Like many greyhound trainers, David Geall is no stranger to long road trips.
The Lara-based trainer has made the 11-hour journey to Sydney many times, most recently with Up Hill Jill and now with exciting young sprinter, My Redeemer. He has clocked up thousands of kilometres.
In a recent interview on RSN’s Off The Leash program, Geall shared his travel tips.
My Redeemer’s superstar sibling Up Hill Jill, who is owned by Geall’s wife Rose, already has an impressive record on the road. On her 15th appearance at Wentworth Park on 31 March, she broke through for her first Group 1 win in the final of the $250,000-to-the-winner Ladbrokes Golden Easter Egg.
Geall’s advice for preparing dogs for a long trip is simple: rest breaks, hydration and routines are essential.
He says they are simple things, but he is “always looking at the one or two percenters, whatever we can get to help the dogs perform at their maximum.” The aim is to make the trip as stressfree and comfortable for the greyhounds as possible.
Geall says you need to know that your greyhounds are fair travellers before attempting an interstate trip “and we find that out early on just going around to the local tracks, whether that be Horsham or Shepparton.”
Preparation begins two days before the trip, when his dogs get a 600m free gallop. Geall weighs and checks them before he sets off. He makes three stops on the way to Sydney, so the stretch their legs for at least five minutes.
He always stops at the same towns, so his greyhounds are familiar with their surroundings to reduce stress. Geall doesn’t risk untried locations where they might encounter “loose domestic dogs, or even cattle, which can set them off sometimes.”
The first stop will be after an hour and a half, then the greyhound sleeps for the next three hours, until the next rest stop. Geall prefers to transport greyhounds in the back of his van, rather than use a trailer.
“My opinion is that they travel so well in a van. When you’re doing 110 kph and a great big road train is passing you the noise can be quite deafening. In the van they can hear you talking, or they hear music and it relaxes them. Some trainers will say that their dogs travel interstate well in trailers, but I can’t take that risk to put them in a trailer, I just need them to be spot on and not stressed,” he said.
His greyhounds get 200 grams of fresh meat two or three hours before they are kennelled at the track. He takes them for a walk upon arrival at the track, the same route each time so they know they are at that specific track.
“We like them to be very familiar with everything that’s going on,” Geall said.
After a race at Wentworth Park it’s back in the van to drive three hours south to a motel where Geall and his dogs can get a decent sleep. This is also when his dogs have their main meal.
The overnight break makes the eight-hour trip back to Lara much easier – for trainer and greyhound.
“Some trainers will say that their dogs travel interstate well in trailers, but I can’t take that risk.”
By: Suzanne McKenzie.
Photo by: Clint Anderson.