At the time of writing, Victoria again finds itself in stage 4 lockdown.
I had been very much looking forward to attending The Meadows for the first week of the Australian Cup Carnival, which unfortunately fell in the middle of this lockdown. It made me reflect on the last time I visited another jurisdiction to enjoy a night of racing and catching up with participants and the staff from the controlling bodies and clubs.
It was before the Melbourne lockdowns in March 2020 when I visited WA for the Perth Cup. I also had the opportunity to attend and speak at the inaugural Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) Ladies of Chasing Awards. WA put on a spectacular day for the lunch at Bathers Beach House in Freemantle, attended by close to 100 men and women from the industry.
Every single woman nominated in the four categories at the RWWA Ladies of Chasing Awards would have been a worthy winner. However, those recognised as the leaders in their category were: Cheryl Isaac, Greyhound Welfare; Linda Britton, Leadership; Kathy Scott, Dedication to Greyhound Racing; and Kelly Frampton for Administration.
Thinking about how prevalent the topic of equity for women has become globally, and based on my experience across other industries, I think we punch above our weight in terms of gender diversity. There’s always room for more women, however, my observation would be that there are no barriers to entry for women in our greyhound industry. And, that our industry can truly be a family affair.
A great example of an intergenerational family with women front and centre is that of 18-year-old trainer Kayla Cottrell. Following in her parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps, Kayla continued her successful run taking out the Rookie Rebel with Fernando Cazz at The Meadows recently. Kayla is a shining example of women in greyhound racing who work toward achieving the ultimate goal in their area of focus. Kayla represents the new generation of greyhound racing women, giving us confidence that the industry is headed in the right direction attracting such impressive young people.
Ipswich (QLD) trainer Pauline Byers has been involved in greyhound racing for over 40 years, working hand-in-hand with her husband Col Byers, until he passed away in September 2019. Pauline is proudly continuing to build the Byers’ greyhound racing legacy with the support of her family.
Pauline won the Ipswich Female Trainer Premiership in 2020 with an impressive 794 points, more than 250 points ahead of her male counterpart! And counts GOTY winner Spring Rock and feature winner Spring Cleo and another smart youngster – Spring Bowler – as just a few of the stars in her kennels. Pauline has continued from where Col left off and is doing him and herself proud, without a doubt!
In NSW, Karina Britton is one of the latest successful trainers putting the collar and lead on the State’s best sprinter, Wow, now a dual Group 1 winner with victories in the Paws of Thunder and The Temlee. Britton has been involved in greyhound racing for many years, learning from the best in the sport, before having breakout success with Wow, and his brother Ad Astra. She also handled 2006 Golden Easter Egg winner Edie Beauchamp for her mentor Ken Wright and worked closely with her late stepfather Ron Field, the man who bred Wow. It is fantastic to see her achieving incredible results now in her own right.
South Australia’s Lauren Harris became interested in greyhounds watching her mum, a trainer in Whyalla. As soon as she turned 18, Lauren acquired her catcher’s licence and from there has gone on to become one of SA’s top trainers with fiancé Ryan. Lauren is the first SA trainer to take a dog, Shadow Mist, to the Million Dollar Chase final after a winning run in the heats. Since returning to SA, Shadow Mist has been nominated for Greyhound of the Year and won the SA Sprint Championship. On their property near Strathalbyn, Lauren also breeds greyhounds. With Ryan, they are looking after their dogs through retirement and rehoming through GAP.
Inspiring women can also be found in each of the jurisdictions’ controlling bodies and across the greyhound racing clubs. Emily Alessandrino is one such lady. Emily’s interest in greyhounds started with a GAP role in WA, where she was hands-on across all facets of greyhound assessment. This involved dealing directly with registered persons and the potential foster carers. Emily developed an affection for the breed, helping them find their forever homes, and then moved into a stewards role at RWWA. In her role as a steward, Emily is responsible for the tracking of greyhounds, ensuring full compliance with the rules, and maintaining the highest standard of racing integrity. Given her previous experience as a Veterinary Nurse and the GAP, Emily contributes valuable welfare expertise and balance to the Stewards panel. Emily is now Steward in charge at several race meetings and is tremendous support for the Greyhound Stewards panel.
It’s great to be part of an inclusive industry, where all are welcome and have the opportunity to achieve their goals.