International Women’s Day is a day to acknowledge women’s achievements, and there is plenty to celebrate in greyhound racing.
Many female trainers, breeders, owners and women rearing greyhounds have had a remarkable 12 months in racing, and there are many more girls and women who work as handlers, kennel attendants, catchers and vets who make a huge contribution to the sport.
Many of them are at the forefront of the sport, and then there are the women behind the scenes who play an important support role. In many cases they do just as many hours travelling and looking after the greyhounds but tend to keep a low profile.
The future is looking bright, with many women making their way through the ranks . We have selected three women to share their stories and perspective, but we could have chosen many, many more.
Kate Gorman believes feels she is making her way closer to the group 1 winner’s circle with Monster Fish, who was crowned 2017/18 Gippsland Carnival Champion in February.
Monster Fish was runner-up in the Traralgon and Cranbourne Cups and the consistent chaser accrued points in the heats and finals during the carnival to claim the Gippsland title. She also had another runner in the heats, Ice Cool Kaedyn.
Kate feels that Monster Fish, her most successful dog to date, has the potential to win a group 1 race. As well as training him, she owns a one-third share along with her husband Matthew, which makes race days even more exciting, she says.
Kate, who lives in Tanjil South which is in the Gippsland heartland, has seven racing dogs of her own and a successful business rearing dogs for other participants; she currently has 20 rearers.
“I love the dogs, I’m passionate about all of it. I have a competitive nature as well, so I think I am well-suited to greyhound racing. I am definitely ambitious,” she adds with a laugh.
“I think greyhound racing is still a male-dominated sport. I have had to prove myself as a woman, but I think things are starting to change.”
She has many role models in the industry whom she admires. “Angela Langton is definitely one of them, and Ashley Terry. “
Kate believes there are things that women bring to the sport that men can’t.
“There are dogs that respond better to women. Monster Fish is definitely a girl’s dog, he is a big sook, he loves a cuddle.” However, she acknowledges that there are also dogs that work better with men.
Greyhounds are a full-time job for Kate, which she balances with raising two children, Madison, 5, and Riley, 8. She thinks Madison will probably follow in her footsteps as she is very interested in the dogs, she tags along with Kate and asks about their trial times, while Riley is more interested in the prize money.
In 10 years’ time, Madison might be part of the next generation of women coming through the ranks of greyhound racing.
The club CEO
The CEO of the Cranbourne Club, Amanda Cameron, is pleased to see women making their mark in all parts of the sport, from greyhound catchers to administrators.
She starts by singling out Marg Long, the manager at The Meadows, who is a GRV Hall of Fame inductee, and Healesville club manager Cynthia O’Brien, who is a great supporter of women in racing. She admires their long and distinguished participation in the sport and their leadership as administrators.
Amanda is a newcomer by comparison, with four years at Cranbourne, but she used to own and race a greyhound herself and remembers her father’s greyhounds when she was a little girl.
“Greyhound racing has really become modernised. There is now that acknowledgment that women can do it all.
“The majority of catchers at our club are girls – that’s where young girls start in racing. Now there are a lot more women trainers and breeders than there used to be and I think female vets are outnumbering the males in the sport, or they seem to be at our club anyway.”
Although there are still more men than women in the sport, Amanda says women get a fair go in greyhound racing.
Amanda see parallels in other sports that are attracting more female participants and followers: the AFL has its Women’s League and horseracing has very successful female trainers and, to a lesser extent, jockeys. There are also plenty of women turning up to watch greyhound racing, which is another positive for the sport.
Nicole Featherby is 21 years-old and just beginning to make her way in greyhound racing.
The Swan Hill resident, who will celebrate her 22nd birthday next week, was introduced to the sport by her partner, trainer Matt Lanigan who had Zipping Inglis in the final of the Australian Cup at The Meadows.
Zipping Inglis finished in fourth place, but the couple are looking forward to many more success stories in the future. Lanigan has already tasted group success after claiming the Hobart Thousand in 2016 with Zipping Bruiser after a few short months in training.
Nicole had never seen a greyhound race before she met Matt six years ago but she is now a part-owner of Zipping Inglis and is planning to get her handlers license this year.
Nicole works full-time as a dental assistant so she is definitely a racing hobbyist for now, although she is more than willing to do her bit around the property.
“Matt does a lot of travelling and I can’t always get to the track, so when he’s not here I get up at six to put the dogs on the walker, feed them.” She also helps to exercise the dogs on their straight track.
“Being at the Australian Cup was exciting, we were all up, cheering and yelling. We were happy to get fourth place.”
For now, she is going to keep working as a dental assistant until they are ready to go into racing full-time. “But I’m learning what I can. I love it.”