From whippets to greyhounds; that was the path the late Bruce Baxter took to become a popular and widely respected member of the Victorian greyhound racing community.
Bruce recently passed away at age 71 after a long battle with illness, and wife Heather remarked this week that she has been overwhelmed by the sympathy and kindness shown by fellow trainers and friends in the greyhound racing community since her husband’s passing.
“We’re like a big family,” Heather said. “We tend to rally together when someone is in need.”
Bruce and Heather were successful whippet breeders, earning accolades at the Royal Melbourne Show; before their decision to start a dog transport company introduced them to greyhound racing, with both going on to take out trainers licenses.
“When Bruce and Heather started the transport business they got a lot of enquiries and interest about greyhounds and later on they dipped their toes into training as well,” said Horsham GRC Manager Justin Brilliant.
“Bruce looked after the transport business and Heather (a former veterinary nurse) did the training. Lots of people got to know them and they became staples of the local greyhound racing community.”
Bruce and Heather enjoyed an association with leading trainer Angela Langton and her mother Sue Smith and their Champagne Syndicate.
“About eight or nine years ago Bruce was diagnosed with cancer and they moved to Murtoa to be closer to the medical facilities,” Brilliant explained.
“They’re both salt of the earth people that always put their dogs first.”
Horsham GRC paid tribute to Bruce with a guard of honour prior to the Vale Bruce Baxter Free For All following his passing, with Group 1-winning trainers Kelly Bravo and Darren Cairns among the many to pass on condolences on the club’s Facebook page.
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