Darren McDonald with Elmer's Gift, who is one of the favourites in Saturday night's GRV
Vic Breeders Maiden Final at The Meadows. COURTESY PAUL MUNT PHOTOGRAPHY.
CHAMPION TRAINER TO RISE FROM ADVERSITY
Having emerged from hopefully the darkest chapter in a personal journey from hell, champion greyhound trainer Darren McDonald is on the cusp of returning to the greyhound racing limelight.
Dealing with Parkinson’s disease in recent years has made life tough for McDonald, along with his wife Joanne and three children Dylan (14), Ned (11) & Ruby (6).
Last November the five of them headed to Queensland for six weeks so McDonald could receive the best treatment available, however while up north a lump was discovered in a gland in Dylan’s neck.
“We had the lump checked out while we were up there and Dylan was diagnosed with cancer,” the Devon Meadows trainer recalled.
“His condition has improved and he is currently in remission, but you are never out of the woods with something like that (cancer).”
Darren is upbeat about his own health, admitting that it has been a slow but sure recovery since his operation ten months ago.
“I actually feel pretty good these days. I struggle to drive at night but apart from that I’m not too bad. I’m slowly improving and it is great to be training greyhounds again,” he said.
Before going to Queensland last year Darren had to part ways with his powerful team of race dogs, and he ceased training for about eight months before returning to the fold in the middle of this year.
“I gave most of my dogs away to a number of different trainers including Peter Dapiran and Jason Mackay.”
“I’ve now got a kennel of 10 which is a lot less than it once was in the days when I had up to 25 dogs. I was a workaholic in those days but I have a different outlook on life now.”
“I still apply the same training methods and do all the things I used to do, but the difference is that with a smaller team I am able to spend more quality time with my family.”
“People can easily get caught up in their work but I’m determined not to get to that point again” - DARREN McDONALD
“People can easily get caught up in their work but I’m determined not to get to that point again,” McDonald said.
He believes that greyhound racing in Victoria is in excellent shape, and he scoffs at suggestions that the increasing success of NSW breeder Paul Wheeler in this state has all but squashed the chances of others winning feature races.
“If you work hard enough and smart enough everyone gets a turn. It works in cycles.”
“Anyone that thinks it’s tough to survive in greyhound racing need look no further than the 24 city races being held in Melbourne each week which each pay a minimum $5,000 for the win.”
“What Paul Wheeler has achieved is quite amazing but he has gone to enormous expense. But no one breeder or trainer can dominate everything forever,” he said.
If McDonald can find optimism after everything he and his family have been through of late, then anyone can.
THE MEADOWS FORMGUIDE
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