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Did you hear about the greyhound that won his 101st race and went into a bar?

David Warburton, Tatura based hobby greyhound trainer, could not be happier with his homebred greyhound Tat Warby (Banjo Boy x Fire Stricker).

At the greyhound’s very first start, in February 2018, he was a winner, and more recently a winner at start number 100.  And, winning again, at start number 101, more than three years later on March 22.

But don’t expect the ‘evergreen’ Tat Warby – known about the house as ‘Warbo’ – to be venturing to tracks other than Shepparton any time soon.

According to David, “I love going to Shepparton because I’m not a traveller anymore. If I had a really fast dog I’d have to give it to someone else to train, because I just don’t travel these days.  I hope there are more veterans races for ‘Warbo’. Having won three of his last four races, he is now out graded.”

David, a former Unilever employee, has had greyhounds all his life, with his father and grandfather training greyhounds as well.

Tatura residents and fans of the Carlton Football Club could be well acquainted with the Warburton family’s extensive sporting history.

David’s father, Keith, known as ‘The Acrobat’, represented the ‘Blues’ on 74 occasions.  Keith Warburton also went on to become a very successful greyhound owner/trainer, while David’s brother, Peter also played with the Carlton seniors in the early 1970s.

Former Carton great and greyhound trainer Keith Warburton was known as ‘The Acrobat’.  

Keith had an impressive reputation as a footballer, and amongst the many plaudits he was renowned for his sense of fairness on the football field.  So I asked David, what he thought his late father imparted to him, with regard to his greyhound racing interests?

“That is an easy question to answer – kindness, be kind to them.  That was dad’s nature in life.  He just loved animals.  He never swore or said anything unpleasant, and my mother Rose, used to love taking milk down to the pups as well,” David said.

I was also compelled to ask what David does to vary Tat Warby’s training regime, given that after 101 starts ‘Warbo’ is going stronger than ever.

“I like to get in the paddock and play with my greyhounds as they chase the tennis ball around.”

“I’ve got a little squeaky toy that the dogs play with and Tat Warby has one particular rubber ball that he loves chasing. You could throw ten balls out in the paddock, but there is this one particular ball, that ‘Warbo’ will continue to go to.”

“He really is a big kid, and you’ll find that they are all individuals, just like the human race, they are all different.”

“Tat Warby has one particular rubber ball that he loves chasing. You could throw ten balls out in the paddock, but there is this one particular ball, that ‘Warbo’ will continue to go to.”

David currently has six greyhounds in work, and they are all out of the same brood matron – Fire Stricker.

Fire Stricker is now known as ‘Pip’ and, at 13 years of age, David proudly informed me “I should probably say that she is the boss of the kennels, and all of ‘Pip’s’ pups have won races.”

“When you have been breeding greyhounds all your life, watching them win a race is even more special.”

“If they hurt themselves, you get hurt with them and you’ll lay awake at night worrying about them as if they were your children.”

“We have had a lot of dogs, including Flying Spook, who won a Victorian Country Championship and was terrific for us, and they have all been very unique animals.”

When looking at Tat Warby’s extensive race record it was wonderful to remind David of ‘Warbo’s’ victory over dual G2 winner Yozo Bale, just over a year ago at Shepparton.

On that evening Tat Warby flew out of the boxes to glide across the face of the field and take control of the event.

“Yes, we have had a lot of fun with ‘Warbo’, but I have to keep going, because he just loves racing.  I wasn’t expecting him to win against Yozo Bale, but wow, I was very excited when he won!”

WATCH: Tat Warby (8) defeats hot favourite Yozo Bale (2) and brother Tat James (3) back in March 2020.

David went on to make a very important point: “What I would like to say to the broader community, because there are so many mistruths out there – get out and watch them!  Come out to greyhound trainers’ properties and see all of the negative community attitudes – that are so wrong!”

“People come to my property a lot, and they are amazed as to how clean the place is, and how sociable and affectionate the greyhounds are. You have to wonder what on earth some people think! The dogs are so friendly and gentle, and I encourage kids to play with them all the time. And, the children go away better for the experience, with so much more respect for the animal.”

“Most people that don’t have anything to do with greyhounds are surprised at how happy my dogs are, and that starts from the day they are born.”

“My grandchildren play with them all the time and dad had us as kids playing with the pups as well.”

“It is easy to find the personality within each dog, and at that point, when you discover that aspect of the greyhound’s very being, it is a beautiful feeling.”

“All of my greyhounds get an ice cream and a big cuddle after they win a race, and as for my greyhounds that lose…they get exactly the same.”

“All of my greyhounds get an ice cream and a big cuddle after they win a race, and as for my greyhounds that lose…they get exactly the same.”

Peter Warby has the Tatura Hotel and. according to David, “there is a bit of a fan club for Tat Warby that gathers there every time he races.”

“They love to cheer him on and my phone just goes off if he wins.”

“The locals want to band together and buy one of my pups now, which is great for the town, and they love to see ‘Warbo’s’ racing photos in the bar.”

I reminded David that there are many bars around the world, named in honour of great racehorses, so why not name the bar at the Tatura Hotel after Tat Warby, given the great joy he has brought to so many people in the area?

And, the Warburton family are doing just that.  As David told me, “There is a story behind every greyhound.”

I’m sure there will be plenty of stories to be heard, in the Tat Warby Bar, at The Tatura Hotel. Next time you are in the Tatura area, make sure you drop in.

WATCH: Tat Warby (2) winning at start number 101, his 13th win to go with 34 placings.

Above: Tat Warby was randomly drawn as the ‘Jackpot’ dog on the nights of his 100th and 101st starts, with trainer Dave Warburton collecting a nice sweetener on both occasions. Shepparton GRC runs the concept on race nights with trainers having the option of putting $5 into the pool.

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Victoria Shaw
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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