Eaglehawk-based husband-and-wife team Peter and Roselyn Nicholls are not greyhound racing household names, but they love the sport – and their greyhounds with a passion!
One of their pin-ups is El Grand Knocka (aka “Ernie”), an ‘iron dog’ who has had 128 starts.
Roselyn says El Grand Knocka has a will to win, but he also has a will to live!
His racing career was nearly over before it even began. You see, “Ernie” was bitten by a brown snake – one of the deadliest in the world – as a 12-month-old pup and his life hung in the balance.
“It was touch and go, he’s lucky to be alive,” Roselyn said. “We rushed him to Tatura Veterinary Clinic where he received two vials of anti-venom.”
Roll on nearly four years and the rising five-year-old is a greyhound racing success story in his own right. He’s notched 25 wins and 50 minor placings, and has developed somewhat of a cult following in the Bendigo region.
WATCH: El Grand Knocka (1) salute at Murray Bridge, at his most recent start.
“He’s got a big heart,” Roselyn said. “He’s no star but as honest as they come.”
So, what’s the secret to his racing longevity and amazing constitution?
“Patience and TLC,” Roselyn added. “He’s also a very athletic type.”
El Grand Knocka has hardly had a break from racing since commencing his career in late February 2017. However, he did have an enforced seven-week layoff after sustaining spiked webbing in the catching pen following a race at Ballarat in early October.
“He’s a champion to us… All he wants to do is run,” Roselyn said. “He never gives up.”
And, if you listen to Roselyn, imminent retirement is not on the agenda for “Ernie”.
“We’ll retire him when he stops jumping up and down when we go to get him out of his kennel every morning,” Roselyn said.
And didn’t I mention that the Nicholls’ love their greyhounds? Well, the proof is in the pudding with El Grand Knocka’s dam, Pepe’s A Knocka (aka “Netty”).
“She’s our pet, and has the run of the house… She’s a real couch potato and we absolutely love her,” Roselyn concluded.
And I’m tipping mum will need to create a little room on the couch for her son once the curtain is drawn on his racing career.
Photo credits: Daniel Thorogood (Horsham)