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We’ll be riding on the ‘greyhounds’, yeah

The ‘Correct Weight’ syndicate – comprising high profile jockeys Jye McNeil, John Allen and Harry Coffey, along with Warrnambool horse trainer Daniel Bowman and close friend Paul McDowall – have taken to greyhound racing with unbridled passion.

They’re enjoying the ride with the aptly named On The Bit, prepared by young Anakie trainer Matt Lanigan, 28, and it’s impossible to ‘rein in’ their enthusiasm.

On The Bit only started racing in mid-March, winning his first three races – including a flying 25.62sec win over 460 metres at Warragul. And he made it four from six when successful last week on Group 2 Warrnambool Cup night.

On The Bit is an August 2019 son of former champ Orson Allen and Paua To Excite, whose maternal grand-dam is Hall of Famer Paua To Burn.

“Matt and I come from Swan Hill,” Coffey said. “We played in the same footy league, and he was a very good cricketer. Basically, we got to know each other through our love of sport.

“He was training greyhounds while working at the local Telstra shop at the time and I’d often mention my family and friends were interested in owning a greyhound. And Daniel’s in-laws lived next door to Matt’s father, Gerald.”

Coffey added owning On The Bit was “not just enjoyment but experience”.

“We’re having fun, it’s a great experience… Both codes are similar, but it’s interesting to see the different methods of preparing the dogs for racing. And we’re receiving, not giving, the feedback.

“It’s a good group of blokes and we’re rapt to be supporting Matt.

“He did a very good job with the first dog he trained for us and when it retired, we said ‘get us another one’.

“The entire syndicate were able to make it to Warrnambool Cup night as we’d been riding at the annual Warrnambool ‘May Carnival’.

“Matt had some pressure on him, but he came through with the goods.”

When the opportunity came up to get involved with On The Bit, McNeil quipped: “We went down to the bank and got some money out.”

The Melbourne Cup winning jockey added: “It’s a different kind of excitement… We’re on the other side of the fence, relaxed and without the pressure. We can watch it all unfold from a different perspective.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen him race. People went out of their way to make the night special. We were able to go out onto the track after his race and have a pat and a photo. It was a memorable night.”

McNeil rode two winners – Ocular and Tooradin – on the last day of Warrnambool’s horse racing ‘May Carnival’.

But the obvious highlight of his career as a ‘hoop’ is winning last year’s Melbourne Cup on Irish raider, Twilight Payment.

Ironically, the ‘Correct Weight’ syndicate’s greyhound racing foray is akin to the ‘race that stops a nation’.

Metaphorically speaking, they’re just passing the post the first time around. And they realise there’s a ‘long straight’ ahead.

“At this stage, we’re just enjoying this bloke. But, long term, the intention is to stay in the industry,” McNeil said.

And to pinch a lyric or two from Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘The Horses’ – “That’s the way it’s gonna be…”

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Peter Quilty
About Peter Quilty - Has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.
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