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Young gun Duncan just loves to play

It may surprise some punters that playing ball in a one acre paddock and having a teddy bear collection used as training tools could be part of a successful racing greyhound’s preparation.

However, trainer and animal lover Julie Grindley is certainly seeing rewards for a training style some may consider ‘unconventional’.

Julie’s latest short course sensation, Duncan, is proof in the pudding.

Since bursting on the racing scene last November, Duncan, a 26-month-old son of Mepunga Blazer x Miss Fab, has raced six times for four wins and a 2nd, all up the Healesville straight.

Duncan returns to Healesville this Sunday where he is drawn in Box 6 in Race 11 at 2.17pm.

Based in Victoria’s east at Gladysdale, just 30 minutes from Healesville, Julie shares her training base with partner and fellow greyhound trainer Ken Sweeney.

And what is conventional anyway?

For someone with a wealth of experience within the greyhound training ranks, Julie clearly knows what she is doing, training winners as far back as the 1980s.

Julie’s very first greyhound, Quiet Riot (Kid Scandal x Temander Lady) won many races and provided Julie with her first victory as a trainer as well as the driving passion which sees her enter her fifth decade with collar and lead in hand.

What may also surprise punters is the circumstances in which Julie acquired Duncan in her kennel.

Julie’s greyhound training peer and friend, Jessica Hopkins contacted Julie to see if she was interested in taking Duncan on.

Jessica was well aware that Duncan had ability, so too did Duncan’s owners, but circumstances led to Duncan being ‘given’ to Julie and he is now flourishing.

“We have found that our dogs really thrive in the one acre paddock that Ken keeps mowed beautifully for the greyhounds to run around in.”

When speaking with Julie about what she believes is the point of difference in preparing Duncan and the other greyhounds in her kennel, Julie conveyed “it’s a different sort of attention with such a small team of dogs that we have.”

“It is very much one on one (training) and the greyhounds love the attention.”

“We have found that our dogs really thrive in the one acre paddock that Ken keeps mowed beautifully for the greyhounds to run around in.”

“We are on five acres in total, but this fenced off area is where Duncan and our other greyhounds have a lot of fun.”

“I have bought a box of teddies at the local opportunity shop and I find that the dogs will pull the toys out of the box and they all have their favourites.”

“Actually, Duncan also favours a ladies beret that was in the box with the teddies.”

“He enjoys running around the paddock playing with what was once a ladies hat and he loves playing keepings-off with it,”  Julie mentioned with a laugh.

WATCH: Duncan (2) shows his talent by working his way out of trouble and scoring in a slick 16.72sec at Healesville, prompting race caller James Van de Maat to declare “he’s flying up the straight this greyhound.”

Julie said a more laid-back approach to training had benefited the team.

“We have stopped working the dogs behind the drag lure,” she said.

“Duncan doesn’t receive ‘hard work’ at home – a lot of what we do is free galloping and playing chasey and playing catch.”

“It is a very laid back training method that works for the dogs that we have.”

Julie’s 85-year-old mother, Margaret, also helps out with training the dogs and is loving every moment of it.

“We only train our own dogs… we don’t train for other people.”

“Once a greyhound is in our team they stay, and then they continue in our family as pets.”

“Duncan’s original owner is ‘extremely pleased’ that his former greyhound is doing very well and most importantly he is aware that Duncan is very happy and very much loved.”

“Duncan is now a part of our family and offers will come and go but he is not for sale, he is a member of our team.”

“Once a greyhound is in our team they stay, and then they continue in our family as pets.”

In the near future Duncan will be tried around the circle.

“Warragul will be his next stomping ground.”

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes there.”

*Check out Duncan’s opposition at Healesville tomorrow in Race 11 Box 6 at 2.17pm.

The content on this page was accurate at the time of publishing. If you notice any inaccurate content on this page or anywhere on the website, please report it here

About Victoria Shaw - Australia's only female race caller and the only woman in the world to have broadcast four codes of racing in this country and overseas. Victoria has co-hosted international racing awards and hosted racing forums focusing on women's inclusion within international racing communities including Poland, Morocco, Spain & the United Arab Emirates. She has called races on the Victorian thoroughbred picnic circuit and at numerous greyhound tracks around the state as well as the 2020 Waterloo Cup. Victoria is fascinated by the incredible efforts of racing animals as well as the people that love and prepare them, no matter where they are in the world.
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