Years involved in industry: 40 (approximately)
- Ken Carr Medallist
- Foundation member Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club
- Director & chairman Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association
- Executive member & president Greyhound Owners, Trainers & Breeders Association
- Advisory panel member Racing Appeals Tribunal
- Life member MGRA, Cranbourne GRC, GOTBA
- Trained 1970 Laurels winner – La Rate
Greyhound racing flows freely through the veins of revered administrator Fred Abel.
Fred caught the greyhound racing ‘bug’ the day his mum and dad took him to Harold Park as a 10-year-old. He also recalls attending the opening race meeting at Wentworth Park in the late 1930s.
When he joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an 18-year-old, Fred was already a greyhound owner.
He spent 27 years as a member of the RAAF, and it’s an apt metaphor that his greyhound racing career – as a trainer and, more importantly, as an administrator – also took off and was quickly in full flight.
“I raced my first winner, Whole Wheat, in 1946 at Napier Park in Essendon and at Gracedale Park in Springvale,” Fred said. (The Springvale Council Chambers are now built on the site.)
“The greyhounds in 1946 raced behind a greyhound that was released and given about a 10-length start – that greyhound was called a pacemaker. However, legislation was passed in 1955 that allowed greyhounds to race and chase a mechanical lure.”
In 1970, Fred won the Laurels with La Rate. “It was a great thrill as there were 342 nominations for the series,” Fred said.
Five years earlier, Fred had joined the executive committee of the Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders Association. He was to serve the GOTBA with distinction until 1986, the last eight of those years as president.
“The late 1960s and 1970s were a busy time for the GOTBA as there was a lot of movement out of the suburbs to rural and semi-rural areas by owners and trainers,” Fred said.
“Owners and trainers wanted to have more greyhounds on their properties, which often led to problems securing permits. Subsequently the GOTBA had many deputations and liaisons with councils and town planners – even the Greyhound Racing Control Board – and was always there to assist participants.
In 1973, Fred joined four other greyhound men and formed a committee to seek a licence for a greyhound club to race on the Cranbourne track, which was granted in early 1974.
“Those men were Fred Booth, Jack Biddington, Colin McKaskill and Horrie Tomamichael,” Fred said.
“One Sunday afternoon I received a phone call from Fred (Booth) requesting I attend a meeting. He said ‘we’re going to form a steering committee to get a licence at Cranbourne.
“Baxter and Rye also wanted a track, but fortunately we were successful. “I was a member of the Cranbourne committee from 1974 until 1990.”
Fred was a vociferous champion for the industry’s rank and file.
“In the late 1970s, I was asked by a few trainers who lived on Phillip Island to help them as the local council were about to pass an ordinance banning greyhounds on the island,” Fred said.
“So I appeared before the council and successfully had the ordinance withdrawn. I was concerned that such a ban could have a snowballing effect.”