, claiming variety is often the best to keep on top of worms.

Jason and Seona are ever aware of the importance of hygiene in their kennels.
We vacuum the kennels and the dog beds every day, he said.
Thats what I do for a job and I cant ask the dogs to perform if they are not kept in safe, warm in winter, cool in summer kennels that are clean and hygienic.
Every dog sleeps on a big thick doona on a board that is raised one brick height above the ground.

In winter, the Thompson kennel gets roused into action about 7.15am, earlier in summer.
I walk all my dogs every day, even on race day, he said.
The dogs are emptied first thing and then all go on the walking machine at a fast pace for 14 minutes. I know thats an odd time but thats how long they are on the machine. The walker takes four dogs at a time. The only time they dont go on the walker is the day AFTER a race.
Then they go into an acre galloping paddock to free gallop, always in pairs.
He will put younger dogs into his 70m competition runs to put some added and much needed fitness into them when starting their training.
Once a week each dog is galloped over 350m up a straight track. I ALWAYS put my dogs behind a drag lure, never whistle them up. It opens their lungs up and I believe thats enough for them, he said.

Every dog in the kennel goes to local vet Barry Hayward at least twice a month. Jason says, in his opinion, Barry is the best greyhound vet in the country.
I go over the dogs myself but Im not a dog checker and dont profess to be. Some people can go overboard in getting dogs checked, and some not enough.
We keep four broodbitches on our property and probably have two or three litters of our own each year, he said. Weve got two pup yards in which we keep the pups until they are four or five months old.
They are then sent to a variety of rearers like Marty Hallinan, Sue Marsh at Blue Gums, or Karen Leek.

Jason has a specific routine for his young dogs and all go through it over a period of about three months before starting in a race.
He usually takes a youngster after it has been broken in, spelled and then given a six to eight week stint of pre-training which involves a couple of weeks up the straight and four runs on a racetrack to give him some gauge on what times they can run.
Each pup joining his kennel gets straight into the daily routine of walking and free galloping.
I give them two runs up the 350m straight a week apart and then they go to Warragul for a 350m hand slip, he said.
That is followed by three 347m solo trials around Geelong a week apart.
They are then taken to Sandown for two handslips post to post, again a week apart.
Its then back to Warragul for a 424m solo trial and the following week for a two-dog trial over the same distance.
We then go back to Geelong for two 457m trials, one solo and the next week one in a two-dog trial, he said.
Im prepared to do that early education program. We will maybe give them a 350m run up the straight behind the drag lure between those trials. We stop the work in the competition runs by the time we head to Warragul for the 424m trials.
Jason also likes to get two 520m trials, one each at Sandown and The Meadows, into his pups BEFORE they start racing.
I believe some people make the mistake of not stepping their dogs up to 520m soon enough, he said. You will see them educate the pup and go straight into a race over 457m without stretching the dog to 520m.
I believe it can often teach a dog to get only 457m.
Every dog can run 520m, some faster than others. I believe it is important to get a dog up to 520m, generally about 19 or 20 months.
I also believe a lot of people are too soft on their dogs.
After those two 520m trials we then have a very fit dog, ready to race and we then start to look around for a race.
Because many of the dogs Jason gets are Victorian bred, he will often look for added money Victorian-bred maiden series at provincial tracks.

The normal routine is kept up to every dog in the kennel every day.
We will put them on the walker and free gallop them in the acre paddock on the morning of a race, he said. We do this because we want the dogs to settle all day.
A change in routine is a good signal that something different is happening and I dont want that going on with any of my dogs.
They get worked up enough when they go to the trailer for the trip to the races.
He does change his training with stayers.
With sprinters I will give them the straight gallop on Wednesday between racing at The Meadows, but with stayers I will give them a 457m or 520m trial on the Wednesday between Saturday races.
Jason is adamant no-one can make a slow dog run fast, but just as adamant some trainers can make a fast dog run slow.
If you dont look after a dog, get them checked regularly, do the right thing by them, it can happen, he said.
He says you will know very early on if there is a good dog in the kennel by the dogs demeanour. Most good dogs have got good habits. Pups will show you that straight away.
The Thompson/Hood kennels are full all the time. But we always have room for a fast dog.
He added he has been very fortunate to have owners ringing up constantly with the offer of dogs to train. I can honestly say I have NEVER rung to ask an owner for a dog from another trainer, he said.
Brett Lee is the best dog he has seen race. Jason trained him for only a short time at the end of his career.
The best dog I have trained throughout its career is Awesome Assassin, but Hotshow Vintage was an amazing dog as well winning six Group finals, he said.
When travelling his dogs throughout the country he says he does nothing different. I like to arrive the day before a race, he said.
I dont give the dog fluids before the plane trip but that depends on just how far the dog is flying. Some dogs adapt to flying, others dont. I believe too many people have a phobia about flying dogs, its not that difficult.
He also is adamant he never uses a hydrobath. I dont believe it is natural for a dog and I dont believe in it, he said.
My dogs are groomed every day, brushed and kept clean that way. In summer after a race they are drenched. I dont massage at all. I would rather see the dog asleep and resting after they have raced or galloped than being massaged etc.
Thats just me and my dogs are pretty happy dogs.
Jason is meticulous around his kennels. "I even get my dog trailers detailed every month to keep them clean, he said.
His advice to young trainers starting out is to work hard and dont keep slow dogs.
If you are getting into greyhound racing professionally, it helps to have a partner who will work with you, he said.
Seona and I are a great partnership and she is the best asset I have.
He also has one permanent worker at all times in the kennels. It used to be Wayne Vasallo until he went training himself, now it is Phil Bonnacurso.
They are outstanding people and outstanding workers, said Jason.
He believes breeding is everything in successful greyhounds.
Good bloodlines will win out in the end, he says. The broodbitch has got to be a good race bitch and got to be well bred. Good race bitches keep producing the best dogs. Just look at Peter Giles damline that comes from Floodgate.
I know some of the very best bitches have not produced as would have been expected, but generally good race bitches do.
As for stud dogs, he says temperament is everything.
Look at how many fast dogs go to stud every year, but only a few of them make it, he said. I believe temperament has a big influence and Ive seen this proven over many years.
There are a couple of well known stud dogs about now that had very poor temperaments. I believe they will be able to produce a few with ability, but generally their stock will not live up to expectations.
Thats one reason Jason cannot wait to get El Galo (Wheres Pedro-Roxy Reason) to stud. The Gold Coast Cup winner has everything. Just like Jason Thompson.

Darren McDonald's regime:

WHEN greyhound men sit around these days and talk about great trainers, Darren McDonald is always among their list of the best.
Darren, 38, is the Devon Meadows (Victoria) trainer who always has a high class greyhound in his kennel. Brett Lee was one, Pure Octane another. In between those is an endless list of quality dogs.
Darren admits he gets chased regularly to train dogs and has his pick of some ready-made stars.
But he, like everyone, has had to do it tough over the years, cutting his teeth on slow dogs, gradually getting better quality, right up to today when he has his choice of the best.
Darren agreed to talk to Journal Editor DAVID BRASCH about his training methods.
Hes meticulous, dedicated and deserves every winner he gets. This is his story.

DARREN McDonald has been training greyhounds since he was 16 when living with his parents at Warrnambool. He moved to Melbourne when he was 20 with an ambition to make a living out of greyhound racing.
That hes done and more.
Today he trains out of a two and a half acre property at Devon Meadows just a stones throw to Cranbourne. He is married to Joanne and they have three children, Dylan, Ned and Ruby.
His training complex comprises 25 kennels, set in two kennel blocks, one containing his five stud dogs and 10 of the cream of racing dogs. The other kennel block houses 10 young pups in various stages of their early education. There are empty out yards for everyday use.
He has a 100 metre long by 20 metre wide galloping paddock.
Darren and his neighbour Paul Westerveld share a 300 metre straight track.
There are 20 greyhounds in training on the McDonald property every day of every week of every year.

McDonald says he feeds simply.
Each dog gets a 4x2 biscuit for breakfast. In the cold of Victoria there is no need to feed fluids to the dogs in the morning, he says, unless the dog has trialled or galloped up the straight.
The evening meal is just as simple.
We feed Hills Science Diet as our dry food and have been using it for the past 10 or 12 years, he said.
Bitches receive 5 ounces of Hills, dogs get either 7 or 8 ounces.
Each bitch on the property gets 1.5lbs of meat, the dogs get between 1.5lbs and 2lbs depending on how well they do, their weight, the temperature etc.
Each dog is an individual on my property and we feed, train and race them as such, he said.
McDonald never uses vitamins.
Hills Science Diet is the total package, he said. I was put onto it by my long time vet (the late) Alex Hauler when it first came out about 10 to 12 years ago. Alec had done a fair bit of research into the product and found it perfect.
One of the first dogs I used it on was Ashigga and he won the Shepparton Cup on it a few weeks later.
Ive been using it ever since. I reckon I was one of the first to use the product.
It conditions the dogs well and the fat content is a bit higher. But when I get a new dog and it goes onto Hills Science Diet, you can see the change in the appearance of their coat.
In Victoria dogs tend to burn up more fat, so we need a dry product that contains more fat to replace that.
Just before the dogs dinners are fed, one and a half cups of warm water is mixed into the feed.
The dinner is fed to the dogs immediately.
Darren weighs his dogs only once a week, but keeps careful watch on every dog on the property.

Greyhounds on the McDonald property are wormed every two months, and each time it is done with a different wormer.
We dont have any preference, just that we are regular with our worming and we change regularly, he said.
Each dog is given a bone for their teeth every two weeks. We put them out in a yard (weather permitting) by themselves to chew on the bone, he said.

McDonald knows that greyhounds are a breed best suited by routine and that certainly is the case on his property.
He starts his dogs at 7am (in winter 7am is generally daylight in Victoria). Every dog is let out of their kennel into a small empty-out yard. Two or three dogs are let into these yards together.
Once the first eight dogs have emptied, they are put onto the eight-dog rotary walker, a bit like a huge clothes line, for 40 minutes. Every dog on the property gets his/her 40 minutes on the walker.
In the meantime, the kennels and yards are cleaned, the next lot put out etc.
McDonald says he was the most avid pupil of the late, great Ned Bryant. I learnt so much from Ned. He was a genius, said Darren.
He said it was a great guide to watch a dog walking first thing in the morning. Problems could be identified quickly at this time, and Ive been doing that every day ever since.
Once the eight dogs have been on the walker for 40 minutes, Darren himself takes them two or three at a time for a free gallop into his 100mx20m paddock.
If they want to gallop, we let them, he said. If they want to walk by my side, thats fine too. Depending on what the dog has been doing, racing, trialling etc, some will work in the paddock, some will not.
McDonald says he is finished by 10am each day.
Most of our work is done in the mornings, he said.
The dogs are again let out around lunchtime for 10 to 15 minutes, again together in two or three in the same yard.
At 3.30 the evening meal is prepared and each dog is fed.
We always feed the evening meal at 3.30pm and then we let them out, he said.
They stay out while we are washing the feed bowls, cleaning the kennels etc. We vacuum the kennels twice a day.
It takes us two hours to do the dogs in the afternoon.

All dogs are individuals and we train and race them as that, he said.
McDonald does not gallop his dog much between races.
They might have one gallop if we think they need it, generally we dont, he said. We prefer the daily 40-minute walk and the free gallop in the paddock.
McDonald remains to this day in awe of the genius of Ned Bryant. Ned died about 15 years ago, but before he did, he would come around every day and we would talk dogs, said Darren.
He said a greyhound has just 100 good runs in it, and that includes gallops up the straight behind a lure, a trial on a track and a race, he said. And I reckon that is so true.
McDonald says he never plans more than one race ahead.
We all know so much can happen to a dog, he said. While it might be great to look ahead at Group races in the coming months, you should really only seriously look at one race ahead.
And remember, every trial is one less race you are going to win. I would rather win a race than a trial.

The McDonald kennel always has 10 dogs in full work and another 10 on their way through.
You have always got to have young dogs coming through to fill the kennel when dogs break down, retire etc etc, he said.
I get a lot of dogs from different people. It depends on who gives me the dog what education needs to be done.
McDonald only ever has two or three pups being reared on his property at any one time, preferring someone else to do that side of the business and specially because his is a racing kennel and not really set up for rearing.
I never send my pups away to be broken in before they are 14 months old, he said. I like to hold them back because I do not spell them after breaking in.
He will bring the pups into the kennel block for a few weeks of handling to get used to the kennel block routine, being handled etc before they are educated.
He does not gallop the pups up a straight track prior to breaking in, but they do go into his 100mx20m galloping paddock each day.

Once a dog is broken in, McDonald NEVER returns the dog to a trial track unless there is an issue with the dogs chasing instincts.
I keep going with the dog after it comes home from breaking in, he said.
I like to keep a young dog coming out of the boxes and I will trial the dog on eight or 10 different tracks before we put them into a race.
He usually heads to Geelong for two 347m trials, then to Warragul for two 424m trials. I insist on educating our pups very well and on a lot of tracks. We have the luxury of having a lot of different tracks within a short drive from our kennels, he said.
All these early trials are solo.
My pups will have six to eight solo trials, which means two runs on four different tracks, before I get ready to put them into field trials, he said.
Being Darren McDonald causes problems as well.
I find it really hard to get trainers to go in against my young dogs in half field trials, he said.
But trials are held after race meetings at Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Geelong and Warragul and we will take the pups there for half field trials. You have to go into these trials to get a run after the race meeting.
This is where we educate our pups even further.
We go twice to every track for a half field trial.

McDonald says the grading system in Victoria often forces dogs into city races before they are ready.
But Axe Handle had 25 starts on provincial tracks before he had his first start in town, he said. But Pure Octane never had a race on a provincial track.
Ned Bryant told McDonald many, many words of wisdom, but the one piece of advice he instilled into him was to always make sure a dog trialled on a racetrack before having a race there.
I have done this religiously, he said. I always make the effort even if we are racing in Brisbane, Sydney or Perth.
It gives me peace of mind and does the same for the dog. I train for a lot of people and I am sure they would want every thing possibly done to win the race. Trialling on the track is one of those things.

Darren was lucky to begin with. His uncle was Brian Lenahan one of Victorias most successful breeders.
I spent a lot of time working on my uncles property feeding pups and generally working with the dogs, getting to know everything about them, he said. He had the Sydney Gem line and Ned Bryant trained Sydney Dingaan to win the Melbourne Cup.
One of the first dogs Darren got to train was Sydney Dingaan. Shed had a litter of pups and was brought back to racing for a short campaign of seven starts. Darren won four and was placed second three times with her.
He says Brett Lee is easily the best dog he has trained.
He has changed the face of greyhound racing in Australia, said Darren. We paid $100,000 for him but now owners think nothing of pay $250,000 for a half share in a potential stud dog.
He says Brett Lee knew he was a superstar.
He pranced around like he owned the place. He knew he was good, said Darren. Look at what he has done. Hes taken service fees to a new level, dog prices to a new level, and pup prices to a new level, all because of him.
But Brett Lee isnt the only star to have emerged from Devon Meadows. Darren has guided such dogs as Pure Octane, Hallucinate, Collide, Wild Pirate, Black Pirate, Sheedy, Magnificent Love, Ashigga, Carlton Bale, Hades Rocket and now Axe Handle and even Texas Gold at the end of his career.
Cool Effort is a current day star and he had great success with Ace Hi Rumble and Hot To Rumble recently.

McDonald is insistent that greyhound training is not the army.
We treat each dog as an individual, he said.
And we dont really give a dog a spell mainly because injuries are such a factor in greyhound racing that they get time off with each injury, especially fast dogs.
He only ever races his dogs at most once a week. Thats just the way I train, he said. Im not saying that you cant race two of three times a week, but its just not my style.
But there is no right or wrong way to training, just a system that suits each individual dog.
Hes not one to consider the close in-breeding of todays greyhounds.
You might get a faster dog but by breeding so close we tend to get more injuries, he warned.

He has spent so much time and learnt so much from that great man of muscle checking, Ned Bryant, Darren says he checks his dogs over himself after every gallop, trial or race.
But he also gets local vet Barry Hayward to check over every racing dog as well after every race start.
Barry worked for so many years with Alex Hauler and he is just around the corner from my kennels, so we use him all the time, he said.
You have always got to have a second opinion. Ned taught me that himself. He would always check over his own dogs, but always get a second opinion. You need a mentor.
He has all the necessary equipment like an ultrasound and laser but has become a huge fan of the hyperbaric chamber.
I had never used it before until just recently and got unbelievable results from it, he said.

Darren McDonald sees himself doing in the future exactly what he is doing today.
Prizemoney is good, the racing is good. I know we dont have the perfect world in greyhound racing, but show me where the perfect world is, he said.
He agrees that to stay at the top you need the best stock. But getting the best out of them is something you have to do, he said.
But anyone who dedicates himself or herself to this industry will do well.
He says John Finn and Steve Kavanagh are two greyhound men he admires. They are the complete package, breeding, rearing, and training their dogs to great success, he said. There is a lot of satisfaction and achievement in doing that.
His great mate Tony Lockett continues to send him star gallopers. Tony and I have been friends for many years. Hes got himself some great damlines now and we are all reaping the benefit.
Thats for sure.


- ,   , .   20.12.2008, 13:42
- -   - ...   20.12.2008, 16:35
|- - ,   ( @ Dec 20 2008, 15:35) ...   20.12.2008, 17:09
- - GREYHOUND_RACE   , , ...   22.12.2008, 15:42
- -   , , , ...   22.12.2008, 16:03
|- - GREYHOUND_RACE   ( @ Dec 22 2008, 15:03) ...   22.12.2008, 17:22
- -   PROMTa ( ...   22.12.2008, 19:57
|- - GREYHOUND_RACE   ( @ Dec 22 2008, 18:57) ...   23.12.2008, 19:11
|- - ,   , ...   29.12.2008, 15:17
|- -   (, @ Dec 29 2008, 14:1...   29.12.2008, 17:42
- -   , ...   22.12.2008, 20:25
- - ,   , ...   3.6.2010, 12:53
- - ,   A Brief Take On Breeding What type of sire would ...   29.3.2011, 10:10
- - GREYHOUND_RACE   , , , ...   31.3.2011, 21:41

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