Veteran Glenroy greyhound trainer Don “Snowy” Hazzard passed away last Friday, aged 91.
Don combined his greyhound racing passion with a love for AFL team, the Footscray Bulldogs where he was a long-time runner and trainer and is a life member.
He was a spritely 46-year-old when first introduced to greyhound racing.
After winning the 2007 G2 AWM Distance Title (725m) at The Meadows with Sky Hazzard, Don said: “I used to take a quadrella each week, and followed Graham Burke’s selections in the Herald Sun. Thanks to Graham, I won $839 on a quadrella and decided to invest in a greyhound pup.”
The success of that greyhound, Haphazard, was the catalyst for Don’s training career spanning 33 years at the time.
As a teenager, Don was a budding pro cyclist and was a riding companion of the legendary champion of the track, Sid Patterson, at the North Essendon Board Track. Unfortunately, a bad fall cut short his cycling days.
But that ‘wheel of misfortune’ led him into a 25-year stint (1953-77) as a runner and trainer for Footscray. He also did the running for Charlie Sutton and Ted Whitten, and rubbed down champions such as Gary Dempsey, Barry Round and Bernie Quinlan.
Don guided Sky Hazzard to 26 wins (with 22 seconds and 14 thirds) from 79 starts and $192,687 in stakes.
Sky Hazzard (Oct ’04 Bombastic Shiraz x Blue Sky Hazard) was a 12-time group race finalist, including two G1s.
He also won successive G2 AWM Distance Titles, also scoring in 2008, and won his last three starts when almost four years old.
But nearly 13 years ago, it was ‘Hazzard by name, hazard by nature’ when Don caused a ‘No Race’ fiasco in the 2007 G1 Sandown Cup (715m).
He accidentally tripped the manual starting lever while placing Sky Hazzard in the boxes for the final. Subsequently, the club created a cover for the lever dubbed the “Hazzard guard”.
At the time, Don said: “I don’t think I’ll ever forget it… It’s the saddest, and most disappointing, thing that’s ever happened to me in the sport.”
He added: “I couldn’t talk to anyone for a week, because I’d burst into tears… I was so sorry for the Sandown GRC and GRV.”
WATCH: 2008 Sandown Cup promotion featuring race caller Rob Testa and Don Hazzard, 12 months after that famous incident.