This article was published in Greyhound Racing Victoria on 12 June 2022.
Recently we’ve seen several of our senior citizens remaining active in a sport they love.
1977 Australian Cup-winning trainer William (Alan) Fairlie, 93, is a case in point.
And Dallas-based veteran trainer Trevor (Lewis) Smith, 86, is in a similar category.
A Wentworth Park track record; Olympian and VFL/AFL schoolmates; an award from the Queen, marking 60 years of marriage; and a T-shirt from the ‘Last Bark at the Park’ – a memento the greyhound racing loving couple have kept, marking the last night of racing at Olympic Park.
It’s all part of the fabric of life for Smith and his wife, Cherie, who RSN racecaller Victoria Shaw caught up with recently at Healesville.
“And that’s where it first started, training for wharfies.”
The Dallas couple have had a longstanding affinity with greyhound racing, stretching as far back as the early 1960s.
And, in the interview with Shaw, the very active octogenarians, who have five children, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, concede: “Greyhound racing keeps us going.”
“I’m not a gardener, I can’t do much else. You meet a lot of friends, as well as travelling, and it keeps you going. And it just makes life worth doing something,” Smith said.
“The excitement of going to the races with your dog… I don’t care if they don’t win, they are there, and you’re with them and it doesn’t matter about the money to me,” Cherie adds.
Smith, a former football coach of the under 17’s Dallas Blues, took up training greyhounds in 1962 when asked by some of his players’ fathers who raced dogs and were less than impressed with the results achieved by their appointed trainers.
“A couple of them used to go around to the pub after training, and I used to go and pick them up half the time, to get them to go to training. Which shouldn’t happen, I know, but their dads were wharfies and very rugged sorts and one of the blokes said, ‘we’ve got a couple of dogs, do you want to train them for us, because the bloke that’s got them has got no idea’.
“And that’s where it first started, training for wharfies,” Smith reflected with a laugh.
A former student at Prahran Tech, Smith went to school with some of the biggest names in Australian sport, including, basketball royalty – Lindsay and Barry Gaze, the father and uncle of Andrew Gaze. As well as several other sporting stars including former Melbourne football player, Frank ‘Bluey’ Adams.
And, although the devoted couple has only two greyhounds currently racing – Hartland Gus (Stagger x Alana Bale) and Runnin’ Riot (Walk Hard x Deadly Prospect) – they have experienced first-hand some of greyhound racing’s biggest thrills at an elite level.
While Smith was working for Graeme Bate, he and Cherie took Xylia Allen to New South Wales and witnessed the former champion set a Wentworth Park 720m track record.
Staying with Jan and the late Paul Wheeler, while traveling interstate on several occasions, the Smiths have made many friends around Australia thanks to greyhound racing.
Additionally, Smith’s son, Brett, initially worked for the Dailly brothers, and then Smith decided to give the Daillys a hand and ended up working for the powerhouse kennel for just over 12 years. Accompanying many four-legged stars interstate and around regional Victoria, including three-time country cups winner Knockabout Wok, which is one of his favourites.
Now at 86 years young, the former panel beater and greyhound trainer’s age may not be the only thing that could surprise you.
The couple’s foray into racing took place at a time when greyhound racing in Australia led the way, well ahead of horse racing, for women’s active participation on the track. And, as a newly married couple, Smith and Cherie got to enjoy greyhound racing, working together, unchallenged.
“I had the chance to catch for Trevor when he was going to the races. And I think GRV (previously Greyhound Racing Control Board) was more advanced using women, than the horse racing fraternity,” Cherie informed Shaw.
Although this adoring couple has been touched by the big time, in many ways, their love of greyhound racing and the greyhound itself, remains unchanged.
Their ability to turn dogs around, who have not been able to perform, at their optimum level, for some of the bigger kennels, is something Smith and Cherie are very proud of.
“I have never bought a greyhound in my life; I only take giveaways and improve them generally. I don’t think I have had one dog that hasn’t won races for me,” Smith concluded.